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Talk of the Town

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

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– Palo Alto Daily News 2010 People’s Choice Awards

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– CitySports Magazine

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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.

  • Check out our calendar of events and join us today.
  • 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

A Heart Thumping Core Cross Training Outdoor Workout

IMG_1937The weather out west is getting pretty awesome. We’ve been having 70+ degree days lately, and while we’ll have about 6oz of water for the entire state later in the year, I’ll admit I like it.

This means playing outside is on the agenda as much as possible. Sorry east coasters, that how we roll out here on the left coast.

With that said, it also means I get to rope Alison from Goldilocks Training into doing things she “loves” to try. The latest adventure involved a soccer ball, California sunshine and some high heart rates. On top of being a kick ass trainer, Alison is a good sport who always goes along with my suggestions!

She was great enough to turn her experience into a really cool cross training post. It will help you add both fun and variety to your next outdoor workout. With that being said, I’ll hand the mic over to AC and let her help you enjoy exercise that much more.


It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the mastodon-sized boxes of chocolates at Walgreen’s that won’t let you turn a corner without thrusting their melty goodness in your face (I have my weaknesses . . . ) I’m talking about re-evaluating your big fitness plans for the year. For me, I hate the concept of New Year’s resolutions, as they just seem so finite and harsh. My inner commitment-phone has issues with that. I do, however, love the idea of making choices each day that will help you improve your health and fitness. Not because of the date, but because you and your loved ones deserve the best! If you read my blog . . . even occasionally . . . (thank you!) you know that I’m a realist. I am also not the biggest fan of running. Or forced cardio in a gym setting. While I typically get my heart rate up by HIIT workouts, I admit to suffering from ADD in my routines and need to jazz it up. Does this resonate with any of you? I sure as heck hope so because I am already enough of a weirdo as is – I’d rather not go it alone ;)

On to the fun stuff!
I have never been too sporty in the traditional sense, so bear with me.
While I am a die-hard swimmer, when it comes to something like kicking, throwing, or catching a ball – I am not the first pick for anyone’s team. Luckily I am an adult who can acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses . . . and has come to grips with the fact that she will never be the female David Beckham. Life goes on, right? Of course! But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn something new or try to improve upon my (mildly pathetic) skill set. Whether you kicked butt on a field or preferred the sidelines, I hope this post inspires you to spice up your workouts with a little bit of old school athleticism. Honestly, I had a blast with this workout and I was even tricked into running!!

(AC, you’ve just volunteered to do this again!)

Crazy, right? Sports can be sneaky.

What do you need?
A soccer ball, some space to run around, a few cones (trees, lamp posts, anything of that nature will suffice), and a willing friend.

Technically, the friend is optional, but 1.) strength in numbers and 2.) it’s hard to throw or kick a ball to an unruly oak tree. In my
experience . . .

Ok, you’ve got the ball and a companion or two, now what?

Try to space out your cones approximately 5-10 feet apart, depending on your space and your ability level. There should be about 6 cones in
total for the set up.

Start by passing the ball back and forth by kicking it between yourself
and your compadre(s) for some warm-up action. If you are all spectacular at this, 5 minutes may max you out in boredom. If you are more like me, laughter will ensue almost instantly and 10 minutes is a sufficient amount of time to learn to connect the inside of our foot to the ball, as opposed to any rogue body part that feels the urge. Feeling bold? Try kicking it with the other foot! Life-changing, I tell you.

On to the drills!
1.) Line up and start dribbling that ball (or kicking it back and forth
between your feet) as you make your way around the cones you’ve set up. Try to make a back-and-forth weaving pattern so you cover both sides equally. So far I have a 42% success rate on that, so don’t beat
yourself up too harshly. Run through your cone set-up 3 times. Look at you – you’re running! Shhh . . . I won’t tell.

2.) Now it’s time to get fancy. Every time you reach a cone, try to
dribble around it in a full circle before heading to the next one. I
won’t comment on how that went for me . . . luckily I was with a very
supportive group of trainers (Thanks Al & Dom!). You’re working on
different planes of motion to challenge your core while simultaneously improving your agility, so embrace the challenge! Whenever I felt my instability get the best of me I would allow my body to fall into a lateral lunge position, with my gluteus absorbing the force, or a forward lunge, where both glutes and quads dominated. Avoid knee tweaking! Try to run through the set-up 3 times.

