Local trainer Anthony Spencer using mother nature to improve his clients.
Anthony Spencer is a personal trainer at the GreatLife Golf and Fitness Club in Leavenworth who conducts the majority of his "War Horse Training" workouts in sand.
To begin, what sort of training do you offer? Why it is unique compared to other programs?
I offer training that is a combination of football and basketball — two of my favorite sports. It consists of pulling and pushing, but what makes it different is the sand. Doing all of these different exercises on an unstable surface provides strength to the smaller muscles that are neglected and become injured as we get older.
Tell us about your background and how you came up with this regimen?
I have always been involved in fitness. I trained my sister and younger relatives when I was in eighth grade. It really came to life when I was an assistant basketball coach at Brown Mackie College, where I worked with Francis Flax for two years.
We did functional training — lots of pushups, sit-ups, sprints and discipline. I went on to Immaculata High School, but I really used my skills at Bonner Springs High School where I was the freshman basketball coach and assistant varsity coach under Andy Price. That year, the freshman team went 17-3 and a lot of it was due to the type of training I constructed. I followed that up with a three year stint at the University of Saint Mary under Jon Bishop. I developed a core program for the men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball and soccer teams.
I then got an idea from Jeff George, a trainer at Maximus Fitness, to go to Great-Life Golf and Fitness to be a part of the Leavenworth Country Club organization.
As far as exercising in sand, what does that do to enhance the workout experience?
Sand is constantly shifting and changing, demanding various muscles in the body to come into play that might not normally be engaged on a pavement or gym floor workout. Running in the sand is also kinder on the joints than running on pavement, because there is less impact on the body.
Sand running requires your body to move through a full range of motion, which stretches your muscles more than running on pavement. You will burn up to 1.6 times as many calories for that extra effort. Sand develops the arch strength in your foot, the calves and all the muscles below the knee. It also develops the quads, which is enhanced from pulling sleds or tipping tires.
I hope to bring yoga to the country club. Yoga on the sand is really beneficial. The sand is on different levels and you have to adjust to that difference, which brings a new element to the pose. It also removes the issue of the hard surface on your knees. When you kneel on your mat laid over the sand, your joints are cushioned. The heat from the sand is also relaxing to the muscles.
Can you provide a few tips for beginners, whether within your program or training in general?
The tips are different for each individual I train whether they are beginners or seasoned athletes. From the experiences I have gained from training high school and college athletes, there is a small window of opportunity to get them physically fit and ready to perform in their sporting events.
What I have done through the years of coaching has allowed me to take what works such as pulling and pushing and doing those same workouts in sand. Again, doing all of these different exercises on sand strengthen smaller muscles while defining core muscles.
Why do you think your program is so successful?
My program works because it's different than what is offered by other personal trainers. The workout I offered can be catered to each person's objective on what they want to tone and strengthen. The sessions I offer can be basic training or can be very challenging in sand. Some of the workouts I have my clients do in the sand consist of pulling a sled with 30-50 pound weights or flipping 200 pound tires. Results are determined on the satisfaction my clients achieve when they see their accomplishments.