Protein Powders: How do I buy a safe product? Which one is best?

When choosing a protein powder the choice can be quite difficult.  You see the list of ingredients and get overwhelmed. did the work for you.  They did a comprehensive study of over 675 products and 111 different brands while getting the advice of dietitians and fitness experts.  They considered the concerns of artificial sweeteners, illegal substances and food colorings.

And the winners are:  Click here and find out.


The sports nutrition industry has a history littered with lawsuits, misleading product labels, and hyperbolized products, especially when it comes to protein powder – which is a multi-billion dollar industry. Outrageous branding campaigns have been convincing people they need extra protein to build muscle since the ‘70s, and that perception is still going strong. Sales are up, spiked proteins are rampant, and the war for the best-tasting whey isolate continues.

We spent 180 hours researching the industry to discover what the frenzy was all about. During that time we built a list of 697 different flavors of protein powder, consulted with nationally renowned fitness and health experts, and investigated the nutritional pros and cons of 191 artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and illegal substances.  Continue Reading

Artificial ingredients are useless and can lower your overall health

The general consensus among online fitness and nutrition communities is that the artificial sweeteners and colorings used in protein powders are bad for you. We took our research a step further and asked over 4,000 registered dietitians for their opinions on the matter. Their response was unanimous (and much stronger): If possible, artificial sugars and colorings should be completely avoided. Not only are they unnecessary; they’re potentially dangerous. Continue Reading

Working with a Trainer made a difference

karlbarton5My name is Tracy Roth and I have a success story that I would like to share.  I have been working with Karl Barton for about two months.  In these past two months I have seen drastic changes in my over all mental and physical health.  Words alone cannot express how much Karl has done for me.  I have to say it took me a while to find the right fit.  I have had many experiences with trainers and none have been a success for me.  The first day I started working with Karl I knew it was the right.  What was immediately evident was that Karl really cares about his clients.  It is so easy to feel his passion. Some days I just don’t feel like coming to the gym, but Karl inspires me so much, I don’t want to miss.  Even if I am having a bad day it pays to be coached by him because I know when my workout is done I will feel great.    No matter where you are in your journey you will see results.  Maintaining has been difficult for me. Without Karl’s help it could not have been done.  Karl takes the time to listen to me. He will go above and beyond to listen and he cares what you have to say.  There have even been days where I have felt down and he has taken time out of his day to listen.

In working with Karl I have gained confidence in myself, which never has happened.  I would always tell Karl I can’t do this exercise but he got me to do it.  It has really helped me mentally as well as physically. Every time I leave Pinnacle I feel great about myself.


In two short months I have been able to do boot camps and INSANITY classes, which I was never able to do. I asked Karl to come up with things that he has noticed about my improvement. This is what he had to say:  “Endurance and upper body strength has increased. Your jumping ability both long and standing jumps has really improved. You are now willing to try new things like hand eye coordination and ladder jumps for stability and stamina.”  Without Karl’s help maintaining my weight would not happen.  I have always struggled with weight issues.


He even keeps me dedicated to my workouts when we are not training together.

The staff at Pinnacle is awesome.

Thank you Karl for all your support and help.  I would not be where I am in life if it wasn’t for you.

Water Training – Jump In to Better Fitness

Want to build speed and strength without putting excess stress on your joints? Then take your workouts, especially plyometrics(jumping) to the pool. Exercising in water is extremely effective because of increased multidirectional resistance that builds as you move through the water.

Plyometrics is aimed at making muscles work better and more efficiently rather than making them bigger. It burns lots of calories and increases metabolism too. Doing them in water reduces risk of injury. We do these regularly in Aqua Boot Camp.


Sample Exercise 1: Stand in water just under chest deep with feet should width apart. Tuck both knees to chest without propelling yourself upward. Immediately push your legs back down to touch the bottom of the pool. When the balls of your feet touch the bottom, immediately tuck your knees again.   Do about 40.

Sample Exercise 2: Stand in water just under chest deep with feet about double shoulder width apart. Jump upward while keeping your legs straight but sealing them together. On the lowering phase bring your legs wide and land.   Repeat immediately as soon as the balls of your feet touch the pool bottom. Do about 40.

As a certified personal trainer and one of eleven Master Trainers for the AQx Sports system I am always looking and educating myself for new ways to improve the fitness of the average exerciser, inspiring athlete, fitness newbie or someone recovering from surgery. As director of the Aquatics department I would love to help you or find someone that can. Contact me: or check out our Aquatics Page or my personal page.

Bikes and Beers Race Report Great Dane Velo Criterium

Coming into my bike race this past Sunday I had no real expectations other than to do really well. The question I had in my mind was what was really well? A good placing? Good fast legs? Staying out of trouble? Well if that was “really well” then not only did I do really well but my whole Flying Bobcats team did “really well” also!

