Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

Posts tagged “fitness

Baton Rouge Personal Trainer on a Mission!


I’m on a mission!

My name is Sarah Rippel and I am a Baton Rouge personal trainer.

(you already knew that though, right?) 🙂

Are you ready to get a jump start on your new year’s resolutions?

Click here to find out more!

(will send you to my website and most recent blog post!)


-Posture & Movement Screening-

Last Tuesday I had a few hours to kill, so I figured I would mock-screen myself. I have a fairly good grasp on what my specific “issues” are, but it never hurts to go through things and encourage some healthy deductive reasoning! I am also working on bullet-proofing my body for the 2013 Tri season, so I am taking on myself as a Rippel Effect client. 🙂

In addition to both static and dynamic postural/movement assessments, I look at gait, and am constantly watching people move in general. The assessment process is an ongoing one. It all comprises the overall picture, and some may feel static postural assessments are a waste of time if one also does movement screening, but I feel that’s baloney!

I like to get as much information as I possibly can on each of my clients. I mean, I am apt to ask you on which side you carry your child or purse, how you typically sit while driving, and how you tend to sleep! If you sit at a desk for eight hours a day, it most definitely will be reflected in your static posture, which if less-than-desireable, will negatively impact the way you move.

It all adds up!

So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share my findings with you, in case you’re curious!

Static Anterior:

Supination as compensation
Tibia external rotation
Femur internal rotation
(Under active Lateral Sling; possible tight ITs)
Hip shift L w/slight lift
L upper trap more pronounced

Static Left Lateral:

Ankle neutral
Anterior pelvic tilt
Seems shifted forward
Shoulder protraction

Static Left Lateral OH:

Increased lordosis
Rib cage flare
Less shoulder extension ROM L

Static Left Lateral SL:

Femur flexed to 90
Good alignment

NOTE: findings on R Lateral weren’t much different from L

Static Posterior:

Femur internal rotation & tibia external rotation apparent
R foot slight turnout
L hip higher & rotated clockwise

Static Posterior HOH:

R scapula winging

Static Posterior OH:

L shoulder flexion & adduction more ROM
R erector spinae tone

Static Posterior SL R:

Not aligned
Lateral bend to L
Tight L QL/weak R hip

FMS: 15
(Scored as 0-3 for each of the 7 screens; no major asymmetries, thank goodness!)
Deep Squat – 2 (got to 90, torso parallel to tibia, dowel passed toes)
Hurdle Step – 2 (more stable on R/moving L)
Inline Lunge – 2
Shoulder Mobility – 2 (more ROM L; scored prior)
ASLR – 2 (more ROM R)
Trunk Stability Push-up – 3
Rotary Stability – 2

Decreased activity of Anterior Oblique Sling (L external oblique/R internal oblique/R Add), Posterior Oblique Sling (L lat/TL fascia/R glute max), and Lateral Sling (L QL/R GMed/R Add)
Increased activity of Deep Longitudinal Sling (especially L)

Specific Correction Protocols:
Scapular Positioning
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Lateral Pelvic Tilt
Limited Shoulder Flexion
R SL Stance
R Scapular Winging:
Limited Shoulder Flexion & Adduction

Strengthen AOS (especially L external oblique/R internal oblique/R Add)
Strengthen POS (especially L lat/TL fascia/R glute max)
Strengthen LS (especially L QL/R GMed/R Add)
Inhibit DLS (especially L)

R GMax
R GMed
R Add
L Lat
L Ext Oblique
R Int Oblique

L Sacrotuberous Ligament
L Biceps Femoris
L Peroneus Longus
L Tib Anterior
R Erector Spinae

The follow-up to this post will focus on my protocols to address my specific issues!

Until then, it pays to know what’s goin’ on with your bod!

-Sarah’s Soapbox: Fitness Assessments-


Currently, there seems to be this battle going on in the fitness industry (big surprise there, lol). Some people seem to be overly-emphasizing corrective exercise and assessment, while others at the opposite end of the spectrum are saying it’s hogwash.

