The school year is approaching and soon you and your children will be back on a strictly regimented schedule that involves work, school, sport practice, meetings and all the extra travel-time in between. The last thing you want is to find yourself keeping up with the rat race at the expense of your health and wellness. As for your children, this could mean jeopardizing their performance in sport, and the classroom if proper guidelines aren’t taken into consideration. Here are some healthy and helpful tips to get the whole family on the same page as we enter a new school year.



Planning is the single most important pillar to making sure your day goes as smooth as possible. On the weekend try planning out the most important events for the week. Your plans are your children’s plans, so accommodating both will be important for your daily routine. Other than that, just take it one day at a time and plan food, activities and travels each night.


Start the day off right

Sometimes the quality of your day is dictated by how well you start. Give yourself time in the morning to have breakfast with your children. This not only allows you to take advantage of quality time with your kids, but will hold you both accountable to what you’re putting in your body. Parents preach a lot, but kids need to see their lectures put into practice. So eat a healthy breakfast and you’ll be sure to see you and your kids’ performance improve at work and school.


Fuel to Perform

Pack lunch or snacks for you both and phase the sugar out. Replace any sugary drinks with water and opt for a couple fruit items to satisfy your sweet tooth. This will give you longer lasting energy and essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function. Include protein rich choices like peanut/almond butter with apples or celery, or a protein bar with natural ingredients. Studies show consuming protein not only gives you sustained energy but also boosts your metabolism by the increasing thermic effect it has on your body.

Lastly, it’s helpful to pack nutrient dense foods, so making a sandwich or wrap packed with greens and some form of meat and cheese will certainly satisfy those requirements.


Be Active

Set aside time to workout and, in turn, encourage your children to explore their interest after school. This could be in the form of sport or other activities that require kids to productively interact with each other or work together. Let’s face it, anything to get them off the couch is good, just as long as it’s healthy. Plus, the extra time they spend at school could possibly be an opportunity for you to hit the gym.


Hit the Sack

Setting a bedtime for weeknights will help your children remain on schedule to get a good night’s sleep. Children need at least ten hours of sleep, and teens need eight and a half to nine hours every night. If the whole family agrees to turn off the TV and other electronics by late evening, everyone can look forward to a more restful night, and high energy with clear thinking the next day.


If you’re looking for additional tips to implement this school year, contact one of us at FAST Ahwatukee. We’d be happy to share additional tips and even create a training program for the entire family through our personal training, sports performance or group fitness classes.

It’s that time of year again: running season. Running season is a time where thousands of people across the state hit the pavement in preparation for their fall, winter, and spring running events, and if you’re anything like me, it’s also the time where we can get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures in Arizona. You may have already seen runners passing through your neighborhood, as individuals or in large groups. Joining a running group in Phoenix can have huge benefits for your life and your sport. In this blog post, I’m going to touch on five reasons why joining a running group might be the right training for you.

  1. Accountability

Life will give you so many reasons to skip out on a solo run, from hitting the snooze button one too many times to making dinner. If you wanted, you can create a reason for every hour of the day to skip out on your much needed cardio time. Alternatively, imagine having a group of running comrades waiting on you to begin their workout. Joining a running group gives individuals a sense of obligation and therefore makes them less likely to miss their training for the day.

  1. Consistency

Like most things in life, consistency will also yield the best results in running. Running groups usually have weekly, or sometimes daily training, and provide you with a specific and structured running plan according to the length of race you plan on participating in. Through this structure and organization, you’ll feel confident knowing what your weekly running goals are, and you will have a clear understanding of what benchmarks you should be hitting leading up to race day.

  1. Social Interaction

Just like being on a sports team, a running group gives you a sense of camaraderie with your running companions. These friendships help to motivate you to push through tough stretches and maintain a consistent pace in your race. Additionally, some group fitness programs, like the running program here at Foothills, offer several social outings throughout the season.

  1. Access to Performance Coaches

Many running groups operate out of a fitness facility or work closely with coaches who design the running program. Having access to a coach is a great resource for runners. They offer a wealth of knowledge and can recommend extra training options to help you reach your goals.

  1. Access to Your Peers’ Knowledge

Joining a running group could be a valuable resource to you simply because of the people that make up the group. You can learn about what gear they are wearing, their nutrition plans, their training programs, and what gadgets they’re using to get the most out of their runs. Furthermore, you can compare performance stats like personal records (PRs), times, and pace to see how you match up. Every runner has their own experience and techniques, being in a running group is a great opportunity to learn what those are and see what works for you.

