We’re fifteen years into the new millennium, and technology is still advancing faster than that time Superman flew around the Earth to turn back time.


At Asheville Family Fitness, we rely on technology to simplify and streamline almost all of our systems. From planning workouts, to tracking member accounts, we’ve got an app for everything.


Today I thought we’d share some of the tools and gizmos that keep us connected, organized, and productive. (We do our best, anyway.)


Exercise Resources


American Council on Exercise (ACE)

There are numerous certifications available to a personal trainer. Each board differs slightly in its approach, and some certification boards are better than others.

Trish, for example is ACE certified. As long as she keeps her credentials current, she has access to an amazing exercise library, as well as a quarterly magazine full of informative articles and ideas (that’s where we got the idea for Slim it to Win It, our team weight-loss challenge).

Many of our past programs and class ideas have come from ACE. And hey! One of our members – Dan Green – just happens to be a writer for them! Small world.


American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM is another certification board; that’s what Ross has. Similar to ACE, they provide all their trainers with an exercise library, videos and other helpful resources.

We just started using this, and we’re in love. There is a vast exercise library which includes detailed instruction (and videos!). We can create custom workout templates from the library, or upload our own moves.

Eventually we’ll be able to build Gx classes and custom client workouts, that we can share with y’all via social media.

There’s articles galore, and even free CEU’s to keep your trainers legit. Super psyched to get more familiar with this tool.


Overall Health & Well-Being

This is a fitness & health blog putting out great content right now. With everything from How to Do the Perfect Kettlebell Swing, to The Unexpected Benefits of Watching Cat Videos at Work, we love their clean design, punchy tone and informative articles.



You can find everything from relationship advice, to exercise routines, to healthy recipes on this site. I use it a lot to source content for our Facebook page.


Communication / Organization


Google Drive

We’re a really team-oriented staff. Big decisions get discussed, re-discussed, and pretty much beaten to death before we make a move. In order to do this without detonating each other’s inboxes, we are huge fans of Google Drive

We like Drive because of its seemingly endless storage capacity, and the ability to create “living” documents – anyone can add or edit the content, on his or her own time, without creating an email thread.

It also provides a place for document storage that’s impervious to computer crashes. Our material is safe and secure.
What we use it for:

  • Planning events
  • New program design
  • Tracking member stats (like when we did Slim it to Win It and had to track everyone’s weight, measurements, and body fat percentage.



Sometimes, I’m working up a web page, while Lisa drafts a printed brochure. We both need to access our professional images without sending them back and forth to each other 1,000 times. We use Dropbox so all our images can live in one place – and be accessed from anywhere.


Virtual Meetings


We like meetings. The trainers meet every other week, actually. But because we’re such a small team, we’re NEVER all in the gym at the same time. We often have virtual meetings so one of us doesn’t have to come in on our day off.


Google Hangouts

It’s just like Skype or FaceTime, but Hangouts lets you video chat with as many people as you need to, for free. Plus they have funny little hats and mustaches you can put on your coworkers while they’re talking. As long as you have a Google account, all you need to do is add the plug-in, and you’re good to go.


Customer Management System (CMS)


This is the big kahuna. For the past year, we’ve been using ZenPlanner, which has been…okay. We’re currently in the process of switching over to FrontDeskHQ, which seems smoother and more streamlined in a number of ways.

Stay tuned for more info on the big switch, when it’s happening, and what it means for you. (Nothing will really change on your end; there will just be a learning curve at first.)


What tools and gizmos do YOU use to help you stay healthy and organized? We’d love to share!

Guess How Much Money We Raised for ALS?

Taj Mahal



Jack’s Fight was set up to help families deal with the fiscal smackdown that accompanies an ALS (or similar) diagnosis. Some of the money goes the national ALS association. I’m not sure how they decide what goes where, but I do know that 100% of the money goes to the cause.


We are SO thankful to all of you for purchasing raffle tickets, bidding on our silent auction, and showing up to our legendary fitness challenge. (If you weren’t here, you missed an epic dance-off starring the boss himself. He won.)