In true fitness industry fashion, too many people blindly adhere to a guru’s school of thought, while a few “renegades” diss it (some without having done much research, others probably just to draw attention). Furthermore, social media has enabled everyone to become an expert.

Those of us who do not profess to be renegades for the attention, nor sheep who cannot think for themselves seem to fall into the middle of the fitness professional spectrum. Here we somewhat-quietly conduct our own research via working with our clients and applying the methods of those we respect.

The result is a synergy of approaches, in essence, our own unique training methodologies…each a unique shade of grey.

I feel that the thought processes of those at either end of the fitness professional spectrum are flat-out ignorant. Nothing in life is black nor white, and to utilize such an approach is limiting to one’s personal and professional growth, as well as the lives they touch.

The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) has become one of the major whipping boys of this debate. Some want research proving that it is effective. There is no research proving that it is not effective, nor any stating that it is not safe. To be honest, I do not feel that there could be a realistic study focused on the FMS in the first place. This is one of those instances where I feel that “in the trenches research” may be more convincing.

The FMS is a tool. It doesn’t cure cancer, create the best athletes, or allow anyone to become a personal training genius.

The FMS does, however, allow the fitness professional to provide a simple, standardized method of screening movement. This is more than 80% of personal trainers/group fitness systems do out there in the real world!

It has most definitely impacted my programming in a positive manner. Do I need scientific proof to back this up, or is the fact that I am able to more effectively prescribe exercises for my clients sufficient?

Here’s my $0.02 on fitness assessments:

They are an essential part of establishing a baseline for a client’s fitness program.

If you’re skipping this important part of the process, you’re crazy.

You wouldn’t seek the help of an MD when you have the chills and are throwing up all over the place, and then take their advice if they didn’t perform some sort of test, would you?

Obviously we are always assessing clients when they are training with us. That should be a given.

The initial assessment DOES NOT diagnose anything (we are not MDs), nor does it allow us to accurately pinpoint specific issues, but it DOES allow us to devise a strategy to safely troubleshoot a client’s postural/movement/strength/whatever discrepancies.

The initial assessment gives us the ability to narrow down the possible reasons for any issues and subsequently formulate a plan of action to minimize them.

It gives the client an ongoing measure of their progress and gives the fitness professional a list of checkpoints for each client.

The information gathered in the initial assessment serves as a reference for those who wish to progress their clients safely and effectively towards their goals.

My career as a fitness professional began in 1995. I started my clients’ programs with an initial assessment back then, and I do not see any reason why this should change. My protocol has morphed over the years (I no longer have clients perform the 1-min crunches and sit & reach, for obvious reasons), but the idea of starting a client’s program without an assessment? Ludicrous!

-Healthy Gut Flora, Traditional Diets, and Exercise-

Today was the second day of “Wise Traditions 2012,” the 13th annual conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
So, I’m here in Santa Clara, CA with one of my rockstar clients, Eddie, who is the reason I am here! He basically forced me to attend this conference with him. Just kidding, he didn’t force me. I owe him a great deal of thanks for the opportunity.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect yesterday as we were on our way to Cali. I assumed there would be a plethora of “granola” people in attendance. You know, the “real” Whole Foods shoppers, not the “I shop at Whole Paycheck because it’s trendy and I wanna be seen” types). I was right. I had also joked about people not wearing deodorant and in true ironic fashion, I realized while unpacking my suitcase I had forgotten to pack mine. Hippie jokes aside, it hit me pretty fast that I had landed smack-dab in the middle of some damn genuine people.

Heck, people look at me and assume all sorts of things. We are human. It’s what we do.

There are most definitely no fake, plastered-with-makeup people here! It’s quite refreshing. I have also smiled a lot at strangers. I normally do this anyway, but the environment lends itself to the exchange of a smile with most everyone you meet here. No one is in a hurry (except for when it’s time to get into the line for lunch or dinner, lol). Everyone for the most part seems cheerful and relaxed (except for the grouchy older man who was behind us in the “breaking fast” line yesterday morning). I’m sure he was in better spirits once he got some grass-fed beef broth into his tummy.