My bike race was 35 minutes of criterium racing at its best, fast and hard. The first three laps I found myself following a real strong rider from the Trek team. The guy set a real hard fast tempo that had the field of 40 strung out in a long thin line.  After that three laps of pain I settled into about 20th place and just kept in touch with the lead guys and marking my spot in the pack. Twice during the next few laps my teammates raised the pace to where it would get all strung out but no break ever developed from their hard work. With 5 laps to go I started my customary move to the front. I like to position myself about 5th, 6th or 7th place to ready for the big acceleration that comes with the sprint finish. I wasn’t so lucky in getting that place as it seems that 15 other guys had the same Idea as me. On the bell lap (Last lap) I moved up to about 15th and that is where I would stay until we swung into the final corner at 25mph. No braking, no moving, no letting people in, I just went for the line with 300 meters to go. Moved to the inside of the lane put your head down and go as fast and as hard as you can up the little hill incline!  I found that I could move up really fast and it was so easy to go fast! 4th place is what I got when I crossed the line! I was still accelerating when I hit the line.

matt april 14 

I was pleased to find the new leg strength that I had been working on this past winter. I guess if you work hard it does pay off.  I celebrated the 4th place finish with nice cool Mad Town Nut brown ale, always a fitting end to a hard day of bike racing. I do have another bike race coming up this Sunday and hopefully I can find myself on the podium (1st, 2nd and 3rd make up a podium).

I was not the only Flying Bobcat racing this past weekend. Here is how my teammates faired

Flying Bobcats bike racing results from this weekend. If I missed you I am very sorry.

Great Dane Velo Criterium                                       Spring Super Criterium Burnham Ill
Masters Category 4 and 5                                         Masters Category 4 and 5
4th Matthew Hanson                                                  45th Tim Skinner 45th
10th Matthew Wurz
12th Dan Vander Weide                                             Mens Cat 4 and 5
17th Dan Valenza                                                        28th Mathew Wurz
19th Dean Lazenby
27th Tim Skinner                                                        

Masters Cat 3 and 4                                                   Masters Cat 1,2,3 Open
9th Dan Vander Weide                                               44th Anderson Bortoletto
31st Tim Skinner

Mens Cat 5                                                                 Mens Open Cat.  1,2,3
7th Matthew Wurz                                                      47th Anderson Bortoletto        
14th Tyler Byrnes

Mens Cat 4
8th Dean Lazenby
10th Dan Vander Weide
13th Dan Valenza
15th Tim Skinner

Masters cat 1-2-3
15th Anderson Bortoletto


Bikes and Beers 2014: Tying Up Loose Ends for Spring

You can tell that people are getting the itch to start riding outside when the bike shop in my basement is full of bikes in need of FAST tune-ups. I have three bikes down there that need to get done before it gets warm. They need a tune-up, a rebuild, and a tweak to get them ready for spring. Cleaned up the DeRosa and the Amsterdam 3 speed special that I ride on Fridays and the shop will be closed for summer except for emergencies.  The DeRosa just received new chain rings, new chain, and new cassettes this year. I like to change out the drive train every 4000 to 5000 miles. Things just wear out. She should be real fast this year.  

I also pulled out my cycling bag the other day.  I live out of a nylon bag for the summer when I race. Started to pack all of the cycling clothing and gear you could ever want or need. Shoes, socks, helmets, arm warmers and leg warmers, vests of differing temperature ranges, gloves to match, foot coverings, three to four pairs of shorts and matching tops, tubes, tyres, (that is the Italian spelling way), an allen wrench set, and safety pins. That should outfit me for all of the racing I will be doing this year.


With one day of outside training I am now ready for the first race of the year this Sunday at 12:55 PM. Sounds like I am going to have about 6 other teammates to help me out. If we can’t get a breakaway started and keep it away then we are doing something wrong. With 7 guys, come on! It is a simple strategy you send a guy up the road and let the others chase. Once he gets caught you send another and you just keep doing it until they all get tired out and the break “Sticks”. I sure hope I get in the winning move this time.

Stay tuned for the first racing report of the year next week and get out and ride your bikes!


The Foam Roller: Your New Best Friend!

The Foam Roller has many uses, but perhaps the most impressive is its ability to prevent injury and increase flexibility in those who suffer from tight or fatigued muscles. As a long-time fitness instructor who teaches more than several classes per week and enjoys running and strength training on her own time, I have found the foam roller to be an invaluable piece of equipment.    Like traditional stretching, the Foam Roller elongates muscles, but it does so by intensely “massaging” the muscles.  The massaging breaks up adhesions in your fascia (the tissue that surrounds your muscles), therefore increasing blood flow to tight areas, limiting soreness and increasing flexibility.

foam roller1foam calf

There are several different types of Foam Rollers available.  Each roller affects the muscles in a similar manner; however, the denser the roller or the deeper the ridges on the roller, the more intense the stretch will be.  If you are new to Foam Rolling, use a softer-based roller, so that you can roll over muscles without causing too much discomfort.  Once you have been rolling for a while, you can switch to a firmer roller.  The more the foam roller is used, the less discomfort you will experience.  When used correctly, the Foam Roller may be used on all parts of the body.

