One of Our Favorite Ab Exercises: Valslide Ab Tuck & Star

Oh Valslides, how much do we at DP love you?

We could count the dozens of ab, core and leg variations that you can do on the Valslides. They are super portable and just down right awesome because my friend Valerie Waters, trainer the stars, created them.

I have to rave about Val for a minute because she’s pretty much one of the nicest people ever. We were in a business group together for a few years and at that time I had ordered several sets of slides for the gym. There was one set in particular (I think I ordered 3 pairs at once) that wasn’t holding up as well.

I mentioned it to Val, just to let her know that the product was amazing but some of the foam was falling apart and we hadn’t had them that long. I just wanted to make her aware as a friend and certainly wasn’t asking for anything.


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Faking It…Trainers Do it Too

Faking it… Trainers do it too!
Ever hear the term “fake it until you make it”? You know pretend, false bravado, and imply that you can do something that you are really not ready for. Walk in with confidence, leave with victory. We have a saying amongst our training staff, it is actually one of our core values, it is “all day, everyday”. Meaning I could do this all day, everyday. No sweat I’ve got this.

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Why I Love the Scale

A post from Emily:
Why I love the scale….
You might be totally confused by this statement. Thinking “wait, what, trainers talk all the time about how the scale doesn’t matter”. Well for me it does. Here is why.


This week I have multiple clients say a similar statement to me. TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC. Time for them to be measured at our gym. “I’m dreading this, I’ve been avoiding this” I hear this a lot. But it is coming from a good place. People ready to move out of denial into action. It is their first step.




As painful as it is to face at times we all need a mirror to show us when we are off course. This wake-up call comes in many forms. A pair of jeans that won’t fit anymore, a comment from another person, a picture of yourself, and often the scale. I have seen people cry over their measurements, body fat, weight, inches, and I have seen what comes after the tears and the wake-up call. Let me tell you it is all worth it. Living in denial and not facing the “music” does not move you forward.

Having the courage to face where you are, and where you have been is the first step in preparing to move forward to where you want to be.

This is why I love the scale. Not everyone has access to our ability at the gym to measure what makes up people’s body weight, how much is fat and how much is muscle. So, the scale brings people in my door, sends them seeking out help, keeps them somewhat in check if no better body composition measurement is available. The scale will wake you up, and provide you with reality check at times. It is a health barometer, not the greatest one, but it can let you know if you are at risk for diseases, or sometimes a weight fluctuation can let you know if something is wrong in your body.



See the scale is not the enemy here. BUT…. yup here is the but…. your relationship with it can be.


I do want you to have a healthy relationship with your weight. Just like anything else there is too much of a good thing. It is good to know how much you weigh, it is good to know that at any weight, high or low, your weight does not determine your worth. If you are “overweight” it does not make you a bad person, just like people that are at a healthy weight do not all have halos.


Your weight is just  number, you are not defined by it, unless you define yourself by it.  Healthy relationship with your scale means using it on occasion. Don’t be a scale junkie and weigh yourself everyday. Once a week is plenty, once a month is even better. I prefer my clients to weigh themselves only at the gym. Judge your progress by clothing fit, and body feel is so much more effective. Because lets be honest we are after feeling good, truly wanting to feel good. This is not a number, it is a feeling.

What is going to be your wake up call? It is never too late to start, or get back on track. Remember we all have to start somewhere. It is okay to loose your way, and get of course. What you do once you realize your are off track is what counts the most. Time to be honest about where you are so you can get to where you really want to be. Be real with yourself, is it time for you to wake up and get back to work?



My mission is to help as many people as possible, and if the scale is one more way to do that, then I’m I okay with it.


Now that you had your wake-up call get to work!


You might be wondering what the best measurement of your healthy is based on external examination, and without all the blood work. As stated above body composition is what we trainers like to use.  I always describe body composition as getting a look into someone’s house. That whole skinny fat thing. See a house (body weight) can look great on the outside, but be a hot mess inside.

closer Why I Love the Scale

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Durbrow Performance September Client of the Month: Jared Graves

jared e1413403794696 Durbrow Performance September Client of the Month: Jared Graves

Congratulations to our September 2014 Client of the Month, Jared Graves.

