Monday, February 10, 2020

Why I Gave Up 2 of my favorite things this January… and Why You Shouldn’t

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are all within 60 days of each other. For so many, it’s their favorite time of the year, and it’s clear to see why. It feels like every day is packed with outings, traveling, visiting family, great food, better desserts, and a ton of booze. For me, it’s no different. So when my business picked up this fall, I was trying to fit in balancing work, a social life, family obligations, and enjoying this time of the year, I did what so many of us do. I savored every type of instant gratification I could get my hands on. I’d power through a long day at work and rush to some seasonally appropriate party, where I’d gorge myself on heavy fall/winter dishes, washing it down with red wine or tumblers of whiskey. I’d come home both mentally and physically exhausted and would have a drink to relax. After a drink or 2, I would end up polishing off any leftovers. 5am would come early of course, and I’d be off to do it all again. This time, feeling the gluttony of the night before weighing me down, making me even less likely to do my own workouts or focus on my own goals.

Enter New Years Day and the start of “Resolution Season.” I knew I needed to make a change, and I knew for myself, it needed to be radical. Dry January has become more and more popular, but I needed to take it to the next level. I needed to give up Alcohol and Sweets…. Cold turkey.

I know what you’re thinking… I’m crazy! But for me, it worked and was exactly what I needed. Telling clients about my Extra Dry January though, I got a lot of questions concerning whether or not THEY should be following my example and dropping all of their major vices cold turkey for an entire month. That answer is a plain and simple, HELL NO! And here’s why.

Goals are an incredibly specific and personal thing. Whether I’m writing my own or looking at the goals of a client, it’s imperative to consider every aspect of their lives. Here are some things to ask yourself:

What is my starting point?

What is my long term goal?

How long do I want it to take to achieve this?

What am I willing to sacrifice? What am I NOT willing to sacrifice?

How motivated am I?

How can I break this down into achievable steps?

It’s not until we break it down into reasonable short term goals that we can look at what aspects of your life you should change. All short term goals are habit changing, and they should be progressive in nature.

For example, if you’ve eaten an entire cake every day for 5 years, cutting that out cold turkey isn’t going to be very effective. Cutting it out cold turkey for one month is going to be even less effective. For starters, you’ll be miserable, and not very likely to keep with it. Once the month is up, you might feel like you instantly want to splurge and end up right back where you started.

A more manageable goal would be to eat HALF a cake every day, or to cut out cake ONE day a week at first. Then you can gradually continue to decrease your intake.

But why wouldn’t I practice what I preach? How can I say that YOU shouldn’t do it, and when it was my January Goal and worked for me?

For me, this is what helps to motivate me. I respond highly to extremes, and it fit into my long term and yearly goals. Having a month to take a break from the things that usually bring me instant gratification gave me the opportunity to reevaluate my priorities, my time management, and gave me the chance to expand what I felt gratification from.

I’ve also given up these things for short amounts of time before. At first, just cutting it out one or two days a week, then a week or two at a time, and have done lengths up to several months even. But I’ve never cut out TWO of my favorite vices for one month before, so it was time to take the step toward this challenge.

The point is, you need to focus your goals on just that… YOU! And I can help with that.

If you or someone you know is struggling to achieve their health, wellness, fitness, or nutrition goals I can help. What I do is so much more than “personal training”. It is all-encompassing health & wellness specifically focused on YOU! If you’re ready for real change and not afraid to put in work, I am currently taking new in-person clients. You can contact me via the ways listed below.

Be well!

Stephen Cornely
Facebook: Triad Wellness Philly
Instagram: @stephenjcornely
LinkedIn: Stephen Cornely

Monday, September 2, 2019

I CAN sit Cross-legged....But now I can't get up!

So you can sit on the floor comfortably? Where do we go from here?!

Can you stand back up from the floor? Can you stand back up after a fall? What if you hurt your arms in said fall? Are you still strong and capable enough to get back up? And does it even matter?

The first reason it may matter to you is because of a study done in 2012 that linked people's ability to sit and stand from the floor with all-cause mortality. People who were able to sit on the floor and stand up with less limb support were found to live longer. On average people who had more trouble getting up were twice as likely to die in the six years following the study!

Here is a link to a news article that describes the test:

For those more science-minded, here is a link to the study:

SO you’re still thinking to yourself, “Well I never want to sit on the floor anyway, so why does this pertain to me?” How about a beach chair or a car that’s low to the ground (think sports car)? What if you need something in a floor level cabinet or under the bed? Are your legs strong and mobile enough to get you into and out of these difficult positions? Training to sit and stand from the floor would equip you with the physical capacity to perform in all these other situations!

