We have had recent opportunity to fall in love with a new tool at NWFP, the percussive massager, which is a first line of defense to prevent muscle soreness/tightness and promote blood and fluid circulation. For athletes it accelerates recovery post-workouts and speeds up the rehab process after an injury. For personal or self use, it is a physical therapy tool, which can improve the overall health of the body’s soft tissues by decreasing inflammation caused by adhesions between the fascia and the muscles.
Co-owner Matt Holland just finished rehabbing himself back from a broken ankle and ruptured tendons in record-breaking time and this was an integral part of his recovery strategy. Matt’s doctor was blown away with the speed of his recovery, telling him that in the 10 years she’s been practicing as a podiatrist this is the fastest recovery she’s ever seen, going on to explain that he was 6 month along the recovery process after only 2 months.
When he started his recovery regimen, Matt religiously spent 1.5 hours a night rolling out with trigger point therapy balls his entire chain on his right side of his body to rehab his ankle and get his mobility back after the accident. While effective, Matt was convinced that there had to be a better way, and took a chance on buying a precision massage tool. He found he could get the same effect even better with the percussion massage in under 20 minutes and could use it directly on the injury site gently to increase blood flow, flush out toxins and break up scar tissue. It was a total game changer and he was now a convert.
As a mountain and extreme sports athlete Matt was stoked to use this both before and after his outdoor activities. He returned to mountain biking and wakeboarding only after 2 months from the injury, which is unheard of, and he was back to doing the things he loved.
As an outdoor athlete you are faced with the most challenging situations on your body. Our outdoor sports are essentially high force, repetitive motions for an extended period of time followed by long periods of inactivity (the car ride home)which is exactly what you want to avoid. Matt noticed that when he gets home after a hard ride, shred session or hike he feels old and stiff the rest of the day, but with this tool, because it is so portable and efficient, you can use it for just 5 minutes after activity and body will thank you for it and can be ready for whatever is on the agenda next.
We all know we should be rolling out the body before starting exercise, but rarely take the extra 20 minutes to do that. With the portable massager, you can hit all those essential areas like your IT band, rotator cuff, pec minor and piriformis about 5 minutes. You feel immediately less restricted on your chest press and can drop right into your squat depth on the first rep.
If you havn’t been exercising, and just need relief from the repetitive motion from your day at the office hunched over your computer, this tool is the cure for what ails you by keeping your shoulders, forearms, hips and neck from tightening up and causing lasting discomfort.
Recent studies have indicated that percussion therapy helps treat muscle fibers up to 30-times more effectively than regular massage and Co-owner Kyle who is a verteran Massage therapist for 15 years is a believer due to the great ease of use and immediate availability of relief. Percussion therapy helps to give balance to a target muscle group as well as tone the muscles in that area, all the while relieving tightness and reducing physical stress on the bones and joints.
Needless to day, We endorse this whole-heartedly. Get yours now for $150, they are selling the same one at big box stores for $350.
There’s a quote on the wall of our gym: if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. For me, it’s a kind of mantra. Every day I deliberately carry that intention in all facets of my life: the gym, my personal life, my family, and — most recently — my quest to summit Mount Rainier (14,410’).
Climbing our state’s tallest mountain is a huge challenge for all mountaineers, but there’s an extra variable for me: I have Crohn's's Disease, an inflammatory bowel condition which causes inflammation of my digestive tract. It can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn's's Disease is exceptionally hard for most people to manage in any situation, and it’s especially complicated in a mountain environment. (Just imagine: crippling cramps + diarrhea + a plastic bag + no privacy + dangerous environments + very high winds = no bueno.)
My first attempt to climb our state’s tallest mountain was in 2016. I spent months stepping up my training in the gym, working on my mountain skills, fine-tuning my gear, and mentally preparing. The trip started out okay — but when we got to the upper mountain, we stumbled into a perfect storm. Blizzard-like weather conditions came in, and my gut issues went bezerk. I’ll spare you the gory details of how an irritable bowel acts at altitude under extreme stress, but it was physically and mentally the toughest hurdle I’ve ever had to overcome. When we stumbled back to the parking lot, I felt lucky to be alive. I vowed I’d never set foot on Mount Rainier again.
That vow lasted less than 24 hours, of course. As I sipped electrolytes the next day, I started debriefing the climb. I took extensive notes, searching for the lessons hidden in my experience. How could I learn from our close call? What would I need to manage my disease effectively, and would it be possible to safely return to the upper flanks of Mount Rainier? My first attempt on the peak had terrified and humbled me, but I made a deliberate decision to see it as a challenge, not a failure. I threw myself into my mission to turn my dream into a reality, and methodically developed a multi-step plan, which included:
After all of these climbs — and thousands of hours of training — I finally felt ready for Rainier. Each mountain was another step in fine-tuning my body, my mind, and my technical skills. I talked to my climbing partners, and we set the date for our climb: June 2019.
While most people climb via the Disappointment Cleaver on the south side of Mount Rainier, we chose to climb via the Emmons Glacier, a route on the northern side of the mountain. Less than 20% of climbers chose the Emmons, because it’s longer, more technical, and less frequently traveled. Every team has to navigate their own route, make their own decisions, and manage hazards like crevasses, icefall, and exposed, icy slopes. But there are huge benefits: while the Disappointment Cleaver sees thousands of climbers every summer, the Emmons has only a fraction of those people, which gives you a completely different experience on the mountain and a little more flexibility if something goes wrong with my Crohns on the mountain. I methodically prepared my gear, packed by backpack, and got in the zone.