So far, I have attended the following lectures:
“Seminar on Traditional Diets, Pt. 1” (partial) – Sally Fallon Morrell, MA
“Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Pts. 1 & 3” – Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
“The Depression and Anxiety Epidemic: How, Why, and What Works Better Than Anti-Depressant Drugs” – Julia Ross, MA
“The Role of Sugar Intolerance & Addiction in Chronic Illness, Pts. 1 & 2” – Theresa Vernon, LAC



Some of the awesome foods I’ve gotten to experience:
Grass-fed beef broth (people sure line up for this schtuff!)
Gluten-free bread
Grass-fed raw milk (I’ve never been a milk drinker, since one of my friends told me it was “cow pee” in the first grade, but this schtuff is great!)
St. Benoit Creamery French-style yogurt (amazing, and I kept the little crock in which it was packaged)
Cashew sprouted nut butter (yum)
Grass-fed ghee
Sauerkraut (they love this schtuff around here)
Kombucha (grape flavor was delish, and there are others to try)
Meatloaf with organ meat (sounds gross, but was yummy)
Mashed potatoes with butter & cream (duh, heavenly)
Pumpkin panda cotta made with coconut oil (quite good!)
Braunschweiger (dad and I used to eat braunschweiger on saltines and when I was older I learned that it was liver and was grossed out…funny how we go through a “lame” stage as teenagers/20-somethings and think we know everything)
Fermented beets (Eddie scolded me for not getting any, so I tried some of his and realized I was dumb to have passed them up)
Cornichons (delightfully-yummy pickled baby gherkins)
Traditional WAPF Conference Cheesecake on almond-date crust (YUM)




We are having curry chicken tonight, and I’m excited about that!

So, aside from the food, my mind is so full of schtuff that I don’t know where to begin! I will probably be breaking this post up into a few parts.

Now, before anyone is quick to assume that I am a fool who is quick to have my head filled with quackery or voodoo, let me just say a few things:

1. I have ALWAYS questioned mainstream thought. I think I was probably rolling around in my crib and very happy with the fact that I was breast-fed and wore cloth diapers. 🙂 I will probably be talking about breast-feeding somewhere in this series, but let’s just say that I owe my dear mother a debt of gratitude for being as smart as she was in breast feeding me.

2. My inability to simply go along with the crowd made it difficult for me to feel entirely comfortable speaking my mind until I came to grips with my issues. I went through years of being very self-conscious, withdrawn, and skeptical of most everything. Once I was able to come to grips with my demons and was sick of living in fear, I made the decision to just be REAL. It’s been liberating and those who “get” me appreciate the fact that I am genuine, but my haters hate it when I speak my mind. Always gonna be those damn haters, lol 😉

3. I have always had a big beef with the persistent myths and misinformation that plagues the fitness/diet industry. I have been involved in the fitness industry since the age of 17, and began working with clients as a personal trainer at 19. From the get-go, I have been a bit obsessed with learning as much as possible about anything pertaining to exercise/nutrition/health. I still cannot get enough. I find myself poring over books, articles, and blog posts seeking out information on a certain topic one day…and then it’s something else the next. I get overloaded and it’s my own fault, but I don’t know how else to be! 🙂

4. I have always felt that it is irresponsible to recommend anything to a client without having a sense of how it affects myself. I am my best guinea pig. As a former anorexic/exercise bulimic/perfectionist who still has her OCD moments and tends to be her own worst enemy, I’ve pretty much experienced it all. Starvation dieting? Yup. Diet pills, laxatives, and all sorts of other scary crap? Yep. Bodybuilding and a bodybuilding diet, including drinking a ton of Met-Rx and eating scads of tuna, veggies, brown rice, and protein bars? Yep yep. Twice-a-day cardio for “getting ripped”? Yeppers. “Eat clean during the week and cheat on Friday?” Yes. Atkins? Uh-huh. (And I felt good on it, go figure) The list goes on and on and always will.