The Foam Roller should never be used as a means of rehabbing torn or injured muscles, but rather as a way of preventing tight muscles from injury.  Furthermore, it should not be used as a replacement for proper stretching, warm up or cool-down.  The best time to use a Foam Roller is after your workout during cool-down / stretch.   Adding in some Foam Roller time for period of 3-5 minutes (or more, if you exercise intensely) is recommended.   My favorite time to use a Foam Roller is after a long run or when my muscles are simply in need of a little extra TLC – in which case, I will roll at home at night while reading or watching TV, often for up to an hour.

                                                          foam quads

When used consistently and correctly, the Foam Roller can aid in muscle recovery, injury prevention and increased flexibility.  I would love to show you more about this amazing piece of equipment and anything else you would like to learn about!  Email me at  or read more about me on my web page. I would love to see you for a free one-on-one consultation.





Bike and Beers #3

March 27, 2014 was my last day of training indoors.  Time to put the Fluid Trainer away, and hit the asphalt of Dane county for the rest of the cycling season. I always look forward to the first outdoor rides of the year. I get to check on my riding form and see if all the hard work done indoors pays off in performance on the road.

Riding outside is a lot different than indoors, wind, hills and surface of the road are constantly changing which makes training in the elements a fun little factor to play with as a rider. My early season rides usually consist of using my small chain ring to work on my spin and leg speed. My cadence is 87 RPM so I am constantly checking on that.  If I get 30-40 miles in for a ride 3-4 times per week over the next two to three weeks I should be ready for racing.

 matt blog3

April 6th is my first race of the year for 2014. The race is 35 minute criterium at Research Park here in Madison. My race is at 12:55 PM and I hope that a few of my fellow Bobcats will come out for the race.  Crits are lapped races and usually start fast and stay fast for the 30+ minutes that they last. They are also good races for spectators to watch because I come riding by every few minutes without the spectators ever moving from where they are siting.

When I race I am constantly trying to hold my position at the front of the field and keep an eye on my competitors. I like to ride 3-4 riders behind the front rider so I get the draft of the riders in front of me and I am able to mark any attacks off the front and possibly get into a break away. The crits that I race usually come down to a sprint finish and over the years I have become quite good at sprinting.

I like racing bicycles and after 30+ years, I think of it as just a part of me. Over those 30 years I had many teammates so I always look forward to the first race of the year and seeing the new racers. I sure hope my blogs become more entertaining with stories of success on the racing circuit this year. Winter training and lifting weights, while fun, do not make for good story telling.

Last year was a great year for the team and me so I am hoping for more success this year. Next week I will be able to give you a full report from the world of training outside on the road. My Regular racing bike, De Rosa Dual HF, is still getting tuned up for the year so if you see me out there I will be riding the Trek training bike.

Bikes and Beers: Stories from the 2014 Season

Bikes and Beers My 2014 season

Well this is my first attempt at a weekly blog as I traverse through a typical Matt Hanson road bike racing season. At Pinnacle Fitchburg I am the Fitness Director but I am also the owner and racer of the Flying Bobcats Cycling Team these past many years, I have put a few miles on a bike. This will be my 34th year of racing and my first as a story teller of how that season progresses. I hope to share my thoughts, tips, strategies, and plenty of training and racing stories over the coming weeks and months 

                                                             Matt Hanson

January through March you can find me on a fluid trainer, lifting weights, or teaching my High Performance  Spinning (HPS) training class. Winter training is not much fun if you ride because I spend hours upon hours just staring at the floor while pedaling away to music. I work on my spin with single leg spinning routines, constantly work on my relaxed position on the bike or look at my feet to make sure that I am spinning them in the correct position to get the most out of my abilities. As riders go, I am good but will never race as a pro; I just don’t have the time or the gene pool. I do try and get the most out of my abilities and that seems to fit me just fine.

My weekly workout routine goes something like this:
            Sunday             ride on a trainer for an hour then lift weights for an hour
            Monday           off
            Tuesday           ride in HPS for an hour and a half
            Wednesday     off
            Thursday         lift weights for an hour and ride HPS for an hour and a half
            Friday              off
            Saturday          ride on the trainer for an hour and a half or longer

So stay tuned for more stories about the cycling journey 2014. To learn more about me, my cycling team, how to train to cycle, or just personal train with a fun guy contact or read my bio.