We left Seattle before sunrise, and drove for several hours to pick up our permits. From there, we had to hike to our Camp Sherman, our high camp. It was sweltering, and as I hauled my 68-pound pack up the mountain I was slipping and sliding in the slushy snow all the way up the steep approach. This turned out to be a brutal 8-hour slog. I think that day was actually more taxing than summit day.
At Camp Sherman, I did a self-assessment. I’d been trying to get a read on my GI system. I had started having a flare up the previous night, I get them about once a month and can last from 24 hours up to one week. After careful thought, I decided to engage my backup nutrition plan: to avoid digestive disaster on the upper mountain, I’d need to minimize what I consumed while climbing. It’s not ideal to restrict calories in extreme circumstances, but because of my training, preparation, and experience, I knew it was the best decision for me.
It took our team 8 hours to get to the summit. Despite my low caloric intake, I felt amazing. I was moving confidently in my crampons, hopping over crevasses, and finally climbing the mountain of my dreams. This time, there was never a doubt I was going to make it. We passed multiple groups on the way up and got to really take in the whole experience. I was engulfed in the breathtaking scenery, and I practiced pressure breathing to mitigate the effects of altitude.
The summit was spectacular, and the views exceeded my expectations. It was windier than all heck up there though, so we tucked in under the protection of the crater for 30 minutes while we took it all in and prepared for our decent. Climbers are often focused exclusively on getting up, and it’s easy to forget that getting down is harder and more technical. This mountain was no exception: it took us almost as long to descend to Camp Sherman as it had taken us to get to the summit. My GI isn't tolerating real food at this point so I restricted my nutrition even more so I could avoid having to deal with my gut any more during the descent. The winds were gusting to 40mph, and we had to focus carefully to manage our rope as we descended switchbacks down the steep, icy slopes. By the time we got back close to Camp Sherman, the sun was baking and the snow was a sloppy mess. I was running on fumes and wanted nothing more than to be back at Camp.
After (finally!) refueling with some calories and a couple trips to the facility at camp, I felt like a million bucks. We quickly packed up and started the descent back to the car. We made this transition at camp in a little over an hour as we were all eager to get home to our own beds. I was relieved when I realized the dreaded slog through the snow back to dirt was 70% a glissade (sliding on your butt). Definitely my favorite glissade to date, as the view was amazing. After the glissading it was an uneventful trek back through the dirt to the car. We reached the car at 7pm — we were exhausted from our 18-hour day, but we grinned and high-fived to a successful trip.
The next day my family and I went out on our boat for Father’s Day. As we floated on Lake Washington, I kept looking back up at Rainier. The knowledge that I’d just up there was surreal! I’ve been staring at that mountain ever since my first attempt wanting nothing more than to accomplish what I set out to do — and I finally did it! This was the most satisfying physical goal I’ve ever accomplished.
Not only did fine-tuning everything help me on the mountains, but it also helped me enjoy all the things I love doing outside (mountain biking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and hiking with my family) with my friends and family so much more. Now that I know more about my body, I’m able to utilize a lot of the same nutritional strategies with my other outdoor activities. It’s allowed my system to run better than ever, and minimizes the symptoms of my disease. I’m still processing my time on Mount Rainier, but I’m certain of one thing: this mountain challenged me, and that challenge made me better.
I still see Mount Rainier on the horizon every day when I drive to work at the gym, and I often reflect on how I felt when I was diagnosed with Crohn's's Disease almost twenty years ago. At the time, I was obsessed with bodybuilding, and most of my exercise was focused on vanity and self-image. But throughout my health journey, I’ve realized that the physical and mental strength I earned in the gym helped me get through 12 surgeries. It helped me recover from iron deficiency, and it gave me the chance to reassess my priorities and goals. It’s given me a new perspective and ability to help my training clients and community members. And most of all, it taught me to believe whole-heartedly in the quote we have on the wall of our gym: if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
The importance of training the foot and why we will be paying more attention to this at NWFP
If you've been working out at NWFP lately, you might have seen many of our trainers warming up or working out in their socks. This isn't just a trend to sell stylish socks, but an approach to training smarter from the ground up. Co-owner Matt recently went to a seminar in DC and in 2 of the 3 workshops, the presenters started their workshops with 30 minutes discussing the importance of feet. While Matt and Kyle go to seminars annually and are familiar with the material, now the industry is all-in on barefoot warmups.
Starting off workouts by creating more responsive tension in your feet, will result in greater firing of targeted motor patterns all the way up the chain through the entire body. This technique also improves the mechanics of our movements and helps to prevent injuries. As we have been learning the best techniques for this , we will be carrying this over into both group and personal training (so make sure you wear matching socks without holes).
From a personal perspective, at the end of last summer Matt broke his big toe and flared his plantar fasciitis by slamming into a rock on his mountain bike. Being a lover of extreme sports, Matt started researching what was needed to regain mobility and strength of the foot and toe after immobilizing both for about 8 weeks in a boot so he could get back on his bike ASAP. After a month of strengthening injured side, he noticed his uninjured left foot was now having a hard time keeping up which prompted him to start bilateral training. Both sides are now the best they’ve ever been.
His deadlift weight went up and his single leg stability work is at a completely different level, doing yoga poses are rock solid, and the plantar fasciitis he’s been battling over the last 6 months was gone.
Not just for injury recovery, Kyle also jumped in on this since you can still do barefoot training with a broken hand (different injury) and is noticing less fatigue in his running as a result. It's a lasting trend for a reason. Check out this interview with Martin Rooney on the subject from 2015 in Men's Health. And try this warm up series from our very own Dylan Brown.
So what does this means for you? Expect simple movement patterns in warm-ups, like lunges, squats and planks to be done shoes off. And if it's time to upgrade your socks, check out Bombas who have some awesome pairs.