5. I grew up healthy. I was born in 1976. Again, I was breast-fed. Mom was very nutrition-conscious. My brother always seemed to eat whatever mom fixed, and I was the rebellious one who refused to eat steamed artichoke. I remember sitting at the table, having made my stand. Mom made me stay there until I ate it. I didn’t. I’m sure I got a spanking. Yes, we got spankings. Not sure how that ties in, but I feel it does. We didn’t go out to eat except on special occasions. We didn’t get sugary cereals (but every so often we would, and I would inhale the box in two days flat). We played outside a helluva lot. Now, we had our share of dysfunction and I have always struggled with anxiety, but I rarely got sick and didn’t suffer from allergies. I truly believe that my healthy childhood nutrition from day one was responsible for that.

6. I run run run away if anyone comes at me with an MLM pitch. I had a brief career selling Advocare years ago, and I believe the products are top-notch, so please do not take this as a slam. Hell, when I was broke living in Austin, I responded to an ad and found myself in a room with creeps hawking aloe vera juice. I got out of there as soon as I could get away from the shady guy who cornered me and asked if I was “ready to be successful.” Point is, I do not buy into a scheme that borders on suckering people in by preying on their need to create a living. These types of businesses almost always lead to nothing but headaches for the “little guy” and more money for the man at the top. No thank you.

7. I have always felt that Americans, as a society, are impatient, selfish, and lazy.I feel we are slowly killing ourselves and have much to learn from the people of “less amazing” countries (aka all the others) that are healthier and seem to be enjoying life way more than we are. Obviously I am being sarcastic about non-Americans being beneath us, because I feel it is often the other way around. I truly believe that our society is toxic. We have disease rates rising every year, despite the fact that our healthcare is top-notch. The obesity rate doesn’t do anything but inflate, even though we have every stinkin’ resource available to counteract the disease. Yes, obesity is a disease. Big pharma and the GMOs make scads of moolah, so they can afford the advertising that is forced upon us at every opportunity. The messages are so wrong, and we are so busy and stressed to think otherwise. WAKE UP, AMERICA! WHAT WE ARE DOING IS NOT WORKING! Here, have some more processed carbs, stay awake because you’re so stressed that insomnia is your best friend, and continue to experience numerous health issues for which you’re told to pop another pill. IT IS RIDICULOUS!

8. It frustrates me that I have friends and family members who have all sorts of health conditions and never seem to get any better. I want so badly to be able to just take the reins and do it for them. If I could do that, I wouldn’t be living in Baton Rouge, lol…I’d be living it up in a mega-mansion on some sunny beach! Anyhow, it’s not because people do not want to get better, although I do feel that we can become attached to our issues/diseases and they serve a “purpose” as an escape route, means of foregoing responsibility, and/or coping mechanism. Seriously, does anyone actually WANT to smoke? Of course not, but it becomes a very serious habit and the idea of quitting can seem to be too much for many who are addicted. The same rings true for other health issues. Many people become so controlled by their numerous issues that they seem to merge with them. Ever been around one of those people who seems to always talk about their aches and pains, allergies, or whatever? It’s annoying. It’s as if all they can think about are their negative conditions. I can say this because I’ve been there and lived that way for a long time. I was depressed and in a very dark place from the age of 17-25, and even though I rarely talked about how miserable I was, it was clear to those around me. Bottom line: People do not like to be around unhappy and/or unhealthy people! Bottom line número dos: The body and the mind are interconnected. If the mind is sick, the body is sick, and vice versa. Until a person is mentally able to take control of their health, they will do nothing but get worse.

I am going to stop here for now. So, yes…there will be a Part 2 tomorrow! I haven’t even started talking about the schtuff that’s hit more with me (and with my gut)!

Have a great weekend’

-The Importance of Single-Leg Stability for Runners & Triathletes-

Runners and triathletes, what does single-leg stability mean to you?

Not sure? It should mean a lot!

You’re being a smart endurance athlete by doing that “boring” strength and mobility work in the gym that’s gonna give you an edge on the competition. Major kudos to you for that, but if your exercises are along the lines of leg extensions, leg curls, and leg press, you need to step up your game.