Thanks to everyone from Jack, his family, and the AFF family. Putting this event together was life-changing. We hope it was just the first of many future fundraisers to come.


Here’s to Jack!


What Are You Doing This Weekend? Cancel it and Check This Out.


He’s gonna die.


It’s not a thought that crosses your mind, while you sit through another boring business meeting.


It’s not something you remember when your mom reminds you for the millionth time that it’s been three years since your last visit.


It’s not even lurking in the back of your mind when you stand next to your man, in front of God and everybody, vowing to stick together in sickness or in health, ’till death do you part.


It might be a universal truth – we’re all gonna die, sooner or later – but it certainly isn’t something we like to think about, let alone talk about.


I didn’t used to think about it much either. Even though I’ve watched a brain tumor destroy my family. Even though I’ve watched people I love disintegrate before my eyes. Even though I’ve been to more funerals than anyone else I know.


Death isn’t on our radar, until it has to be. Until it muscles its way into your consciousness in the form of an aggressive tumor, a freak accident, a brain aneurysm. ALS.


Usually, when death does confront us, we run the other way. It’s hard to talk about; it makes us uncomfortable. What do you say to someone who’s dying? How can you possibly relate to them without acknowledging that yes, this could just as easily be your aggressive tumor, your freak accident, your ALS? And that you are ridiculously, inappropriately relieved that it ISN’T?


It takes an enormous amount of bravery to hang out with a dying person and not treat them like a dying person. It requires a compassion so large and deep, that digging it up shakes the very earth you stand on.


But if you’re very very fortunate, once in a while you’ll cross paths with someone who makes it easy.


That’s what it’s like to spend time with Jack.


Jack is charismatic and gregarious. He’s been places. He can wax on about any number of topics, from launching a small business, to the price of tea in India. He has a loving family, and recently realized a lifelong dream to retire and purchase a small, beautiful mountain farm.


Also? Jack has ALS.


The voice that’s commanded audiences now slurs a bit and gets short of breath. The firm handshake that’s sealed hundreds of deals is now interrupted by his shaking hands.


Jack will be the first one to tell you how grateful he is – and you’ll believe him. He and his family are the very definition of proactive. They took measurements at his Physical Therapy sessions, so they could build the tools he needed at home. They made a beautiful website to get the word out and accept donations. They travel back and forth across North Carolina, raising money and canoodling with the National ALS Association.


Not only that, but the Jack’s Fight campaign isn’t just for Jack or his family. Its mission is to help all families affected by the fiscal nightmare that comes with a  Motor Neuron Disease (MND) diagnosis.


We consider ourselves lucky to know Jack Crowley. So lucky in fact, that we’re pulling out all the stops to help him in his quest.


If you’re around this Saturday, October 24th, come by the gym for a big fundraiser. We’re running a silent auction all this week, and raking in raffle prizes from all over the community, including gift cards for local restaurants, personal training sessions, massage, and a whole lot more.


Go to for more information.


If you can’t make it on Saturday, you can donate anytime this week, in person or online. We accept cash, checks and most major credit cards (see below).

When Jack says that the physical damage done by ALS is nothing compared to the fiscal damage, and lists the astronomical cost of the medications and machines he requires, and how none of them are covered by insurance, what he’s really saying is this:


My family is going to lose me, and there’s nothing you or I can do about that. But losing me, AND falling into financial ruin? No. That, we can do something about.


In Jack’s own words: The bell has rung for the final round. Kick the corner stool aside.


Lets stand together and fight!


Feeling a Little Scattered? It Might Be in the Air (Literally)

Fifty-degree nights? The first dried-up leaves scattered across the sidewalk? It’s Fall, y’all!


Get ready for an exciting season of pumpkin picking, hay rides, and leaf-peeping — accompanied by increased anxiety, trouble concentrating, and (possibly) some massive upheavals in your life.


For every person you know that LOVES fall, I guarantee there’s another who dreads it. Sure, it’s beautiful. The food is the best – right?? And the weather! The perfect happy medium between muggy summer and craptastic winter.