And the most important reason for being capable of sitting on the floor is because of what evolution tells us about ourselves. We evolved from animals that sit and lay on the floor comfortably. Early humans were capable of sitting and sleeping on the floor comfortably for extended periods of time. Being able to manipulate your body into comfort while on the floor is part of being human.

So what do you do to facilitate your body’s natural ability to sit on the floor comfortably and consequently be able to get up?

Here are a few basic stretches and strengthening drills to get you to that point:

Wall Butterfly Stretch
Straddle Capsular Hip CARs
90/90 Switch Lv1
Kneel to Half Kneel
Low Lunge Lift Off

These exercises are only the beginning! There are hundreds of ways to get up and down from the floor! There are thousands of deficits that could be causing you pain or the inability to do this natural maneuver! Your best bet is to get assessed and then start your quest!

I suggest you speak with a fitness professional, preferably a Functional Mobility Specialist before starting on your journey to regain/improve/master this basic human movement!

Thanks for reading,
Steve Cornely
IG: @stephenjcornely
FB: Triad Wellness Philly

Monday, August 26, 2019

I Can’t Sit Cross-Legged Style! Can You?

Well, now I can, but I couldn't. At one point in my life, I couldn't sit on the floor comfortably in any position! Think about that ...I just said sitting on the floor was HARD! I remember from elementary school all the way through junior high during assemblies in the gym and students would sit on the floor - sometimes for a few hours at a time... I always felt tight no matter what position I was in. If I sat cross-legged, my hips and ankles would kill me! My hips were unable to open up and so my ankles would have to twist immensely for me to even try to get to that position!  Below you will find pictures of what me sitting on the floor looked like 5 years ago compared to now (note: the before pics are reenacted in my small condo hallway).


If I tried sitting with my feet out in front of me I would be totally hunched over putting a lot of strain on my neck and back! 



If I decided to put my hands behind me to create a little support my shoulders and neck would start to hurt from the extreme tension!

No matter the position, I could never really feel my sit bones (ischial tuberosity) on the floor.  (see picture below)

The most comfortable position I ever found was sitting on my butt on a portion directly superior to the sit bone with my knees bent and my hips externally rotated and my back very rounded ...much like a sad bear.

At first, I wondered why I couldn’t sit comfortably like my peers. I knew I was bigger than everyone else so maybe there was some fat mass getting in the way of joints moving in their greatest range. Maybe my connective tissue was just more dense than others’ because my limbs were heavy and could produce a lot of force so the connective tissue adapted to be stronger and thicker and less mobile? Whatever the reason was, I knew it didn’t matter and that I wanted to be comfortable on the floor. So what did I do? I started figuring out what was limiting me and working to mobilize and increase joint capacity in those areas. More on this in part 2!

Can you sit on the floor comfortably?

If you're interested in some exercises to help you get more comfortable on the floor and help prepare you to stand up stay tuned for Part 2 which will be up later this week!

Thanks for reading!
Stephen Cornely
FB: Triad Wellness Philly
IG: @stephenjcornely

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Are you Getting the Most Out of Every Breath you take?

The diaphragm. Do you know that muscle? I’m willing to bet that if you ask some health and fitness professionals, they will have no idea what the basic characteristics of this muscle are and why it is important in movement. 

The diaphragm is a muscle that is shaped like an umbrella which sits right underneath your rib cage. Although its primary function is that of breathing, it also plays a large role during movement by assisting in moving and stabilizing the rib cage and spinal column.

Just like every other muscle in the body, it can be trained to be more efficient in its movement, stronger in its force production, and to become more flexible.

The first step in creating change in the diaphragm is recognizing your level of control over it. So, how do you know if you are in control of your diaphragm? Try this;

Step 1

Wrap a belt snuggly around your waist. You can use your belly button as a marker - lay the belt on top of it.

Step 2

Lay on your back on a stable surface with your knees bent at 90 degrees, with your hands and feet flat on the floor.

Step 3

Place your spine in a neutral position; said differently, just lay normally/comfortably/naturally.

Step 4

Start a slow and steady breathing pattern, preferably with a 4-8 second inhale and a 6-12 second exhale, slow and steady.

Step 5

Use the belt as feedback. You should feel your back, sides and front of the torso expand into the belt as you inhale. As you exhale the belt should become looser on all sides of the body.

This is where the magic happens: You must try to inflate the 360 degree area of the belly, sides and back. Many people can properly inflate their belly but their back and sides don’t expand at an equal rate!

The torso should expand like a balloon does, equally all the way around. The belt is a great tool to provide you feedback of which points on your torso you have difficulty breathing into.