First off, ditch the damn machines. If you know anything about my training philosophy, that should be a given.

Secondly, emphasize single-leg training.


Running isn’t performed on two legs! It is a single-leg activity!

It makes sense to train the body in a manner that transfers over to running, right?

I highly recommend the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) for every person I train. In a nutshell, the FMS is simply a tool that allows me to gain insight into a person’s ability to move. It is comprised of seven screens that cover the basic human movement patterns: deep squat, hurdle step, shoulder mobility, in-line lunge, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability. Each screen is scored from 0-3. A score of zero is the result of pain being present during the screen and/or an inability to perform the screen. If pain is present, the screen is cancelled and the person is referred out to a doctor. On the flip side, a score of three indicates that the screen was performed in a manner that met the necessary requirements. A score of two is considered acceptable. A total score of 14 on the FMS is said to reflect a decreased risk of injury during exercise.

I video my clients’ screens in addition to viewing them at the same time. After the initial screen has been performed, I sit down and review the footage. This allows me to make notes regarding discrepancies in each movement in addition to scoring the screens. A client’s FMS score isn’t a diagnosis of anything, nor does it allow me to say “your left Psoas is tight and your right glute max is weak.” I am not a doctor and I’m not a physical therapist. I am, however, an aficionado of exercise prescription!

If a client scores a one on their trunk stability push-up, a one on their left hurdle step and a two on their right hurdle step, and a one on their right shoulder mobility and a two on the left, I make a priority of improving their ability on these screens. A screen that scores the left and right sides and results in a discrepancy between the two must be addressed. If there is a lack of mobility in a desired pattern, we work to increase it, and the same can be said for stability. You cannot build strength on top of dysfunction! 80% of people who exercise are most likely doing just that!

Promoting balance is the goal.

The initial FMS day is always eye-opening for people. Most people seek my expertise because they want to lose weight or train for a race. Most people do not give much thought to their movement abilities, but they definitely do after going through the FMS for the first time! Furthermore, it is always interesting to screen endurance athletes because more often than not, it allows them to grasp the importance of this strength and mobility schtuff. Yes, the “boring” schtuff…I mean, if its not swim/bike/run, why do it? Lol

I didn’t mean to get into an explanation of the FMS, but in true Sarah fashion it just came out. So, now that you know a little about movement screening, let’s get back to the importance of single-leg stability and that wonderful thang we call running!

If you’re a geek like me, then you cannot help but analyze the gaits of runners as you’re knocking out the miles. Yes, it’s a bit distracting, but I cannot imagine not being so aware of it! More often than not, I am witness to a plethora of funky gaits. I find myself cringing when someone doing the “Vibram shuffle” approaches me. You know, feet turned out and barely leaving the ground. So epic! There’s always gotta be a few of those who assume that the minimalist approach will magically make them a better runner. Instead, I have the feeling that most end up in pain. PROPER GAIT MECHANICS ARE MUY IMPORTANTE, PEOPLE! Yes, that important!

Sorry, I got on a roll there…

Single-leg stability. You need it. If you don’t have it, you must acquire it, or your running career will suffer.

Sounds serious…it is!

When we run, one foot is in contact with the ground while the other is not. Duh, right?! 😉 The ability to keep the pelvis in a relatively-level position during each phase of gait is what we want. If the hip musculature lacks the ability to stabilize the pelvis, the unsupported-side hip will drop below the level of the stance-side hip. A side-to-side “swaying” may result, and all of this means a huge waste of energy because of inefficient running mechanics. In addition, a lack of hip stability is a red flag for injury. If you want to enjoy a successful, long relationship with running/triathlon, it is issues like these that you MUST address.

Here is a simple, yet highly-involved exercise which challenges single-leg stability. I am using a Cook Band, but any resistance band will work. If your single-leg balance leaves much to be desired, you’ll want to use a band that offers more resistance. As you become more proficient, lighten the load.