IMG_19333.) Time for abs!! Yes! Finally, something I’m good at (let me have my moment – I typically look a fool at these workouts)! Take a V-sit
position, balancing on your tailbone (you should be on squishy grass – or bunch up a coat/sweatshirt) and have your friend stand a few feet away. As they toss you the ball, lean back into an extended
double-crunch position and catch it overhead. Immediately throw it back, while crunching your body together into the V-sit. Your abs will be firing, your lats will turn on, and you won’t be doing a single sit-up.
Or plank! Now, swap with your friend so they can feel the burn :)Set a timer for :45 and go to town for 3 rounds, alternating with your partner as the thrower so you can each get your 3 sets of abdominal glory!

4.) Back to the cone drills! If your knees are feeling good, it’s time
to get a little crazy and make your way around the cones while dribbling . . . wait for it . . . backwards! Keep one foot on the ball as you hop backwards, figure-eight style through your cone forest. This may take some getting used to, so take it slow. Laughter will most likely ensue. Embrace it :) You’ll want to swap feet approximately ever 4 hops. I tried to focus mostly on not falling on my a** so the numbers may have been skewed. Core challenge!

5.) If you happen to have another buddy or two, set yourself up in
between a set of cones and have them face you on opposite sides. Have each buddy take turns kicking the ball gently in your direction as you run to them and kick it back. You will need to sprint in between partners to get the ball, so keep the timer at :30. Heart-Rate Mayhem!!

6.) Finish off with some passing between you and your friends, perhaps working on some wild moves you picked up from watching the World Cup . .. or playing video games . . . or just keep it basic (my style). If you want to set up your cones as small goals for a short, friendly game – now is the time to apply your drills and have fun with it :).

Even the most uncoordinated, non-athletic individual can find a great sweat from an afternoon of sports drills, with the best part being that you are “tricked” into a workout. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need expensive equipment or a fancy gym to burn some calories and build some strength. All that’s required is an open-mind and a willingness to laugh at oneself.
For those of you who take to sports like fish to water, consider joining a local intramural league to get in some more structured play with like-minded individuals. Even if your area doesn’t offer them, there are usually very low permit fees to rent fields from a town or city, so consider posting some cheap flyers around grocery stores and getting a group together on weekends, as weather permits.

Ultimate Frisbee is another great heart-pumper and has been growing like crazy in the popularity realm over the past decade, so that can be another inexpensive option. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep the environment friendly and positive. There is much to be learned from those with experience and many smiles to share with those who lack . . .and best of all, everybody gets a work out :).

Huge thanks to AC for more awesome power prose. If you’d like to get more information about this post from Alison, please visit her online: Website


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SBT Extreme Triathlete Model, Moni Edition Suspension Trainer: A Great Combination of Form and Function


The SBT Extreme Triathlete Model, Moni Editi

On the Plus Side: Amazing construction, a suspension trainer that works just as well at the gym as it does at home. Amazing customer service.

The Flip Side:  The foot cradle will take some getting used to if you’re coming from another suspension trainer.

The Bottom Line: This is a great piece of exercise equipment that will work well for a broad range of people from those who are paying to be more fit, to those who are being paid to be fit and everyone in between.

The Nuts and Bolts

I’ve been in this industry since 2001 and I’ve experienced a lot of companies try to make a splash with the next best thing. Some have made it (LifeLine USA, TRX, Val Slides, etc), others have long since pushed their last rep.

With everything I’ve seen in the last 14 years, one thing has become abundantly clear: at this point it takes a hell of  a lot to impress me. Especially with all of the new exercise fads that combine every conceivable piece of equipment and cardio machine that’s ever been invented into one ridiculous class to try to separate themselves from the herd (crushing my cranium along the way).

When it comes to the equipment I use myself and with my clients, its no different. You better go big or go home as far as I’m concerned.