Check out Jared’s journey and success story here and be sure to give him a high five and congratulate him the next time you see him!

A small town called Baldwinville in Central MA.

What brought you to DP? 
As I started becoming more interested in fitness I realized that just running on the treadmill wasn’t going to give me the results I wanted. Many of the people I work with had been going to DPT for a while and encouraged me to give it a try. I wasn’t sure about group training but once I became familiar with the trainers and clients I really started to enjoy it.

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Ask Your Trainer: What is the Best Way to Do Push Ups?

Welcome back to another edition of Ask Your Trainer. We’ve gotten a ton of great questions so keep them coming. You can just leave a comment on this blog post or follow our shenanigens on Facebook and post your questions there.

Today’s question comes from one of our clients, Nikla, who was asking about the proper push up technique. Her question was specifically “why do we concentrate on keeping our eyes up on push ups instead of going nose to the ground?”

This is a great question. At DPT we do focus on performing push ups while looking ahead. You don’t want to mistake that for looking “up” because the goal of the push up is to make it a full body exercise and that starts with having a straight back and neutral alignment.

Think about having a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.

This means when you do your push ups, you should look slightly ahead to maintain that neutral alignment. This does a couple of things.

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The Fear of Success

By: Callie Durbrow

Success, it’s a weird thing. We all want it, but we’re all kind of terrified of it at the same time. Usually that terrified aspect is hidden a little deeper in our subconscious mind.

I was recently reading a book about this very topic and it’s fascinating how much it stands true, particularly in the areas that I work with every day.

The first area is in the training business. Whether you want to call it weight loss, fat loss, performance training, it doesn’t really matter. So many of our training family have different goals but often the “hang up” is the same once they reach a certain point. (more on this later)

The second area is yours truly. Obviously I own my own business and if I’m being completely candid and honest, I experience the fear of success on a daily basis.

So, this post is not coming from a regurgitation of what I’ve been reading and what I’ve been working on with my mentors (more on this in another post as well). This is stuff that I experience daily and I also see with our training family clients as they approach success in their goals.

Why is success scary?

I think it comes down to three big reasons:

1. Fear of the unknown

2. More personal responsibility

3. There’s no one else to “blame”

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The Best Diet Out There

Here’s a post from Emily with everything you need to know about how to sift through the confusion of traditional diets…

What is the best “diet” out there?

This has been a debate for years. It provides confusion, revenue, and for extra fun the best “diet” out there is always changing.


South Beach


Whole 30

Weight Watchers

Nutra System

Slim Fast

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Ask Your Trainer: What Kind of Equipment Should I Get?

In this week’s edition of “Ask Your Trainer” you had equipment Q’s and we have your A’s. 

We recently held a new client meeting where a handful of our newest family members could come together and get a crash course on the basic success principles of Durbrow Performance and also have the chance to ask questions.

We got several questions about equipment and I thought it was fitting to address these on the blog as well, even for clients that have been with us for some time.

Question #1- Should I wear gloves and what kind?

Answer: We actually don’t recommend using gloves at all. This is because when lifting weights, you should be feeling all the major points of contact, whether that’s your feet on the floor, your upper back on the bench or the weight in your hand.

The other major reason we discourage gloves is because when training with kettlebells, you want to be rolling the bell through your hand during a snatch or clean, not gripping it too tight. The gloves get in the way of the flow movement and can actually bring on more callouses.

When lifting weights, we recommend chalk and no gloves, especially with kettlebells.

If you are extremely concerned with callouses, you can put gloves on for certain movements like a Trap Bar Dead Lift or a Dumbbell Press.

The next step in the equation is that yes, you will get callouses. It happens. The best thing to do is stay up on the healing and treatment process by using a pumice stone while in the shower when you hands are soft. You can also put coconut oil on the area to treat the rough skin.