Spend 2 minutes a day practicing this technique. As you become comfortable with it, try carrying it over to times you find yourself sitting, standing, side lying, or even moving. Being able to expand the torso equally on all sides is an external way to see that the diaphragm is contracting efficiently on all sides. Being able to master this skill is just step one in mastering your breath, your spinal movement, and even your stress and anxiety level!

Stephen Cornely FRCms LMT

Triad Wellness Philly


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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why You Need to Be Stretched Out!

Most people categorize a “workout” session as a time when their heart rate is elevated, they feel the pump or burn in their muscles, they sweat, and they feel sore afterward. People will spend 5 minutes MAXIMUM to cool down after their workout session by doing some generic static stretching. This minimal amount of time and effort is not enough to sustain, let alone expand, range of motion in a joint or the flexibility of a muscle.

My name is Stephen Cornely and I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a Licensed Kinstretch instructor. When I first started working out my goal was always to crush myself physically. Sweat pouring down my face, breathing so hard I felt like I was going to vomit, and muscles so sore I couldn’t sit on the toilet without wincing in pain! Then I discovered the power of stretching and mobility work. My own personal mobility practice has kept me injury free, made me stronger, and helped me recover more quickly from grueling workouts.

I want to bring this awesome recovery method to all of Philadelphia. Together with Philadelphia’s original premier megaformer fitness studio, Scuplt360, we have created Recover360. Recover 360 stretching sessions consist of both a passive and active component. This means that when you lie on my table there will be times of deep relaxation as well as times of intense effort! The combination of those in a single stretching session is the most effective and clear path to more body control, range of motion, flexibility, and reduced injury risk.

Using the most scientifically proven principles to design your PERSONAL stretch sessions, you can expect to reap many rewards! Some of the benefits of these sessions are:
  1. Psychological & physiological relaxation through use of breathing techniques
  2. Increased muscle flexibility through relaxation of nervous system
  3. Increased strength and capacity in end ranges of joints which can mitigate risk of injury 
  4. Increased awareness of one’s body through increased activation of sensory and motor neurons
  5. Increased joint health and longevity 
To set up an evaluation session, contact me or sign up on MindBody at Sculpt360. Appointments are limited!

Stephen Cornely LMT, FRCmc
IG: @stephenjcornely
FB: Triad Wellness Philly

Monday, April 8, 2019

Why I Hate Shoes (nothing personal, Jimmy Choo)

As soon as we are born, we are put in shoes. Cages that prevent our naturally dexterous toes from expressing their mobility. These so called “support systems” actually hinder our true support system… the tissue and musculature in the foot, ankle and lower leg. Our legs are designed to be our connection point to the earth and support our weight for hours as we move across it! For some reason, we have been told from birth that our feet are fragile and need extra support in order to go play outside?

Until its culturally acceptable to go everywhere barefoot, I suppose I will continue to be imprisoned in the mittens that society forces on me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Living in a city there is no way I’m stepping outside without shoes on, and snow and ice could be tricky… but we don’t have to be in our shoes all the time. Take them off at work while sitting at your desk, or if you’re relaxing at home.

There are other steps you can take to help your feet thrive while just sitting around watching tv! Here are some preventative self care methods you can perform daily to promote the health of the bones, fascia, tendons, and ligaments in your feet!

1. Toe Spacers
Many shoes and sneakers, and particularly dress shoes, are very tapered at the toe end. . That tapering can cause hammer toes, bunions, and ingrown toenails. Toe spacers can be easily worn around the house and promote space between the toes. I recommend starting with the small foam ones and slowly working your way up to something with more integrity like silicone or plastic. There are also socks with built in toe spacers that you might try! For an extra benefit, try wiggling and controlling your toes while the toes spacers are in place so that you learn active control of this passively spread position!

2. Ankle & Toe CARs
CAR is an acronym for Controlled Articular Rotation, which is a fancy way of saying joint circle. Remember in gym class when you did really big arm circles to warm up? Think that but much slower, more intentional, more controlled and, in this case, doing it for your ankles and toes. Slowly moving your joints daily in their fullest range of motion is quite possibly the biggest bang for your buck activity you can do for the health and longevity of a joint. Here are links to both ankle and toe CARs:



3. Ankle Strengthening Drills
If you must wear high heels on a regular basis, know that the muscles of your lower legs are being put in passively stretched or contracted positions for long periods of time. Even when you wear sneakers or dress shoes, most of them have a heel drop. This means that the heel of the footwear is slightly higher than the toe, and that leaves your calves and your tibialis anterior (shin muscles) in passive positions.