But it’s also the busiest time of year. Activities increase, days shorten, schedules explode. There’s a pervasive feeling of anticipation and impatience. Like you’ve had too much coffee on an empty stomach. It’s almost as if there’s something in the air.


Well…there IS.


Starting a new gym membership is a daunting proposition. But it doesn’t have to be.


It’s one thing to get over the financial hump and make the commitment on paper. But once that’s done, you have to actually go there three times a week.


On top of that, you can get a little lost around all that equipment. The other members seem so confident in what they’re doing, and there’s all these fit little trainers running around like they know everything.


Truth: Most large gyms make the on-boarding process intimidating on purpose. So you feel obligated to buy personal training sessions. Or – even better – you just keep paying your monthly dues, without ever showing up.


AFF is a horse of a different color. Because what we want for you more than anything? Is to USE OUR GYM.

Personal Trainers at Asheville Family Fitness


The trainers might be fit (we hope) and smart (we think), but above all, we CARE.


You don’t know this, but we talk about you. We meet every two weeks and hash out whatever’s happening in the gym. We have each other’s backs, and yours.


And the last thing we talked about was: How can we better acclimate new members to the gym? What’s missing from this process? Is there anything we can do for our existing members, to help them stay on track?

Here’s what we came up with. Three different session types to help every level of gym-goer get where they need to go.


Scenario #1: You’ve been doing the same routine for a while and sense it’s time to step things up. Or, you’ve just been told you need to strengthen your glutes/core/back, but you’re not really sure what that means.


You know it’s always best to get a trainer’s guidance, but you can’t always make it to a class. Plus, your issue is pretty specific and you’re not sure you’ll get the specific modification you need.


You need: Ask a Trainer. A one-hour block of time in a trainer’s schedule, when he/she is available to help members with specific questions or issues. You can show up any time during this hour to get answers. This isn’t for brand-new members who need an entire routine – see Scenario #3.


How to book: Look for Ask a Trainer on the class schedule. You can sign up ahead of time, or just show up!


Scenario #2: You’re here, you’re motivated, but you just want everyone to leave you alone while you do your thing. As soon as you figure out what that is.


You’re comfortable with the idea of a gym, but it’s been a while. You know you like to strength train but don’t feel ready to delve into free weights and barbells.


Helloooo Nautilus machines! (We have those.)


You need: Equipment Orientation. A half-hour block when you can come in and learn how to set up and adjust our workout equipment. You’ll learn where the seat needs to be, how much weight you need, and how many sets and reps to do. We’ll write everything down and create your very own folder, so you can keep track of your progress.


How to book: Look for Equipment Orientation on the class schedule. Then, just show up!


Scenario #3: You have no idea what a gym even IS.


You finally joined that gym you’ve been driving by for the past six months. You have a good feeling about this place. The staff was super enthusiastic, and you promised you’d be in the very next day for your first workout.




You don’t have any idea what a “workout” actually entails. That’s okay, you think. I’ll just hop on the treadmill and it’ll look like I know what I’m doing.


But you can’t even turn the darn thing ON. When did they start making treadmills so complicated?


You need: AFF Start-Up Session. A 45-minute, one-on-one session with one of our trainers – a must for gym newbies. We’ll take your pie-in-the-sky goals and bring them down to earth. (Maybe pie was a bad place to start.) We’ll hear your concerns, questions, worries, fears, past experiences, and current state of mind, and then we’ll create a workable plan you can handle right away.


How to book: Usually scheduled at the front desk during membership signup. But you can stop by anytime and ask to schedule one.


You don’t need to know what you’re doing. You don’t even have to know which foot is your left.


All you have to do?


Is ask for help.



Whenever someone says, “I want to be more flexible,” they’re usually thinking:


“I’d love to be able to touch my toes.”

“I can’t check my blind spot without turning all the way around.”

“Everything hurts.”

“I feel so TIGHT all the time.”