At FAST, we manage a running group in Phoenix that is currently going into its 12th season. We welcome participants of all ages, abilities, and running styles. Our program caters to anyone in the valley, and lasts 16 weeks. The program is designed to help with preparation for winter running events in California and here in Arizona.

Membership includes Saturday morning runs, Tuesday evening speed workouts, one fitness class at any of our 10 FAST locations, a dri-fit running shirt, group social events, and discounts at Sole Sports. This year the program kicks off on August 19 at the Ahwatukee location.

Let FAST get you ready for your next running event and join us for our 12th annual running group season. For more information on our running group please this page.


Post Attributed to Jonathan Castillo, FAST Facility Manager, BS, PES, USAW (Tempe location).

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is one of Arizona’s premier sports performance facilities with 10 locations providing AZ sports medicine and personal training. FAST is geared toward optimizing the perfect fitness plan for individuals of all ages and fitness levels, and we offer personal, group, and sports-specific training. Our trainers use hands-on, personalized techniques to help you achieve your fitness goals, and you can schedule a free consultation with one of them by going online here. Feel free to contact us or follow our blog for the latest news on AZ sports medicine.

Jonathan Castillo, BS, PES, USAW, and facility manager at our Tempe location, is a Performance Enhancement Specialist who has actively competed in football, wrestling, and Olympic weightlifting—experiences that have made him understand the significance of a full night of sleep. He is here to discuss the importance of sleep and how to strategize for a better night’s rest.

The effects of sleep deprivation

Demanding schedules have left many of us unsatisfied with the amount of sleep we’re getting. The longer you go without sleep, the more sleep you’ll lose as your body builds up a serious sleep deficit. Not to mention a lack of sleep puts a wrench in your fitness productivity.

It’s very important to prioritize sleep. According to a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25% of the U.S. population reports not getting enough sleep and almost 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. In fact, the number of sleep deprived Americans is estimated to be between 50-70 million people.

For many of you, these numbers may not seem surprising and won’t be enough to create some sort of behavioral change, but consider these implications of sleep deprivation:

  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • A weakening of your immune system, increasing your chance of becoming sick
  • Increase in your perception of pain
  • Fatigue
  • Severe weight gain
  • Heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes
  • Decrease in testosterone

Sleep deprivation creates a hazard for others around you as well. For example, 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,550 deaths were accounted for due to driver fatigue. Where do you think the fatigue comes from [1]?

From a training perspective, sleep deprivation increases a stress hormone called cortisol, which if frequently released can lead to suppressed thyroid function, and a decrease in bone density and muscle tissue. This can ultimately hinder recovery from hard training bouts and increase the risk of injury and sickness.

How much sleep do we need?

How much sleep we need varies between individuals, but generally changes as we age. The National Institute of Health suggests that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens 9-10 hours, and adults 7-8 hours [2]. Now, throw in some serious athletic training or general physical activity and your need for sleep becomes increasingly higher. During the course of putting physical stress on the body, your muscle tissues are being broken down, cortisol levels are increasing, and your nervous system needs to recharge. All of this is mended in your sleep. Naturally, the more stress added, the more time it’s going to take to repair all of your bodily processes.

Benefits of Good Sleep

So now that you have an understanding of how much harm a lack of sleep can cause, imagine all of the benefits you receive from actually prioritizing your sleep. For example, researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that in the non-REM phase of sleep (known for being light and dreamless) our brain processes “sleep-spindles.” During this phase, our brain takes facts stored in the hippocampus, processes them, and relocates them to our prefrontal cortex. This essentially frees up space in our hippocampus to take in new information while we are awake. Moreover, the researchers at UC Berkeley also believe that napping during the day refreshes those spindles. In other words, you sleep to make space so that you can learn more and get smarter [3].

Other known benefits of being well-rested include:

  • Improved heart health
  • May prevent cancer
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better cognitive function
  • Bolstered memory
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Bodily repair [4]

How to get a better night’s rest:

  1. Take a hot shower.
  2. Set a regular bedtime. Consistency is key. Train your body when to shut down and it’ll listen.
  3. Turn off all the lights. Even small LED lights should be covered or shut off.
  4. Give yourself about an hour or two without any electronic devices in your face. No Facebook before bed!
  5. Read a book before bed.
  6. Stretching after a hot shower is a good way to get your body to relax and recover well during sleep.
  7. Have some warm tea.

As much as training and nutrition are key elements to living a healthy lifestyle, they weigh heavily on the quality of your sleep. Try to think about your sleeping habits now, and if there are ways you can improve. Typically there’s always something you can do better. I hope this was helpful to all you fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

Happy Dreaming and Sweet Z’s!

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).