The soles of some shoes are almost a full inch wider than the shoe itself, such that you’re more or less standing on a platform. This creates multiple problems. First, it prevents the muscles on the side of your ankle (peroneals) from working and stabilizing during gait. Eventually, not using those muscles, you will lose them. Next, if your ankle rolls off this platform, you are asking your body to deal with an intense amount of weight which can cause an ankle sprain.

Here are some beginner to intermediate drills you can do to start strengthening the ankle multiple ranges of motion.

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Ankle Plantarflexion

Ankle Inversion

Ankle Eversion

Taking care of your feet is a lifelong effort. Our feet are the most important part of the body for locomotion - they provide sensory feedback on what objects we are walking on, where our center of mass is in relation to our feet, and they produce the force that propels us across the floor! Unfortunately, the way we live and what we wear often conflicts with what is best for our health. I promise you that spending some consistent time working these simple exercises into your daily life will pay big dividends in the form of enhanced and pain-free mobility.

Stephen Cornely CPT LMT FRCms
Triad Wellness Philly
ig: stephenjcornely
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

3 reasons to start working out and NONE of them are weight loss!

Exercise and movement have so many benefits that it’s a shame we tend to focus only on losing weight. Exercise has a positive impact on literally every system and organ in the body including the heart, muscles, brain, and lymphatic system! In fact, we are so connected and dependent on movement, that in biology the ability to move is a characteristic necessary to classify an organism as an animal!

Although weight loss can be a driving force for many to start a workout regimen, it can also be a hindrance when our quick (and sometimes unreasonable) weight loss goals aren’t met. Unfortunately, for most this causes them to stop working out all together, and then their whole body is worse off for it. If this sounds like you, I can assure you that there are so many reasons to keep moving in your life! Hopefully learning about some of these will help you shift focus during exercise and will keep you on the right path toward health and wellness!

Reason 1: Self Care

Now-a-days self care has become synonymous with meditation, Netflix binging on your couch, or visits to the spa for a Swedish massage. While all of these have their place, your body craves movement more than anything to take care of itself.

Movement pumps blood to all areas of the body. Blood contains nutrients from food intake which helps the body rebuild and repair damaged tissue...which to me, sounds an awful lot like self care!

Movement also promotes release of endorphins (or endocannabinoids, research still out on that one!) which leads to feelings of euphoria and increased positivity!

Movement also forces fluid into joints, lubricating them, which allows for pain free movement within the joint. Movement is the only way that your joints can self care. The blood supply is very low in tight areas of the joints, and the pressure created by movement literally forces nutrients and fluid into the joint. Thus, allowing the joint to perform self care.

Reason 2: Detoxification
Let’s be honest, we all know this isn’t a real thing, right? The body naturally removes “toxins” from itself. You literally have an organ devoted to this (the liver) and a whole system that is constantly battling against foreign invaders (lymphatic system). If we need to actively do something to “detox” our body why don’t we stay drunk for days after a night of drinking?

The closest thing to detoxification that I know of is movement! Movement requires energy. To produce energy, the systems in our body have to start using what’s around and available. Stored carbohydrates and fats will be thrown into the gas tank and burned for fuel to produce movement. Unlike a juice cleanse, a method of “detoxification” through movement WILL actually lead to depletion of substances in your body.
Movement can also create sweat. Although sweat is 99% water and is not a way our body excretes “toxic” substances, it does have a cooling and refreshing effect on our body. This release of water and salt can also decrease bloat which is what is happening in most people when they go on a “detox”. Finally, movement has euphoric effects that can make us feel lighter and airier instead of sluggish and weighed down - two of the top reasons people feel like they need to do a detox!

Reason 3: Wakefulness
It is pretty well known that movement can make you feel alert, awake, focused, and more energetic! Movement increases wakefulness (the time consciously awake solving life’s problems) by increasing blood flow, increasing oxygen transportation, increasing hormone transportation, and putting the body into a anabolic state to promote growth after a hard workout! There are a number of studies that show exercise can increase working memory, mood, and alertness. It also will help with better sleep and circadian rhythms, making sure that when you’re awake, your wakefulness is on point!

Self-care, “detoxification”, and wakefulness are all things to keep in mind when you’re starting a new exercise routine. It is helpful to write daily notes about how you’re feeling before, during, and after exercise. Specific notes on how exercise makes you feel will be motivating when you look back at them and see how far you’ve come.

Sure, weight management is important but weight is primarily dictated by nutrition NOT exercise. Shifting focus toward other reasons for working out will help you keep a healthy habit going over the long run.

Stephen Cornely
FB: Triad Wellness Philly
Insta : @stephenjcornely