Most people think the solution is to stretch more. Start a yoga practice, maybe.


Which is great, of course. But there’s more to flexibility than stretching.


What you think of as being “flexible” – moving around easily, picking things up off the floor without creaking like your grandfather – is actually a range of motion issue.


There are two main things you can do to increase your range of motion (R.O.M.) — that have nothing to do with stretching.


1.  Move your joints. Stiffness in your joints can result from dehydration, too much sitting (or standing) in the same position, arthritis, and inflammation.


To address inflammation, look into an anti-inflammatory diet. Reducing your sugar intake helps a LOT, and identifying food sensitivity can make a huge difference as well.


When you exercise, try a series of dynamic stretches and joint mobility exercises. The point is to take your joints through their full range of motion, over and over again. This produces synovial fluid, which is a joint lubricant (think Tin Man/oil can). The more you move your joints, the more synovial fluid you’ll produce regularly, thus increasing your overall range of motion over time.


2.  Release your fascia. (Say what now?) Fascia is like a web surrounding each muscle. Unlike muscle fibers, it doesn’t have elasticity – meaning, it doesn’t contract and relax. Once it tightens up, it pretty much stays that way.


You may (or may not) have heard the term self myofascial release, which is a fancy term for foam rolling. Using a dense foam cylinder, you roll your muscles like a rolling pin, holding the extra-tender spots until they dissipate.


Therapy_Ball_PLUS_WebYou can achieve the same result with…balls! Racquet balls, lacrosse balls, and these Yoga-Tune-Up balls work really well for the nooks and crannies a foam roller can’t get.


This September, I’m starting a series of Pop-Up classes specifically addressing range of motion. We’ll roll around on some balls, find your trigger points, and loosen up all those tight, sticky places.


The first one is all about shoulders, on September 2nd at 12:15 PM. We’re lovin’ up the shoulders! Register HERE.


Like this post? You might also like:

Loosen Up!

A Good Warmup Goes a Long Way

The Four Most Important Stretches to do Every Day

We get it – stretch breaks are important. If you work at a desk, use the Internet, and have a neck (or any combination of the three), you know this.


But…do you DO it?


It’s not easy to tear yourself away from the screen. You can try setting an hourly reminder, creating office-wide stretch parties, or inventing some trigger that happens at regular intervals. (Every time you get a spam email, uou stretch?)


But sometimes, you’re smack in the middle of step 57 of a website update (out of 60!) Sometimes, you’re writing a blog post about stretching, and you’re in the zone, man. Other times, you simply mute the reminder and promise to stretch “later.” (Only then, you never do.)


And all that is only if you have the reminders in place, which most of us don’t.


I can’t help with your deadlines, or the ergonomics of your office plan. I can’t do anything about the 6,017 emails you get in an hour, or the fact that all of them expect an immediate reply.


What I can do, is simplify the stretching part. All you REALLY need, is four stretches. Do them in the morning and/or at the end of the day. Do them before and after lunch. Do them whenever you think about it, and that will be better than not doing them at all.


Technology is pretty cool. Because of technology, we can locate long lost friends and go on vacation without getting lost. A quick internet search yields countless recipes for healthy lemon squares. We have white noise apps to help us sleep, productivity apps to help us work smarter, and shopping apps to help us spend money.


Fitness and nutrition apps especially, are having a moment. Mobile and wearable technology are dominating the space for workout and diet tracking.


If I had to guess, I’d say about 65% of the people I see at the gym (or in a health coaching capacity) are using one of these apps and/or gadgets to help them lose weight.


Here’s what’s good about that:


If you’ve never paid attention to what you put in your mouth or how many calories you burned on the elliptical, it’s a great way to bring some awareness to these things. It’s pretty eye-opening to see that your half-hour stroll on the treadmill didn’t even TOUCH the turkey sandwich you ate for lunch.


Mindfulness is always a good thing, and it’s non-negotiable if you’re trying to make serious lifestyle changes.


I have no problem with clients using these tools in conjunction with their health coaching and workout programs. Oftentimes, the FitBit was THE thing that pushed them to initiate change. I wouldn’t dream of taking that away from anyone.