Question #2- What kind of shoes should I wear?

Many of of new clients noticed that some people go barefoot. As far as footwear goes, we recommend a minimalist approach. This does not have to be bare feet, socks or Vibram Five Fingers, although those are all great choices. You can also get some New Balance Minimus or Nike Free training shoes.

The reason for this comes down to proprioception. That basically means how your body understands and feels the space around it. Just like with the gloves that I mentioned above, you want to feel the movement that you are doing. That means can you feel your feet pushing into the floor on a squat or a heavy press? Can you feel the ground on your landing from a jump or during a sprint?

These are critical factors in developing a strong and athletic body.

A lot of traditional running shoes will cause you to lose this feeling all together due to the extra support and lift of that shoe.

The next important point is that those same running shoes create an elevated heel, which not only makes it difficult to feel the movement correctly, it can force your body out of the strongest and most effective position, which is back on your heels (specifically for a squat or a lunge) and often put too much pressure on the knees.

Then, if you can’t properly push through your heels and you don’t feel the space around you, you wont engage your glutes and hamstrings enough.

So, in conclusion we recommend staying pretty minimal with equipment and learning to feel the exercises, the weights and the movement in order to get the best benefit.



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3 Simple Tips to Manage Your Diet and Nutrition

I was listening to a podcast where Jill Coleman of Jill Fit  was the guest. Jill was talking about her approach to coaching her clients on nutrition, specifically when people get a little impatient with their results.

We all want what we want and we want it yesterday.

Patience is a hard thing to master, especially when you hear about people losing 30 pounds in 30 days, doing these crazy diets and getting crazy results.

Why isn’t that happening for me? What am I doing wrong?

When it comes to nutrition, you can never look at what someone else is doing. What works for me, or Emily, or any of your fellow training clients, will probably not work for you. I would bet there’s one thing that needs to be different, at least.

Maybe you eat more carbs than the person training next to you. Maybe you need more protein to keep you full. Maybe you need 9 hours of sleep when they need 7.

There are so many variables. That’s why when people come to us and say “just tell me what to eat” that becomes a dangerous zone. We could “tell” you what to eat, but then what happens when you decide you want to eat something different that day?

Either you are paralyzed by too many choices or you are simply not educated enough on what your body needs to make a different decision other than what’s on your meal plan of the day.

Nutrition is a science but it’s not an exact science. That answer pisses people off too. There’s no worse answer that “it depends.”

But it DOES depend.

I want to give you three things that you can do right now to start the process of exploration with your own thoughts, feelings and reactions to your current nutrition plan. Do this before you even start changing your calories or macronutrients.

First, gauge your hunger.

When are you hungry?

Are you actually hungry or is it boredom or stress?

Second, gauge your cravings. 

When do you feel the cravings coming on?

Are they stress related?

Are you craving sugar when you’re tired?

Third, gauge your energy.

When do you feel energized?

When do you feel dips in your energy levels?

Do certain foods make you feel energized and do some make you feel sluggish?

These three questions are a great starting point because they will help you manage your emotions around food as well.

If you can answer that your hunger is in check, your cravings are under control and you have balanced energy, then you can start looking at what you might want to change in terms of calories and macros. Do these first and do them often. You’ll also find some answers about how you deal with your daily lifestyle and stress.

Hunger, Cravings, Energy.

Let me know what you find out after about a week. I’d love to hear your results!


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The Truth About Carbs for Fat Loss

Carbohydrates are the most misunderstood nutrients when it comes to fat loss.Far too many people, my past self included, have completely removed carbs from their diet in an effort to speed up fat loss.

However, for most people, the best fat loss results actually come from consuming carbs, not completely cutting them out. A big reason for this is the specific fat burning hormones that only respond when carbs are strategically part of your diet.

This is a critical point, because hormones flat out decide whether or not you are a fat burning machine or just on the road to ending up a skinnier version of yourself with very little change in body fat.