When suspension training hit as a mainstream  training methodology (even though gymnasts had been using suspended rings for decades), we got the TRX and it was the big dog on the porch for a long time. Then LifeLine USA made their push with their Jungle Gym XT (which I loved) as well as a whole host of other companies trying to gain a spot in a very crowded suspended space.

Last fall we got the Monkii Bars bringing an approach that we haven’t seen before. Good piece of equipment, and an incredibly unique idea. Especially if you’re a trail runner.


The adjustment buckle system

Short of that, not all that much has changed in this area. Enter the SBT Extreme line of suspension trainers  ($165.99 on the SBT website) that combines the best features of the TRX with those of the Jungle Gym XT into one very premium blend of quality and function. Not too mention the Extreme Triathlete Model, Moni Edition (pictured) is just a darn cool color.

As a testament to what SBT has produced, fitness industry pioneer Juan Carlos Santana uses them exclusively as his suspension training solution at the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton Florida which he founded. Santana has been a major influence on my approach to endurance athlete off season training  which is primarily based on his programming methodologies.

If JC says they are good, I’m in. This is the suspension trainer the fitness industry has needed, and it is something I feel should be added  to your equipment arsenal. Especially if you train at home.


Home fitness users can easily hang the SBT Extreme from a door.

The SBT Extreme isn’t as light weight as the TRX or Jungle Gym XT. However, truth be told, I like that. There was something reassuring about the extra heft when using it that added to its premium feel as soon as I took it out of the box.

Given all of that, this thing feels like it could train the Hulk. Need proof? The Flat Nylon Webbing used in its construction has a breaking strength of 4,250 pounds as well as a 450 pound rated carabiner that connects the independent strap arms to the Multi-Fit attachment straps. Put that all together, and its time for “HULK ROW!”


Your SBT can be run from a single origin or dual attachment points.

So how did it perform?

I put this thing through some pretty rough workouts throwing every exercise I could think of to test out as many movements as possible. I did rows, pushups, Palloff Press, lunges, squats, high rotations, planks, knee tucks, hamstring curls, bicep curls, tricep extensions, pec flies and fallouts just to name a few and it performed very well with all of them. I wanted to get a sense of what it was like to train using the handles as well as the foot cradles and SBT did not disappoint.

I was especially impressed with the ankle mobility component with doing hamstring curls. Unlike the two above mentioned suspension systems, SBT took a unique approach that allows your foot to move through a more natural range of movement that mirrors your gate cycle.

Given that they’ve got a triathlon team, I’m not surprised this is a feature set of the SBT Extreme. Since I work with a ton of endurance athletes week in and week out, it is something I can appreciate.

Being able to do hamstring curls with my foot flexed away from my shin felt a lot more natural. In fact, some discomfort I had been experiencing behind my knee doing this exercise wasn’t present with this new range of motion.

How easy is it to set up and adjust?


a better look at SBT’s strap construction.

In one word, very. It is a pretty simple system to set up and even easier to find the right length of the straps.

You toss the Multi-Fit attachment straps (blue strap the unit is attaches to) over your anchor point of choice, wrap it around a few times then connect the SBT Extreme with the provided caribiners and start your workout.

You can go with a single origin point like a TRX, or you can have separate attachment points like the JGXT. I prefer the latter because I feel it gives you more freedom/options for your workouts.

While there isn’t a demonstration included in the packaged DVD detailing setting up and adjusting the unit, going to the SBT Extreme YouTube Channel easily remedied this. Hit this link, forward to the 8:12 mark and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You’ll also find a great demonstration in the link provided to  quickly and easily adjust the length of your straps as well. While there is a fold out included in the box telling you how to adjust the SBT Extreme, the YouTube video is a nice compliment.

Can you get in and out of the foot cradles easily?


The base of the foot cradle has neoprene padding for comfort.

They are every bit as easy to enter/exit as the TRX and JGXT. The bottom of the foot cradle has neoprene padding, and while its a nice edition, it took a little doing to find the most comfortable position to use my SBT Extreme. I wasn’t getting my foot in far enough, took me a few tries to figure that out so be sure to keep that in mind once you use it for hamstring curls.

