Suns News

Mountainside Fitness Health Page

Official Fitness Center of the Phoenix Suns
Let me first welcome you to’s Mountainside Fitness Tip page. Mountainside Fitness is the largest locally owned health club in the state of Arizona with five current locations across the valley and two more locations soon to come. The purpose of this page is to provide to you the latest fitness information, debunk fitness myths and generally have a little fun. The articles posted on this site will be written by some of Arizona’s leading fitness experts.

Despite what some think, simply purchasing a gym membership will not help you achieve your fitness goals. You will, in fact, have to come into the gym in order to see the results you desire. Hopefully, the articles to follow will motivate you, as well as act as a guide to help you make the most efficient use of the time that you spend in the gym. Please feel free to e-mail me with suggestions on fitness topics you would like to see covered on this page at

Billy Malkovich
Moutainside Fitness
Official Fitness Center of the Phoenix Suns

Back Pain a Pain
Patrick Moore
Fitness Director of Core Concepts
Posted: July 25, 2006

I am surprised at the lack of focus on lower back muscles in gyms today even by most fitness professionals, considering it is the most common area of pain and injury on the body. With the right approach five minutes of attention can greatly reduce injury and minimize or even eliminate your back issues all together.

Reason for pain

Pain in the lower back area can occur when lifting too heavy of weights and put into a stressful position and/or over stretching the low back past it’s threshold, and may cause a disc to rupture or bulge outward putting pressure on one of the 50 nerves in that region.

Strengthening the lower back

Your lower back consists primarily of the erector spinae muscles which are attached from your neck to your lower back. These muscles are used constantly throughout the day in our everyday life so it is very important to strengthen them along with the other muscle groups so we can have better balance and stabilization. Just one simple exercise per workout is sufficient to help reduce your chances of injury however, if you would like to improve your chances even more incorporate five minutes of lower back stretching prior to any form of exercise with core exercises incorporated into your regular workout routine.

Proper Form in Training
R.J. Hulsey
Posted: May 10, 2006

Ask any Sun’s player and he’ll tell you that form is not necessary when shooting a free throw… WHAT?!! Is that true? No, but it got your attention, right? Let’s think through this logically. As Steve Nash steps up to the free throw line he adjusts his hips in line with his feet, and his hand and elbow in line with his shoulder. Why? To maximize his body’s potential to exert energy through his muscular system as it optimally aligned. Therefore, during this particular activity it is extremely important to maintain proper form. As we progress in line with this rationale, it would then make sense to apply this scheme towards all types of activities, including resistance training. Most gym members would agree, but have no idea how to apply this to their training.

I have lower back pain… my knees hurt… my shoulder hurts… do any of these describe you? The probability that you are not using optimal positioning during your training is evident. Perhaps it is time to reassess your workout program. What are some ways that you can improve your form? First, you could go to a certified personal trainer at your local Mountainside Fitness Center where he or she can thoroughly assess and advise a strategy utilizing corrective stretching and resistance training. The second is to be aware of the position of your feet, knees, hips, shoulders and spine. Your feet should be straight ahead (facing twelve o’clock if you are standing on the face of a clock). Next, your knees should be directly in line with your second and third toes. Subsequently, your hips should be in a neutral position (rock and roll your hips forward and backward, then find center), and draw your naval toward your spine. Then, square your shoulders so that your shoulder blades are pulled down and slightly back. Lastly, align your cervical spine by faintly pulling your chin inward (think double chin). If you are still in doubt, just ask yourself, how effective is your “free throw” or resistance training program?

What is Core Training?
Strong to the Core: The Benefits of Core Training

Steve Grisham,
Fitness Director/Certified Personal Trainer, Core Concepts PT
Posted: March 21, 2005


The core, or more commonly referred to as the midsection, are the muscles making up the abdominal area and lower back. In medical terms this area is composed of the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, intercostals, and also the muscles surrounding the spine called the illiopsoas. Core training means exercising the little muscles in your torso while working other major muscle groups. By working these muscles along with larger muscle groups, one is guaranteed not only a body that looks better but performs better as well.


Core training cannot be narrowed down to a specific exercise, it is a style of training incorporating the muscles in the midsection while working other major muscle groups. Utilizing a yoga ball, medicine ball, or bosu ball and eliminating a firm foundation while performing commonly used exercises, forces one to recruit muscles associated with balance and stabilization.


