Philadelphia Union

09 September 4:59 pm

It’s a good Tuesday here at Philadelphia Union.

The club trained this morning at Chester Park in preparation for Saturday’s match against rival New York Red Bulls (3 p.m., purchase tickets). Training ran close to two hours today, given interim manager Jim Curtin gave the guys Wednesday off this week to break up what is shaping up to be a demanding next few days. The Union will embark on yet another three-game, eight-day odyssey highlighted by next Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup championship at PPL Park against the mighty Seattle Sounders (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

Speaking of the Open Cup, philadelphiaunion.com caught up with midfielder Sebastien Le Toux to pick his brain about the upcoming match in addition to what winning it all in Philly would mean to him personally. You can check that feature out here.

One quote from our conversation with Le Toux which we thought was pretty cool was:

“It feels good to be doing so well at this point in the season. I feel good physically. But it’s not just me. You can see on the field that some guys are finding their stride too, like Andrew [Wenger] and Conor [Casey]. We know we can count on each other for one of us to score every game. Right now it’s working well. If it’s not me, I just hope it’s a team win. Usually it’s one of the three of us scoring a goal. So it’s great for the team and we’re confident we can score goals now.”

Just seven days until that match, you know, in case you were wondering…

Moving on…

The trophy tour continued today as the Cup made a lunch time stop at the Independence Blue Cross building in Center City. Employees took candids with the Cup and even purchased their seats for next Tuesday’s match right there on the spot. According to a ticket representative on site, about 30 tickets were purchased during the two-hour trophy stop, an impressive number as the momentum of Tuesday night’s match continues to increase.

IBX is known for preaching "healthy choices," so staying on that same topic, Union strength coach Kevin Miller posted his latest blog which touches on the right foods to fuel your body the way top professional athletes do. As always, it’s a great read…

This is pretty cool…

We are putting the finishing touches on it, but are working with MLSSoccer.com to have midfielder-defender Maurice Edu take over their SnapChat account beginning Sunday night into Tuesday morning in advance of the Cup. Are you on SnapChat? If so, best to advise you to follow both Edu and the League – it’s always entertaining.

Speaking of entertainment, pop star Ed Sheeran gave us some love before his show at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night showing off the jersey we presented him with at a recent practice. We never knew it, but Sheeran is another huge fan of the U.

Hoping you can make it out soon to bang the drum in the River End, Ed. 

We’ll return Wednesday with a progress update on the Union’s practice fields, off-day news and notes and more trophy tour stops. Finally, be sure to check philadelphiaunion.com tomorrow morning as we announce first some breaking player news.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

09 September 2:06 pm

Think of your body like a car. If you put cheap gas in your vehicle there is a good chance that your automobile will run slow and may even break down. I use this analogy with the athletes I work with because I think it gives them a clear image of what can happen when you put poor fuel into an engine. I look at our body like an engine. If we feed it the essential nutrients and minerals that we need, we give ourselves the best chance to run efficiently as well as reduce the chance of injury. Below are some tips that may help you when it comes to your nutrition.

Water is essential to recovery, performance and life. It’s essential if you want to reach peak performance so drink up! The quality of your water is important as well.  A brand that I like to drink is called Gerolsteiner (Mineral water).

When you go food shopping you should spend the majority of your money on products that are located on the perimeter of the store.

Stay away from the middle isles as much as possible. On the outside you will find products like vegetables, meats, fruit, dairy, eggs, etc. On the inside you will find processed foods that your body does not need.

Eat vegetables with every meal. An easy way to do this is to add vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, kale and broccoli to your meals. If you eat eggs in the morning mix in some peppers and make an omelet or put kale into a smoothie. Have a salad at lunch time and fill it with the vegetables of your choice. There are so many ways that you can mix in some vegetables to your daily routine.

Choose the highest quality foods that you can afford. I never tell anyone that they need to eat organic food. Eat what you can afford and always look for fresh food when shopping.

When frying certain foods cook mostly with coconut oil and grassfed butter. Avoid cooking at too high of a temperature if possible. High temperatures can cause foods to oxidize which could cause problems for your body.