Once I did, my foot was securely and comfortably locked into place allowing the unit to perform flawlessly. In fact one my clients also mentioned how secure her feet felt in the SBT Extreme doing hamstring curls.

Also worth mentioning the cradle is color coded so you know where your foot is supposed to go. Its a nice touch and eliminates any guesswork as to how to use that feature of the SBT Extreme.

What’s in the box?

WP_20141203_12_24_49_ProSBT put a ton of thought into their product and it shows once you open the box the unit comes in. Your SBT Extreme comes with an instructional DVD with three workouts (beginner, intermediate and advanced), one multi-fit attachment strap that can easily be used on a door, two independent arms to train with, one caribiner and a nylon carry bag that cinches up that can be worn like a back pack making it as portable as it is effective to train with.

You also have the option to go to the SBT site and purchase an additional Multi-Fit attachment strap so you can run each training strap independently. You’ll want to do this for what it does for pushups alone.

I found the included DVD to be an incredibly refreshing approach to home fitness. The biggest reason being the exercises are explained in such a way that you almost feel like you’re in a 1:1 session with SBT Co-Founder and Director of Education, Felix Duval, NFPT-MT, CSCS, FNFPT. He does a great job bridging why you’re doing the exercises the way you are to how that helps you improve your real world movements.

I really appreciate the fact they didn’t use a “SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!! YOU’RE GOING TO GET RIPPED USING THE SBT EXTREME!!!!” approach this industry is notorious for. There’s a good mix of science and practicality making the exercises easy to follow for those brand new to fitness as well as grizzled vets looking for a more challenging approach to training.

Should You Choose the SBT Extreme?


The base of the foot cradle doubles as a wrist wrap on the SBT Extreme.

This is an incredibly well thought out and executed piece of exercise equipment, they did their homework and it shows. After using it myself and getting client feedback, it looks like green is definitely the new black and yellow.

Case in point, the neoprene padded area at the bottom of the foot cradle can be wrapped around the wrist so it can be used as a brace to help support your grip strength. I haven’t seen this on any other suspension trainers (at least not prior to seeing this one), and I think its a great feature people will like.

I also like the handles quite a bit. I’ve used the new TRX models with the rubber handles. While a welcomed change from the foam handles they used to use, once my hands became sweaty, it felt like I needed chalk or gloves to keep my grip.

Not so much with the SBT Extreme. I found them to have much better grip even after my hands glistened. My wife commented on how easily the handles rotated which she liked while doing bicep curls and tricep extensions.

Overall, I was impressed with the SBT Extreme Triathlete Model, Moni Edition. The TRX and JGXT are still very good pieces of equipment, however, I feel SBT has brought something fresh to suspension training and I feel their approach is something you’ll appreciate if you pick one up.








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Learn by Doing Workshop Thursday March 12, 2015: Exercise Bands for Endurance Athletes


Split stance alternate arm work is perfect for endurance sports.

In an average year, 65% of all runners are injured. One running injury occurs for about every 100 hours of running causing runners to miss about 5-10 percent of their workouts due to injury (1).

There’s a way to prevent this, and endurance athlete strength training expert Al Painter, NASM-CPT, PES, CES is going to show you how. He’s been called “the repairman for runners” by for a reason: his endurance athlete specific strength training method works to drastically improve performance and dramatically reduce your chance of getting injured.

Whether you’re a competitive triathlete or casual endurance sports enthusiast you will benefit from this workshop at the Sunnyvale Sports Basement on Thursday March 12, 2015 at 6:30pm. Attend and learn an award winning approach to strength training to help you:

1) Recover faster after a hard weekend of training

2) Learn the most effective ways to improve core and lower body strength with exercise bands

3) Program your own workouts

4) Understand why more flexibility doesn’t really help prevent injuries

5) Master two proven training programs using exercise bands

Where: Sunnyvale Sports Basement Community Room

Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm

When: Thursday March 12, 2015

Cost: FREE!

Space is limited and this will fill up fast, so please RSVP to by Monday March 9, 2015 to reserve your spot. See you on March 12!

1) “Incidence and Severity of Injury Following Aerobic Training Programs Emphasising Running, Racewalking, or Step Aerobics,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 25(5), p. S81, 1993

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