Here’s what’s not so good:


Even the best, fanciest products can’t give you a truly personalized program. At the end of the day, these apps and gadgets function on a numbers-only basis. Your tailored program is generated by the numbers you enter – your weight, your age, your resting heart rate, how much weight you want to lose, etcetera.


Also, I get that weight loss is an important goal. But, in and of itself, it’s not usually enough to facilitate the kind of permanent lifestyle change required for lifelong health. I think this is largely because of one simple truth:


Weight loss is complicated. And really unpredictable.


If all you’re tracking are numbers, and the numbers stay put for three weeks or more – despite all your hard work – there are three possible outcomes:


1. You blame yourself. You must not be “doing it right.” You need to work out even harder, eat even less, make more sacrifices. This all boils down to a core belief that you’re just not (fill in the blank) enough. Not smart enough. Diligent enough. Motivated enough. Good enough.


2. You get discouraged and give up. If you weigh 225 without doing anything differently, and you still weigh 225 after depriving yourself and sweating like a maniac in the gym, why bother?


3. You take it all in stride as part of the process, keep doing what you’re doing, and have faith that it will all work out.


How many of you choose Option 3? Be honest.


This is why it helps to have non-numeric goals for your health. How’s your energy level? Your mood? Your digestion? Do you have skin irritation or dry, brittle nails? What about mental focus? Are you able to concentrate for long periods of time, or are you easily distracted? Do you have brain fog? Do you sleep through the night?


A gadget can’t track those things (except for sleep). But often, those factors are the first areas to show improvement when you make positive changes for your health. If you’re not tracking things like mood, energy and digestion, you’re missing out on all manner of celebration-worthy milestones.


One more thing: all the gizmos in Silicon Valley can’t tell you if your hormones are out of whack, or if a medication’s side effects are behind your excess weight.


That doesn’t mean your efforts to eat cleaner and move more are in vain. It just means there are other factors at play that can’t be fully addressed by lifestyle change alone.


Here’s how to get the most out of a tracking app:


Meet with an expert. Sign up for a health coaching evaluation for help with implementing healthy changes that actually fit in to your daily life. Have a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn how to get the most out of your workouts. And if you suspect hormonal or other systemic factors, make an appointment with a physician.


Take some time to check in with the rest of your body. Rate all the factors listed above on a scale of one to ten. Ten = unbearable; one = nonexistent. Every month or so, revisit them and see if you notice any improvement. (Then celebrate it!)


Always, always, ALWAYS eat real food. There’s more to food than calories, milligrams, and recommend daily allowances. Read the ingredients on your food labels instead of the Nutrition Facts, and make sure you know what you’re putting into your body.


The conclusion: fitness and nutrition tracking tools have their place in a successful weight loss journey, but they’re not the end-all. Even in this age of technology, it still boils down to education, compassion, and dedication to change. The gizmos and gadgets just make it a little easier.

This post was originally published at my website,, on June 11th, 2015. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to “going viral,” with over 200 hits on my site. I’ve received a really positive, personal response from friends, clients, and even some strangers – and I wanted to share it with my AFF family. I’ve edited the language a bit for this audience (the original post has some naughty words.) Hope you enjoy! ~Sam


A couple months before my wedding (which was at the end of May, thankyouverymuch), I sat across the table from my man and said, “I think I’d like to shape up a little bit before the wedding. Nothing major, you know? Just a bit of slimming.”


Full disclosure: I was just starting to crawl back into the light after a crippling bout of depression. I’d recently been to the doctor’s office, where I weighed about 4 pounds more than I usually do. And I had just tried on a bunch of ill-fitting bathing suits. I’m a genius.


He stopped what he was doing and looked at me as if he were about to cry. Then he said, “That makes me want to cry.”


With all the stress we had going on – the planning, the financial fallout of all that missed work, the crippling bout of depression – why would I put this pressure on myself? We were working so hard already. Couldn’t we have a little compassion? Couldn’t we just love ourselves as is?


