Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gym Intimidation - A Good Lesson

Sports bras, short shorts, loud music, seemingly ‘fit’ people everywhere; all occupied with a focused and intense mission.

As often as I frequent the gym, it is always refreshing to get a ‘non-gym-fanatic’ point of view – the other day was a classic example that made me take a step back and realize, not everyone thinks of the gym the way I do (as a natural part of life), so I thought it may be interesting and mildly entertaining to share this with all of you gym junkies and gym-haters alike.

It was mid-Saturday morning – peak time at my local health club, every machine in use, every class filled, music blasting, over-animated instructors and trainers yelling motivational direction at their subjects and all the regulars clad in his/her best workout gear of the week. Now usually I’d be in my element running, cycling or swimming, but I happened to be struggling with a naggy head cold and after days of rest I decided to try and test some easy cardio. I chose to jump on the ‘arc trainer’, which is an interesting breed of the elliptical machine. Within not three minutes I was bored to tears (not yet strong enough to do a dynamic workout ;), so I began observing people around me….

Immediately I was intrigued by the man ‘arcing’ on the machine next to me: no headphones, no book, no distraction, just a big man working very hard; clearly this was not his idea of an enjoyable morning. I decided to strike a conversation and to my delight we hit it off beautifully carrying on an insightful and thoroughly interesting conversation. Amazing what can happen when we unplug and interact with other humans.

In about 20 minutes of elliptical time, I got to know this man very well – he opened up about his own weight loss journey and gave me insight into his feelings on exercise and gyms. I often forget how most people view this subject. While there is the minority of the world (i.e. me), that love to workout, to experience physical pain and discomfort and to be in the midst of others all doing the same thing, the majority of the world gets anxiety just thinking about it. Most people would prefer to avoid the pain and sweat they must endure to get that perfect ‘beach body’, not to mention the whole psyche associated with the gym: “what to wear?? Am I not doing as much as the guy next to me? Everyone is probably staring at me. I look horrible working out. I sweat too much. I’m not sure what to do with myself when I’m there. Is there proper gym etiquette???” These, and many more, are all common thoughts that most people encounter.

Well, Thomas (this is what we will call my new friend), candidly talked about the struggles of being out of shape and uncomfortable with the whole gym setting, “ It’s never been my thing, no matter how much I try, I just don’t get the endorphin high everyone talks about after a workout. In fact, I feel like I just endured torture and need a nap!”

At this I laughed, Thomas had a humorous but very real perspective on this topic. And this lack of exercise motivation is hardly a failure - Clearly, Thomas’ passion lay somewhere else. And through probing I slowly learned that Thomas happened to be one of the best in the world in his particular ‘passion’ (humble man), but as he said, fitness just wasn’t his ‘thing’. But I came to greatly admire and respect Thomas that day, because no matter how hard it was for him, he never used his dislike for it as an excuse. He knew he needed to get healthy and fit for his quality of life and asserted that it would help improve his life is so many ways.

So, as tough as it has been, Thomas has been coming religiously to the gym and putting in the hours of hard work to achieve his new healthy lifestyle goals (and already 60lbs lost!). As intimidating as it was in the beginning, he did it – overcame the feelings of embarrassment, pain and struggle AND although he still doesn’t find it enjoyable, it is no longer something he dreads. I am confident that Thomas will soon feel that ‘great endorphin high everyone is always talking about’. It WILL come, the key is consistency, hard work and dedication.

Thomas was a breath of fresh air to me and someone I truly admire. It is a lot harder to do something that ‘isn’t your thing’ or that you don’t enjoy. I can only imagine if I had to learn to play an instrument that I didn’t like and wasn’t good at it, but was vital to my quality of life. It’s important to take a step in another person’s shoes sometimes.

AND for all the Thomas’ out there, don’t worry about what people are thinking of you, the truth is, most people are too consumed with themselves to notice what you’re doing at the gym!