Free Drugs

“Free Drugs!”
Ahem, now that I’ve got your attention …

We are in the middle of what is proving to be a long, tough and COLD winter It’s feeling like it’s going to last FOREVER.  We’ve done all we can to embrace it, but it’s getting old.  Are you feeling a bit down? Slightly depressed? Crabby? Unmotivated?  Well, I’ve got the drug (actually a chemical) just for you!  It’s FREE! And it’s already in your body!

So, what is it? 

Endorphins.  Yes, we’ve all heard of them. But what are they?  Endorphins are chemicals released in your body that, when locked into certain receptor sites, block the transmission of pain creating a euphoric feeling.  Endorphins act much like opiates.  There are over 20 different kinds of endorphins, one type being beta-endorphins shown to be stronger than morphine.  And, I want to stress once again, this is already produced and manufactured in YOUR OWN BODY! Wow!

So, how do I get me some of those endorphins?  There are several ways to aid your body in releasing this wonder drug/chemical.  Let me outline a few:

1.  Food – Hot or spicy foods create a burning or painful sensation, in which the body reacts by releasing endorphins, causing the pain to be offset by a euphoric feeling.  Sounds strange, but this may explain why spicy foods are so popular and addicting.

Image:Release Endorphins Step 5.jpg

2. Chocolate – No one has to tell me twice that it’s ok to eat chocolate.  Dark chocolate contains chemicals that promote the release of endorphins, promoting a sense of calm or well-being.  One or two small squares per week should suffice, so don’t go overboard. 

Image:Release Endorphins Step 3.jpg

3.  Sex – Yes, I said it.  Often given a low priority, sex is one of nature’s most de-stressing activities around.  It releases endorphins, and also burns calories.  Bonus!

4. Laughter – How awesome do you feel after a good belly laugh?  While laughter also helps reduce blood pressure and stress hormones, it also triggers the release of endorphins. 

 And finally ….

5. EXERCISE! – It’s no secret that physical activity stimulates endorphin production as well.  After working in the fitness industry for over 22 years, I see this played-out first hand every day.  Whether it’s taking a group exercise with friends, keeping the heart healthy on the cardio machines, increasing strength through weight training, or jumping in to the pool for an invigorating swim, I’m witness to endorphins being released everywhere, every day.  There is a direct link between happiness and exercise.  Whatever your workout, you will feel happier and healthier after a doing it.

So take time for yourself this winter and stay healthy and happy. I promise this cold winter will eventually end and Spring will arrive. But in the meantime, think ENDORPHINS, and release what nature has already provided you, from right within your very own body. Contact me for questions or to start an endorphin loaded exercise plan today.




MAKE IT COUNT! By: Christi Otto

Everyday you wake up challenge yourself! List three goals you want to accomplish. These should be challenges you can achieve every day. For example: eat less sugar, take the stairs, and increase water intake. Do them!

Tape this to your steering wheel and on your bathroom mirror. You will see them every day. Every week or two make new challenges. Every week or two make new challenges. If you want to take on a weight loss challenge, discover the Thinner Winner at Pinnacle.

You need to be committed! A lot of fitness articles say you can achieve weight loss in 14 to 20 days. It takes more than that. Live in reality and you will not disappoint yourself! It is about inches on your waist, more energy, better sleep, more productivity, etc. Make conscious choices. Only you can change it. You are in control of your life, your health, your destiny. 


For the average person it takes over 60 days to develop a habit. When you are working out and eating better you are developing new habits. According to UCL News it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. The 21 day myth originally applied to plastic surgery patients.

Following plastic surgery it takes about 21 days for the average patient to get used to his new face. When an arm or leg is amputated the “phantom limb” persists for about 21 days”.

On that thought, have you ever logged your foods for 70 days in a row? Have you ever exercised for 70 days in a row? Get up and move!  If you did this, how much closer would you be to your ultimate goal?

I have challenged all of my clients to this. Let me tell you, it was not easy. It is hard. There were many days that quitting seemed easier. Last week I got an e-mail from one client saying: “This is too hard. I don’t think I will be able to lose the weight.” I e-mailed her back telling her she needs to make that effort today! I also sent her a motivational video and several short articles to keep her going. That is what it is all about! It is a constant battle. You need to learn how to combat your battles. SHE DID IT! Sometimes you just need a push. She lost 32lbs in the last four months and she is very proud of her success!

Success happens little by little, day after day. Another client got his wife in on it too. They have changed as a unit. They are closer and enjoy walking and cooking dinner together. It is no longer just about the weight. It is about the bond, the sharing, and the experience. Are you ready to be pushed for a 70 day challenge? Start new habits? Contact me: Christi Otto;

Your goals need to be on the front burner. Start now! It is going to take time. At times it is going to be hard to maintain. I know it can sometimes be embarrassing to be vulnerable but do it and you will amaze yourself.