Eggs are a great way to start the day. The yolk has the majority of the health benefits that our body needs. Don’t make the mistake of just eating egg whites. Eat the whole egg.

Consume foods that improve your digestion. My top three are the following:

  • Grassfed yogurt (avoid the high sugar and low/no fat varieties)
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

Fermented foods are very good for your digestion.

Avoid processed carbohydrates as much as possible.  Good carbohydrate choices would be green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, berries, pumpkin, plantains, white rice and fruit in moderation. The ability to control your blood sugar levels is very important when it comes to metabolic function.

Plan your meals and think ahead. Always have a snack with you in case you get hungry at work or before a training session. A good example would be a handful of macademia nuts or a homemade energy bar.

Use sea salt daily. If you have a medical issue please consult with a doctor on how much salt you can add to your meals. Sea salt has several minerals that are often depleted in regular table salt.

Learn how to make healthy smoothies.  These are great for breakfast or for a post workout meal.  Here is a simple yet effective smoothie for a post workout meal. Most store brand smoothies are filled with sugar and low quality protein powders.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 handful of green leafy spinach (washed)
  • ½ cup of frozen raspberries
  • A large handful of ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp. of melted coconut oil (mix this in when the blender is running)

Mix this up for 30 seconds and pour it into a glass. The key is a lot of ice and mix until smooth and creamy.

Eat red meat, chicken, pork and lamb in moderation along with fish (sardines, wild salmon).

Fats (both saturated and monosaturated) are critical to your overall health. My favorite ways to add fat to my diet are the following:

  • Grassfed butter
  • Eggs (cage free)
  • Raw milk (Note, you need to be very careful where you get your raw milk. Only get it from a trusted source.)
  • Macademia nuts as well as other nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Chia seeds

Avoid fat free foods since most of the time they are filled with sugar as well as other processed foods.

Eliminate or greatly reduce soda intake.

Learn to read food labels. Manufactures have several different names for sugar. Learn how to distinguish what is healthy and what may be a poor choice for your body (i.e. high fructose corn syrup should eliminated from your diet)

Take fish oil daily (Omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to have benefits for your heart as well as benefits for your joints).

I would recommend that you seek out the advice from experts and get the highest quality fish oil you can find.

If you want to perform like high level athletes it all starts with your nutrition. The key to your success is to plan ahead and keep things simple. Learn the basics and your body will reap the benefits.

Good luck!

05 September 4:24 pm

Good week, GREAT Saturday.

Short week for all of you, but an extended work week awaited the Union in what will be the second of two matches against Toronto FC on Saturday.

Before taking off, the team assembled for a light training session at PPL Park that involved some intricate passing drills and a hard short-sided scrimmage.

Then it was off to the airport, where the team flight was delayed…momentarily.

But none of that phased a team that took it to Toronto and celebrated a 2-0 at the end of 90 minutes. This coming off the heels of a 1-0 win over TFC Wednesday, which now gives Union interim boss Jim Curtin his 10th win of the season in all competitions (10-2-4). 

Oh and something our resident stats man figured out: with a goal Saturday, the Union would have scored its 200th in MLS play. Thanks to this header from Conor Casey coupled with this textbook header from Andrew Wenger Philadelphia scored not only its 200th, but 201st in League play.

Pretty cool stat and all the more reason to watch. 

While the Union chased back-to-back wins against Toronto in Toronto, the Union front office avenged a loss in the annual River Cup charity match. The fourth edition of a match that pits members of the front office against members of the club’s raucous supporters group, the Sons of Ben was won Saturday by the Union FO in a PK shootout! Kudos to both teams, which helped raise funds for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which directly benefits many programs within the city of Chester. But a special shoutout to Union captain Mark Evans (who is the club's director of fan services, by day) for leading the Union squad in a huge win on what was a sultry September afternoon. 

The festivities were in conjunction with the Delaware River Craft BrewFest presented by Radio (104.5 FM), which was also a great success. Thanks to all that came out for the Brewfest and stayed to watch a great event at PPL Park.