Friday, January 22, 2010


Now that you’ve read my previous post you are all familiar and even excited (??) about changing up your workout with something new, dynamic and highly effective.

So for those of you wanting to squeeze MAXIMUM RESULTS out of your workout – print this out and give it a try.

The bonus is that you don’t need a fancy gym, this can be done outside, at home or while traveling. A set of weights will be helpful, but you can always improvise with canned food or milk jugs J I like the gym, 

because there is lots of space and I have everything at my fingertips, but that’s not always feasible.

Due to the intensity of this type of training, I recommend having a good cardio and strength base. If you are a beginner, I advise working out consistently for at least 2 months before trying this.

 A couple more guidelines:

·       -Start with very short intervals (10-30 seconds) and work up

·       -Start Slowly

·       -Always take a day of recovery following a hard plyometric workout (meaning a longer cardio recovery day or brisk walk/jog

And FINALLY - If you are really trying to achieve fast weight loss results, I suggest doing this workout twice per week (but not back to back days), and filling in the other 3 or 4 days with different types of cardio and strength training


Warm Up - 15 minutes of cardio (bike, run, elliptical or any cardio machine of your choice)


Running Arms -80 seconds (with dumbells from 7.5 to 15 lbs) - I use 12.5 lbs but have been doing them for years.

See post for instruction:


Vertical Box Jumps - 1 min: Just as the title indicates – get a sturdy box, bench or step and jump straight up to land feet firmly planted on the box. Hop or step back down and repeat consecutively as many jumps as you can do in a minute.


Tricep Dips (use bench or chair) - 1 min: Place palms on the edge of a box, bench or chair with your body facing forward and use your triceps to lower down and press back up.

Side-to-Side Lateral Jump - 1 min: Begin by placing a small object (such as a piece of tape) on the floor. Stand on one side of the object and bend your knees into a slight squat.

In an explosive   movement, jump over the object, landing with knees bent into a squat. Continue jumping from side to side for 10 seconds to one minute.


As you gain practice, you can use larger objects (such as a small box or a step). If you something large, you can ease into it by standing sideways to the step, jump on top of the step and then step down on the other side. Be VERY careful to use objects that won't slide if you land on them! Start with an object you can easily clear when you jump


Arm Circuit with light to moderate dumbells

 --30 seconds of arm pulls: dumbells in front of turso and pull up to your chest

 -- 30 seconds: hold dumbells on each side of body and pull them both up to chest

 -- 30 seconds: shoulder press with dumbell (reach weights over head

    and press up until arms are fully extended

 --30 seconds-- dumbell squat - bend into squat position, touch

    weights to floor and press up into full stand and reach weight over head into a shoulder    press

 Plyo Lunges - 1 min: Stand in a split stance, right leg in front and left leg in back. Bend knees into a lunge (keeping front knee behind toe) and, in an

explosive movement, jump up, switch legs in the air and land in a

lunge with the left foot forward. Go as slow as you need to, to keep

your balance. Go faster, jump higher and/or lunge lower for more of a



Abs -

Scissor Kicks- 45 sec: lay flat on back and with legs and arms

straight, touch left hand to right foot and then right hand to left

foot and repeat (similar to bicycles but keeping arms and legs straight

so more challenging)


Leg Raises - 1 min: lay flat on back, legs out straight, keep back

pressed to floor and lift feet off the ground (no more then one ft in

the air) and pulse up and down


Burpees - 1 min: Jump straight up vertically with your arms reaching for the sky, then immediately jump down and shoot your legs back to push-up position and back in to squat. Repeat this by jumping straight up vertically again. It is like a vertical jump followed by pushup position (except you jump your legs back when your hands hit the ground).

This one is a maximum calorie burning move and really spikes that heart-rate.


ENJOY and Have FUN!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bored with your Workout? Need a Workout Facelift? Want to Step it Up?? …..