The fact is, anyone can lose weight by simply eating very low calories. But just because you are losing weight doesn’t mean you are losing much body fat.

Just “losing weight” hopefully is not your goal. You want fat loss!

And in order to target body fat, you absolutely must have your hormones under control.

Here are the 4 biggest hormonal players in the fat burning game and how the practice of avoiding carbs puts the brakes on your fat loss in a serious way.

1. Leptin: This hormone is known as the “fat burning hormone”. When leptin is elevated your body is sending the signal to start burning away at body fat stores.Leptin is released from fat cells. The more body fat you have the more leptin your body will release. As you begin to diet for fat loss, the reduction in calories and the loss of body fat naturally leads to less circulating leptin. When leptin levels are lowered, fat burning slows down.

Carbohydrate containing meals happen to be the best way to keep leptin elevated so that you keep burning fat. On the flip side, a low carb diet keeps leptin depressed shutting down your fat burning.

2. Cortisol: You’ve probably heard cortisol described as the stress hormone responsible for accumulation of belly fat. If you haven’t heard this, cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for the accumulation of belly fat.

Anytime your body is placed under stress, (physical, emotional, or mental) the response is to produce cortisol. When cortisol gets out of control, your abdominal fat begins to get packed on.

Carbohydrates are essential for keeping cortisol balanced. Carbs provide an easy energy source for the body, in the form of glucose. When glucose levels are optimized there is no stress response needed to produce energy.

However, when carb intake is kept very low, there are lower levels of readily available glucose to be utilized. In this case, cortisol is released in order to free stored energy and provide the glucose needed to keep you going. If cortisol continues to be released due to low energy levels, as is the case with chronically low carb diets, the end result is belly fat accumulation.

3. Thyroid Hormone: This hormone is produced by the thyroid gland and is largely responsible for your metabolic rate. In other words, healthy levels of thyroid hormone keep your metabolism buzzing, whereas depressed levels of thyroid hormone bring fat burning to a halt.

I’m sure you can guess what is coming next. Low carb diets lead to reduced levels of thyroid hormone putting the brakes on your fat burning efforts. By limiting carbs too heavily, you can actually end up shutting down your metabolism.

4. Insulin: When you eat carbohydrates they are broken down into glucose and your blood sugar becomes elevated. This in turn, signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin’s job is to deliver the sugar from the blood into muscle cells making insulin a very anabolic hormone. In a perfect, fat burning world, the story ends there.

However, we don’t always live in a perfect fat burning world. Eventually, your muscle cells get “topped up” and can no longer take in any more sugar. Once your muscle cells are no longer accepting sugar, insulin deposits the remaining energy into body fat. In this way, insulin can be responsible for making you fatter.

This was where the low carb diet was born with the idea that if you completely eliminate carbs from the picture, blood sugar will remain low, insulin will be under control and you will be able to avoid fat accumulation. Now, this works to a degree and short bursts with very little carbs can work wonders for fat loss, but this is not the most effective way to keep your fat loss humming through the entire duration of your diet.

Enter “Insulin Sensitivity”. This term, insulin sensitivity, refers to your muscle cells willingness to accept insulin (carrying blood sugar) so that it can be properly distributed. When you are highly insulin sensitive, sugars get deposited in the right place (muscle cells) and avoid being stored away as body fat.

BUT…because it is carbohydrates that create the most profound effects on insulin, by going too long with very low carbs in your diet and not experiencing bursts of insulin your muscle cells essentially will start rejecting insulin, leading to insulin resistance. When insulin resistance occurs you go into fat storing mode.

All four of the above hormones need to be balanced for optimal fat burning efforts. Get any one of them out of whack and you can say goodbye to fat burning. And when you cut carbs too low for too long, you run the risk of hormonal imbalance.

So stop fearing carbs, instead use them responsibly and strategically to Turbo-Charge your fat loss.

The best time to take on carbs is going to be before and after a strength training session. This will set your body up for maximum fat burning potential. We’ll be back in the next installment to share exactly how you set that up.

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