Moving on...

The U.S. Open Cup trophy arrived in Philadelphia last Friday and has embarked on a tour around the Greater Philadelphia region for fans to sneak a peek and get informed about the upcoming final on Sept. 16 between the Union and Seattle Sounders FC. It’s latest stop was the home of cheesesteak czars Pat’s Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia. The trophy has been to a variety of places, like Comcast SportsNet, the Art Museum steps, it also visited the coaching staff at Temple University, is scheduled to hit Friday’s college matchup between Drexel and Penn and earlier this week made a stop at La Salle University. The Explorers’ McCarthy Stadium was the site of the 1961 U.S. Open Cup final won by the Ukranian Nationals, one of their four Cup championships in the 1960s. It also made an appearance on the set of Saturday's Union-Toronto FC telecast alongside play-by-play announce JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas.

Posted Friday, was two pieces of fresh content from our video department, the first featuring Union defender Ethan White "mic’d up" during the club’s win over San Jose:

In addition, yours truly recently did a sit down with soccer historian Dan Morrison to discuss the rich history of the Bethlehem Steel, who captured five U.S. Open Cup titles from 1913-1930.

Found out something interesting from Morrison too: the original Steel jerseys of the past were not black and white, but actually red and blue.

Now given the era, there are no images to support Morrison’s claim, but he did have vintage game day brochures and old magazines that accurately describe the colors of the Steel jersey. Not being biased, but definitely check this video out. I learned way more than I ever thought I would about a team considered at that time the “New York Yankees of professional soccer.”

That video will surface later this week on the Philadelphia Union You Tube page. If you haven't yet, subscribe. There's some great content on there.

Lastly, here’s Saturday's Match Recap, an informative Q&A our resident writer Andy Jasner did with interim manager Jim Curtin and since we want to keep the upcoming U.S. Open Cup fresh in your mind (ahem, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park, purchase tickets),  the guys over at Philly Soccer Page penned this fantastic historic write-up of the dominance the Philadelphia German Americans displayed during its Open Cup winning campaign (1936). PSP editor in chief Ed Farnsworth has the story that’s definitely worth a read.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

26 August 5:01 pm

Day two of a much needed respite from soccer action was underway as all was quiet today on the field. However, the club was still in the news, leading off with MLSSoccer.com boosting the Union up to No. 7 in its latest Power Rankings. Philadelphia is up four spots from No. 11 last week.

The high praise was attributed to the continued stellar play of midfielder Sebastien Le Toux and the balance of attacking power coupled with the emergence of Andrew Wenger – who scored a pair of goals, his first a Goal of the Week candidate – in Sunday’s 4-2 win over San Jose.

Certainly nice to see as noted by MLSSoccer.com Union writer Dave Zeitlin:

Moving on…

With the upcoming Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final just weeks away, the brainstorming was in full effect Tuesday across all departments on how to make sure we blow the top off your socks both leading up to and on the Sept. 16 game night against the Seattle Sounders (7 p.m., purchase tickets). Some great ideas swirled around the main conference room today, many of which you’ll see in the coming weeks ahead. 

What we can tell you is that “We Want the Cup” t-shirts dropped today which you can purchase online from our team store. Enjoy free shipping for these bad boys if you spend $50 or more online. These come in both mens and womens cut and even features a long sleeve. To get yours log onto: http://www.philadelphiaunionstore.com/

Because it was so popular last time, we are looking to have another takeover of our Twitter account by the guys at our team store: @PhilaUnionShop to discuss all the new fall gear that will be available both online and in the team store on game day. There are already some pretty awesome images on their site to check out, so definitely follow the team store on Twitter.

In other news…

If you missed it, here’s an ICYMI on an article featured on philadelphiaunion.com Monday that takes a look at five members of the Union’s current locker room (both players and staff) that have captured Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles.  

On Wednesday, we’ll feature Union interim manager Jim Curtin one of the five on what it was like personally for him to capture the crown.