Whether you are a seasoned fitness guru or trying to take off some extra pounds and tone up, you are probably ready for a new workout. How about one that will get you fast results and beat the boredom?

Add into the equation the fact that spring and summer are quickly approaching – don’t let this give you anxiety. Now is just in time to start pursuing that highly regarded ‘beach body’. Your question may be ‘how?’, or ‘I’ve tried everything’, or I already know what to do’, or a million other doubts, I know I usually respond to articles like this skeptically too. However, I have found this to truly work, so read further and then decide…

People often think that if they just diet and get to the gym the rest will follow, and for some it does. So if you have the ‘perfect physique’ and wouldn’t change a thing, you can save yourself the time of reading this. But for the rest of us, I believe it is what we are doing at the gym or in our workouts that makes the difference (not discounting diet of course). But food alone won’t give you washboard abs or perfectly toned legs and arms.

I’m sure if you know my blog, you already understand the concept of changing up your cardio workouts and trying different intensities and activities, right? And that is great – but as I have discussed before – if you really want to challenge yourself and break through any fitness or weight loss plateau try a plyometric workout!!

Not only will this increase your endurance, speed and stamina, it will burn more calories and fat in a shorter amount of time than almost any other form of exercise. For example: 1 min of plyometrics is equivalent to approximately 15 minutes of steady cardio. So prepare to get lean and strong – and put more work into less time!

Plyometric Training

I know I spoke about plyometric training in one of my ‘first-ever’ blog postings, but I thought it important to expand on it. Why? Because, honestly, I get so many questions from people of all types and fitness levels about how to squeeze in ‘great workouts’ into busy and chaotic schedules. People want workouts they can take with them when they travel, do in their homes, gyms, outside. But most of all, they want to know what will really help them breakthrough to the next level and alleviate the boredom.

So upon answering these questions, one of the first things that comes to mind is Plyometrics! Plyometric training has long been a staple of athletes who need to work on their explosive strength. Plyocity defines it as "exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. This speed-strength ability is known as power."

With athletes, plyometric training involves intense exercises specifically designed for their particular sports such as jumping off a platform and rebounding off the floor onto a higher platform (hence I did a lot of this in my competitive running days and became addicted).

While most of us don’t need exercises to this level of extremity, we can all benefit from the effects of a workout that incorporates this. I believe that if you are going to spend the time out of your day to exercise, you want to maximize your time and get the most out of it - and for most people that means visible results.

One benefit (and probably my favorite part) of plyometric workouts is that, due to the intensity, everything is done in short segments. You would never spend a full hour on plyometrics alone. You can get an excellent workout in a fraction of the time, (ha, I sound like I’m trying to sell something).

I’m not going to lie, plyometrics are hard, VERY hard, but nothing truly great was ever achieved without pure hard work. My philosophy is that if you’re willing to put the work in, you might as well do it right. Hopefully in six months from now, people will be asking you, ‘What’s your secret?’ (and hopefully you’ll refer them here ;)
If this isn’t enough to convince you, I hope you test it yourself and let me know.
I will be posting a good plyometric workout example you can do this week (so stay tuned)!

Happy Exercising!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Top 5 BUTT, HIPS and THIGH Exercises

Ahhh the butt, doesn’t everyone long to have that ‘perfect behind’? Are you happy with your butt? Most of us aren't. We think they’re too big, too small, too giggly, too saggy...and on and on. However, your ‘imperfect butt’ is not something you have to settle on, there are many simple things you can do to improve your backside and help you achieve buns of steel.
While cardio and diet are the keys to dropping excess weight and toning everything up, there are many exercises you can do to specifically address your hips, butt and thighs. In this article I have selected the Top Five Exercises that really work!


Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your hips, butt and thighs. There are many different types of squats; from standing squats to dumbbell squats to wall squats with a ball, it is really a matter of personal preference and resources.
I recommend starting with a basic squat (this is something you can do anywhere):
Stand with feet hip-width apart and squat, keeping back straight, abs in and knees behind your toes. Let your butt lightly touch a chair and squeeze butt to stand up.
Hold each squat for 5 seconds and repeat 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Add weights for more intensity.