The goal is to activate the core musculature and then perform the single-leg stance. Starting out, your body may not be able to get things firing properly, so that’s where the core activation via the band comes into play. Gradually work your way to using a light band as your ability to engage the muscles of your core/glutes improves.

Stand facing the band, which is anchored at a high point. Your feet should be in a neutral position. Assume proper postural positioning, perform shoulder extension and exhale (pull the band down so that your arms are towards the floor), then raise one leg, aiming for 90 degrees at the hip, knee, and ankle. Hold for a count of two, locking in your glutes and staying as still as possible. Sloppy reps are a waste of time! lower your leg and then release the band. Each rep is essentially a re-set. We don’t want protracted shoulders! if the exercise is too hard, use a band that offers more resistance. If your exercise execution looks like mine in the video, them you’re doing it right. 😉

Try two sets of ten 2-sec-holds per leg.

How can you go about finding out if your single-leg stability can be improved? Simple. Call me and schedule an FMS appointment. Your hurdle step performance (in addition to your proficiency in the other screens) will reveal all.

Yours in Health,
(225) 326-2317

-Sarah’s Training Philosophy: Keep An Open Mind-

If you want to get the most out of training with me, keep an open mind & let go of everything you’ve ever been told about exercise. You have enlisted my help because you believe that I know my stuff.

I do.

You have sought my help because you haven’t been satisfied with whatever you have done before. Please let me do my job & trust in my abilities. I don’t blow smoke up people’s butts, so please believe that what I tell you is useful! I want you to absorb what you learn from me and utilize it!

I have been in this business for a loooooong time, and would not still be here if I did not know what I was doing. Longevity in the fitness industry speaks volumes.

No, we won’t be doing workouts where you wanna puke.

We won’t be doing endless reps of single-joint “feel the burn” exercises.

I don’t give a rat’s behind about P90X or CrossFit or whatever other fad your friends have fallen into. Programs such as those may work for people because they get excited about exercise, and that’s great. If they are able to stay with a “cookie-cutter” program and continue to see progress without getting injured, even better. Keep in mind that an active lifestyle is not a fad, it is something you commit to for the rest of your life. Cookie-cutter programs do not fall in-line with my training philosophy, nor do they reflect the fact that I believe personal trainers should do no harm to their clients. If you are seeking a “one size fits all” program, go ahead and train in that manner. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I don’t care that you did endless lunges in body pump and loved being sore or your previous trainer told you not to eat fruit.

Have those methods done anything for you in the past? No?

Well, go figure.

You wouldn’t be working with me if you had been able to accomplish your desired results on your own, or through another training method.

Now, shush it and let me do my thang. 😉

We are gonna do things my way or else it ain’t gonna work…obviously that means compromise and we must work together, but do not fight me!

The exercises I prescribe are there for a reason. I realize that the simple stuff ain’t sexy, but it’s important.

You ask “why aren’t we doing such-and-such exercise?”

You say that your previous trainer had you doing all sorts of exercises that were awesome, but I know that they way too advanced for you. You can’t even do a simple squat without your knees caving in and your torso falling forward, but lo and behold, you were banging out rep after rep of loaded overhead squats.

Your previous trainer did not know what they were doing.

They probably had you doing all sorts of exercises simply because they felt they looked “cool” and/or were trying to impress you.

Can you perform a body weight squat that deserves to be progressed? If so, great! If not, we will work on getting the pattern established before I allow you to move on to more advanced variations.

We are gonna do the simple stuff until you OWN it, and them we will amp it up.

I refuse to do a mediocre job and I don’t want clients who expect amazing results while giving me mediocre effort and/or refuse to let me take the reins!


-Progressing the “Dead Bug”-

The oh-so-dreaded Dead Bug…how my clients love/hate it so!

It is one of my favorite basic movements for teaching proper stabilization strategies, as well as the correction of faulty breathing patterns.

The “Wall Push” is an excellent variation that is excellent for beginners. Dr. Craig Liebenson has popularized the dead bug, combining the research and training of Pavel Kolar and Dr. Stuart McGill.  Craig’s article in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies on this exercise may be found at this link.