Point taken.


But, wedding day. Seeing friends and relatives for the first time in years. Dress.


I didn’t ignore him, because he was right. He usually is. But I knew I wasn’t wrong for wanting to be my Best Self on the hugest day of my life. I just had to reconsider the how and why.


Why did I want to work out all the time and eat super clean in the weeks leading up to my wedding? Because I wanted my body to look bangin’ – duh. But even more than that, I wanted to FEEL bangin’ – smooth, strong, feminine, transcendent. THIS is the kind of why that sticks.


But how? Could I go all Jillian Michaels on myself, berating and yelling and nothing is ever good enough? Sure. God knows I’ve done it before. (And who didn’t love hanging out with me?)


But this is what Matthew was getting at – he was thrilled to the gills to be marrying me. Me, with all my perfectionism and toenail fungus. Me, with my unquenchable thirst for adventure, and staggering inability to carry a tune. My curves and my olive skin; my nuclear-grade garlic breath.


This is the fundamental conflict of all wellness programs: recognizing something that’s not working and taking the steps to change it – while loving and accepting yourself unconditionally AT THE SAME TIME. It seems oppositional; two mentalities that can’t coexist.


Every time a client blows off my advice or drowns in a pile of Milano cookies, I know this duality is somehow the cause.


I’m not going to pretend to have the Answer, but I know it has something to do with making changes because you love yourself, being brave enough to try, and loving enough to be okay when you crash and burn. I haven’t mastered this, not by a long shot. But these past two months, I came really, really close.


I designed a gentle, six-week cleanse. I went for easily prepared meals, and put extra focus on body care, like skin brushing and cold showers. (Future program offering, check.) In a radical departure from my anti-numbers stance, I even took my measurements that first day, in a rush of excitement at my future before-and-after stats.


I had a few setbacks, including out of state travel, and getting sick for the first time in five years. But by the final week I was feeling like freaking Gisele. And it showed – I started wearing dresses instead of yoga pants every day, and let my long hair flow instead of rocking the standard messy bun. A few people even commented that I looked more svelte. (I love that word, svelte. So rare that you get to use it in a sentence.) My energy and mood were the top of the pops.


And guess what? After six weeks of green smoothies, hardcore workouts, grain-free dinners, and detox tea, I didn’t lose a single inch.


Wind taken out of sails (adj.): That moment when Sam wrapped the tape measure around her waist, after busting her ass on a six-week cleanse, only to discover that it hadn’t even changed one millimeter. (Cue sad trombone.)


I was bummed. I was mad! And of course, I never told anyone about the tape measure, so I was all alone with my disappointment.


I went on with my day, deflated. I flirted with the Jillian Michaels reproaches – I didn’t do enough, didn’t do it right, I wasn’t pushing hard enough in my workouts. But I knew that a) this wasn’t true, and b) this attitude was a kind of regression for me that wouldn’t accomplish anything good. I ricocheted between these two inner monologues all day long.


This right here, is the reason I hate using numbers in a wellness program. A number, on its own, has no good or bad properties. One-hundred-forty-six is the number of pounds that equals Sam. Whether that’s “too much” or “too little” is a contrivance of the fitness industry, the weight loss industry, the Entertainment Weekly magazine whose cover I can see from my perch at this coffee shop.


How I feel in my body? That’s real. In fact, there’s nothing MORE real. How disrespectful of me, how demented, how absurd, to allow the little lines on a tape measure to invalidate my svelte-ness!


And here’s another truth: people who radiate strength, femininity, and transcendence? Are HAPPY. And people who buy into their inner Jillian Michaels, beating themselves up all day long? Are NOT happy.


I decided to forget about the stupid tape measure. I never did get back on the scale to see if I’d dropped any pounds. Screw that.


Instead, I chose to rock on with my bad self. I kept hitting the gym, eating my greens, sipping my tea.


And on my wedding day, I didn’t feel like Gisele. I felt like me. Authentic, serene, beautiful me.