Lunges are a great exercise because they work so many muscles at the same time. On the front leg, you'll work your glutes and hamstrings and, on the back leg, you'll work your quads and calves. What's nice about lunges is that there are different options to choose from.
Reverse lunges
Front lunges
Walking lunges
Side-to-Side Lunges
Wheel lunges (front, side, reverse)
You can also elevate the back foot on a step or platform to really challenge both legs. This is a great move for the glutes and thighs.
At home, I recommend walking lunges:
To begin a walking lunge stand upright (add weights in your hands for more intensity). Now take a lunge forward while never letting your knee go 'over' your toe. Once at the bottom of the lunge (leg bent at 90 degree angle), push off with the back foot and then approach the standing position. Repeat with the other leg. Make sure to breath out on the way up and breathe in on the actual lunge.

Step ups are my personal favorite – as I have found them to dramatically improve my running strength, speed and magically tone up the butt and thighs.
For step ups, you simply step one foot onto a platform (such as a bench or step) and drive the other leg straight up so that it forms a 90 degree angle.
The other key to making this move work is to put all your weight on the stepping leg. In other words, lower down gently, barely touching the toes of the other leg to the ground. You'll really feel this when you take it slow and concentrate on the working leg.


I like squats, lunges and step-ups because they work multiple muscle groups at once, however, the hip extension is one of the best exercises for targeting the butt and lower back.

For this move, lay on your side, holding abs tight and lift the top leg up and slightly back, leading with your heel (toe pointed down). Lift very slowly and hold at the top for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 6-10 times for 2-3 sets. Your butt should be burning by the 2nd or 3rd set (I know mine does)!


Deadlifts are very effective for your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, but form is crucial – skip this exercise if you have any back problems!

To begin, take the one leg back a little bit, lightly resting on the toe. With weights in front of the thighs, tip from the hips and lower the weights as low as your flexibility allows. Keep your back flat and focus on keeping your abs contracted to protect the back. Squeeze the glutes of the working leg to raise back up. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

By practicing this series 2 times a week, you can expect to see some effective results – no fancy gym or personal trainer needed.


Friday, January 8, 2010

My Body, My Biography

Warning this is a Longer Read – but I think it’s worth out, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

‘My Body, My Biography’ – this is the title of the Equinox Fitness 2010 campaign, which launched January 1 of this year. I was honored to be chosen as a member of this project. The experiences I had and the people I met along the way were inspirational and life changing for me, after much internal debate about exposing this to you on my blog, I decided that if I was that motivated and uplifted by the experience it may prove to do the same for you. If nothing else, it’s an interesting story (at least I think so).

If it isn’t yet obvious, I’m a fitness nut, not only am I passionate about exercise and training but I thoroughly love talking to other people about their experience and helping them get motivated and step up their fitness and lives to the next level.

In line with my career aspirations in this ‘fitness industry’ (and to help me pay for my MBA while living in Manhattan) I have been doing fitness modeling since March of 2009 and in my short career I have seen a lot and met a lot of ‘fit looking’ people, but it never fails to amaze me how many of them are NOT actually fit, nor are they even healthy. Yes even in fitness modeling!

There is a lot of pressure to look ‘thin and toned’, but a substantial percentage of the men and women who grace the pages of the magazines we read, may do everything but hit the gym to look the way they do.

Lesson #1: Being skinny does not equal being fit! Why do I bring this up? Because the Equinox Fitness shoot was unlike any other modeling experience I have ever had. Why? They wanted their models to be more than just ‘bodies’, they wanted to get to know them as people and hear their story. In fact, the models were chosen not only for appearance but for their personal life story and the potential impact it could have on others by sharing it. Above all, they wanted to hear about how getting fit and staying fit was a part of their lives.