Incorporating core training into a regular workout routine provides the fastest results in the shortest period of time. Strengthening the “core,” or working the large muscles in the abdomen, back and hips aids in comfort and flexibility in daily activities, and improves sports performance. Some benefits of core training include: reducing or eliminating neck and back pain, promoting proper body alignment, protecting the body from injury, and most importantly creating that flat washboard stomach we all desire.

Can I Spot Reduce?
Richard Morris,
Certified personal trainer
Posted: March 1, 2006

When you lose weight, excess fat comes off all over your body; some parts reduce easier that others. Most women complain that the hardest place to lose fat is in the butt and thighs. Men complain that it's hardest to lose abdominal fat. Anyway you cut it, there are no easy answers to spot reduction. Diet and weight training with the proper assistance can, however, help tone and strengthen muscles and potentially be the solution to those pesky storage areas. Don't buy into the so called "8 Minute Abs." Consulting a certified professional is you best investment.

No Pain, No Gain!
Chance Pearson,
Fitness Director, Core Concepts Personal Training
Posted: Feb. 1, 2006

One of the best things about weight training is its potential effect on our resting metabolic rate. If we can affectively break down and damage muscle tissue while doing resistance training, we can put our metabolic rate into overdrive. This is due to the body’s ability to rebuild and repair itself. The rebuilding requires calories.

After a 30 minute resistance training bout, the body may burn an extra 350 calories in the 24 hours post workout. The amount of calories we burn post-workout is contingent on our ability to confuse the muscles. Since the body is so readily adaptable, it is important that we continually change our exercises. Once our body had adapted to certain stressors, the amount of calories we burn post-workout will drop unless a change occurs. If your body is no longer getting sore after a workout this means that we are no longer damaging and breaking down our muscle tissue. This will occur due to the fact that our body will become comfortable with exercises that we do day in and day out, no longer breaking down the tissue while performing the tasks.

If we are sore post-workout, we know that we have been working out effectively. We have been successful in damaging the tissue, insuring that we are adding lean muscle to the body and maximizing the number of calories we are burning post-workout.

Weight Belt Warning
Billy Malkovich, Mountainside Fitness
Posted: Dec. 15, 2005

Considering that I spend a large amount of time in the gym, few things surprise me anymore. However, I am surprised by the amount of people who still wear a weight belt while working out. Even more perplexing is seeing weight belts being worn while performing exercises such as a curl, chest press or any machine exercise. If people were more knowledgeable about the function of weight belts and the implications of their use, there would be far fewer of them in the gym.

Function of a Weight Belt

The primary function of a weight belt is to add support to your lower lumbar, or back, and was initially made for power lifting athletes to wear when performing a maximal lift. The abdominal wall pushes against the belt, which causes an increase in intra-abdominal pressure.

So What’s The Problem?

Size limitations of this article do not allow me to describe all of the negative aspects associated with the use of weight belts, so I will simply list a few of the main ones:

1. Weight belts change the way the body’s core thinks: When the body must handle a heavy load or help to stabilize, the core is supposed to draw in to guard the spine. Wearing a weight belt trains the body’s core to push out and creates intra-abdominal pressure, which guards the spine. Therefore, when working around the house or playing a sport and the body suddenly experiences instability or a heavy load, the core will do the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do, which will lead to an injury.
2. Weight belts create muscle imbalances. Due to the fact that a weight belt allows you to lift a heavier load than your body can naturally handle you create a muscle imbalance between your core and the primary muscles that you are training.
3. Some research indicates that wearing a weight belt will make your abdominal muscles weaker.
4. Wearing a weight belt may also lead to a degeneration of your spinal discs. This is ironic because you are wearing the belt under the impression that it is protecting your back.

My Suggestions

1. Throw away your weight belt!
2. Strengthen your core (abs, low back, obliques) so that your body can naturally handle the heavier loads.
3. Learn proper exercise technique so that you don’t get low back pain in the first place.
4. Work on your flexibility. Often times in exercises such as the squat a lack of flexibility leads to bad form, which people often try to compensate for by wearing a belt.
5. Check your ego at the door. Why would you lift a weight that your body’s stabilizers cannot naturally handle?

1. Santana J. Weight Belts, A Functional Training Perspective. Personal Fitness Professional March 2000. Pg 30-34.
2. Colgan M. The new Power Program. Vancouver. Apple Publishing, 2000.
3. Check P. Check Points In Core Conditioning. Paul Check Seminar, 2001