Construction is in full swing on the Union practice fields that are scheduled to be completed by late fall. By the looks of this Instagram video, grading has commenced and piping has been delivered for install.

Finally, if you didn’t know today was “National Dog Day.” Union defender Austin Berry celebrated his version of man’s best friend by treating him to a cool treat on a hot day.

What’s not to love about dogs? Especially dogs that love soccer as much as we do. Kudos to digital marketing coordinator Jackie Cammarata, who submitted this clip from Facebook today for the Daily #DOOP…

 

 

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

 

25 August 6:04 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

The pair exchanged cryptic tweets featuring sunshine and airplanes, with Edu's ending with "305" the area code for Miami-Dade County.

ESPN analyst and SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos followed up shortly after Edu's tweet with: 

Usually this group also includes defender Ethan White, but no word on what his plans are.

Given the time off, the Union’s weekly radio show “The 90th Minute” will take a hiatus this week but will return Sept. 2. The show presented by Farmers Insurance will feature members of the Sons of Ben and the Union Foundation to discuss the upcoming River Cup match between the Union front office and the club’s supporters group.

That show will be held at Chickies and Pete’s in South Philadelphia beginning from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

And finally…

The fallout of having Sixers center Joel Embiid serve as honorary captain in Sunday’s match has been tremendous. The volume of retweets and favorites from this picture on Twitter is insane:

And it looks like the effect rubbed off on Embiid, who according to this Union fan  was spotted Monday afternoon in the same Union jersey we presented him Sunday night.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

25 August 5:59 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

✈️✈️

25 August 5:57 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

25 August 5:55 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

22 August 3:50 pm

The club was back in training on Friday as preparations for Sunday’s match against San Jose continued – this time with an anticipated face returning to the fray.

New Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi participated in the full hour long session Friday morning at PPL Park, joining Zac MacMath and rookie Andre Blake in a session of instruction with goalkeeper coach BJ Callaghan before integrating with the rest of the club for a series of drills.

When asked how it felt to be back, Mbolhi smiled and told philadelphiaunion.com:

“It’s good to be back, nice to be with my teammates and get going with my new club.”

While yet unknown, given the week he's had it seems unlikely Mbolhi will feature Sunday. On Wednesday, Union manager Jim Curtin told reporters that it was important the two-time FIFA World Cup veteran felt 100 percent both mentally and physically before heading back out on the pitch. Curtin also mentioned before that happened that he would have a “good sit down” with Mbolhi to see where he’s at.

Both Mbolhi and Blake remained to train with Callaghan for close to an hour post practice, so right off the bat it was impressive to see the Algerian eagerly putting in the work.

The team will have a short walk through Saturday to prepare for Sunday. Friday was more of getting the players back out on the pitch after a much needed day of rest Thursday. Also out on the pitch with the players this morning was the inspirational story of eight-year-old super fan Harry Kane Jr. who got a chance not only watch but participate in training exercises this morning.

Harry’s father, Harry Kane Sr. praised the generosity, in awe that Harry was able to hang and get so involved with the "big boys" for a day.

What was also special is that Harry got a chance meet and chat with his favorite player, forward Conor Casey.

“This is something he won’t forget for the rest of his life,” said Kane Sr. “I know my son and this is a memory that will stick with him. Everyone was so great with him and it really speaks to the volume of just how great of an organization this is.”

Mr. Kane, on behalf of all of us here at the Philadelphia Union, it was our pleasure…

Moving on…

If you missed it, defender Ray Gaddis had a one-hour “ask me anything” session Friday afternoon on Reddit. Ray was asked a variety of questions, all of which he graciously answered. To check out the full transcript of Gaddis’ AMA, click this link.  

And if you wondered whether or not Gaddis had fun with it, just look at that smile...