To begin - The casting call seemed like any other– Two castings, one in New York, one in L.A., I happened to be in New York, so off I went, prepared to stand around in a sports bra and short shorts with a bunch of other barely clothed girls waiting to be herded in like cattle for ‘judgment’ as per usual - I was wrong.

Equinox took the time to interview and gather information about each and every person (and they did so for thousands of people). They also proceeded to video record each us telling our own life story and personal experience with Fitness– they wanted to know about the person.

Needless to say I was caught off guard and proceeded to ramble away my own ‘overcoming obstacle’ story to a production crew and panel of people. There’s nothing like being asked to public speak on the spot, let alone about a personal topic with cameras and an audience in your face for the sole purpose of being judged. However, rather then feeling nervous, I appreciated it, it was cathartic to be able to open up and expose my own life in this way. I left feeling proud and excited.

To my surprise and delight I was chosen to be part of the campaign and share my story with the rest of America. I was elated and then quickly humbled. At the shoot, I met five of the other individuals selected, and it was these people that made my experience worth telling. Each had such an incredible story of empowerment, despite the challenges and struggles they faced and overcame they carried the most positive attitudes and such a contagious energy and passion for life.

In all of these cases it would have been easy to backdown and accept the unfortunate circumstances they had been dealt but not one of these individuals did that. Rather than use it as an excuse, they turned it around and took it as a gift that added to their character. These people were the personification of beautiful inside and out.

I am hardly doing justice to these individuals or the campaign with this brief overview, but I invite you to check it out online. You can read their stories and view their utube videos

However, I do want to note the three most profound lessons I took with me from this experience:

Everyone Has Their Story – You can never tell by looking at someone what they’ve been through. If someone comes across as rude or short with you, don’t jump to conclusions, you don’t know what kind of day they are having. We can learn so much through other people, so take a moment to listen to someone else in this busy world.

Happiness is a State of Mind, Not a Circumstance – Attitude is everything. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it.

Our Journey Builds our Character - Life isn’t full of roses all the time. We all face challenges and struggles, rather than reacting with anger, sadness or defeat, try to see past the immediate state and focus on picking yourself up and doing what it takes to get past it. Overcoming obstacles makes you stronger.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you are interested, visit the Equinox ‘My Body, My Biography’ Campaign

My Body, My Biography

And please - share your own personal story, I’d love to hear it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolution 2010!

So the clock struck midnight and I realized I had not committed myself to a resolution (it is a little to easy to get carried away in New Years festivities)! But then you wake up January 1 and have a newfound urge to get after those resolutions!

As promised, I will share my own with you. I hope that by writing them here it will help me stay committed and also serve to inspire and provide support to you in your journey, whatever that may be.

First of all, I would like to set a goal for the benefit of you (at least I hope it benefits you), I will be writing and updating more frequently on my blog. I have gotten much feedback about getting more content up on a weekly basis - so that will be my first resolution.

Second - Tied closely to the first, I am going to try and get my website launched by the middle of February. I understand that the blog can be tricky for you to use and want to make that easier. I'd also like to offer you more content and variety.

Third - This one is for myself and my own personal life - I am going to try to cut down on my nighttime junk food snacks (yes I'm a junkaholic as hypocritical as that sounds). I adore food, especially the sweet, salty and carb-loaded. I'm not saying I will be eliminating all those tasty treats (let's be honest, food is one of the greatest pleasures of life), but I do plan to cut down my intake and substitute with healthier options.

Starting with small manageable changes will be best. For example, substituting potato chips for air popped popcorn with olive oil and switching from white pasta with cream sauce to whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce.

Resolutions can be tough, especially for someone like me who remains very 'set in my ways' but I think that by keeping your mind focused on the goal and how good it feels to achieve what you're after, the sacrifice will be well worth the results.

Cheers to you for a Happy New Year and Successful Resolutions!