Odds and endlines…

Season ticket holders, you have until Sunday to order your tickets to the Sept. 16 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final if you would like to sit in your seats. If you have additional questions, contact our Fan Services department at 877-21-UNION, press (1) for tickets followed by (3) for Fan Services. You can do the same if you have any questions pertaining to the revised parking setup for Lots B and C, with the ongoing construction of what will be a multi-field practice facility for the club...Be sure to check out the Match Preview and Match Preview video ahead of Sunday’s match with San Jose...Still have yet to reserve your seat to see FIFA World Cup (2014) veteran Chris Wondolowski get after FIFA World Cup (2010) veteran Maurice Edu? One click right here will solve that problem.  

And finally…

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has been going on for a while now to the tune of over $41 million dollars in charitable donations raised to the cause. Last week, the Union front office did it and on Friday, Union technical director Chris Albright was next up to get dunked on...with the help of players Andrew Wenger and Carlos Valdes, who were eager to have the chance to dump mostly crushed ice on the former MLS and U.S. national team stalwart.

A birdie tells us that Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz is up next...Check Monday's Daily #DOOP for that one including reactions and much more from Sunday’s match.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

21 August 11:31 am

“I don’t have a gym membership...”

“My gym doesn’t have kettlebells...”

“I can’t do a pull-up, I am so weak...”

“I do 200 crunches a night but I don’t have any abs...” (FYI, stop wasting your time with crunches)

“I don’t want to lock into a six month membership so I am not going to lift weights...”

Over the years, I have heard so many excuses from people when it comes to training. I understand exactly how hard it can be to find both the TIME and the MONEY to train. I have good news for those of you who want to maybe learn some new exercises without having to join a gym.

My solution to those of you who are on a budget and who are unable to afford a gym membership is to train outside at a park.

Here are five (5) reasons I love to train outside.

1. It’s free.

2. Most people don’t get enough sun so training outside is a great way to increase your Vitamin D levels.  Believe it or not, most people are deficient in Vitamin D.

3. It’s fun. It makes you feel like a kid again.

4. Fresh air. How many times have you gone into a gym and the first thing you smell is something nasty coming off of the person on the elliptical? It looks like they have been on it for 2 hours cranking away with sweat pouring down their face. Don’t get me wrong I love to train hard and work up a sweat but if you have ever belonged to a gym you know exactly what I am talking about.

5. I sleep better at night. If I get fresh air and sunlight early in the day it helps with my sleep cycle.

Now, I still love to train at a gym 1-2 days a week but I think training outside is a great way to mix up your routine. The good news is what I am about to show you involves a small investment on your part. I have included five videos for you to watch. In each video I show a short clip of four exercises that you can include in your routine. The good news is that all you need is the following:

Kettlebells

I would recommend that you go to a fitness equipment store or go online and purchase a kettlebell. Your best bet is to find a local store so you can save on shipping. However, the equipment from Perform Better (performbetter.com) is high quality. I would recommend that you start with two kettlebells. One light one (15-20 lbs.)  and one heavier one (40-60 lbs.). Over time if you can afford it add higher weights to your “at home gym”.

Resistance bands

Here is a link to buy bands. Bands should be a part of everyone’s training program.  I have been using these bands for years. Link: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/

Abdominal wheel

I made my own for $15-$20 from Home Depot material. You can purchase a good one on line or at a local sporting goods store. Cost is approximately $15-$20.

Click the video below to watch a demonstration as well as some cues for doing each exercise. As always, start slow and if you have any pain than you need to stop. For the Turkish Get Up I would recommend that you start with body weight and keep the reps low. Finally, when it comes to kettlebells it’s worth it for you to work with a person who is certified in how to use kettlebells properly.

Here is a sample circuit that you can implement into your workouts.

Warm up (Always warm up properly before training)

A1) Kettlebell deadlift: four (4) sets of six (6) reps

A2) Band pull-ups: four (4) sets of AMGRAP (as many good reps as possible)

A3) Ab wheel rollout: 4 sets of 8 reps

Note: In the video I go very close to the ground. Beginners only need to go half way down. If you have ANY back pain or hip pain in this movement stop right away.

A4) Turkish get up: 4 sets of 3 reps per side.

Cool down

I hope you enjoyed the videos and make it a priority to get outside and do some training.

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health