Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gym Offenders Caught!

We've all seen them, we've all rolled our eyes at them, and we may even *gasp* be friends with one of them! They are the notorious gym goers engaging in the most obnoxious, annoying, and sometimes just plain rude activities. Whether it is hogging the machines by resting on them (as if they've never heard of the term 'working in' should you be so bold as to ask them), grunting like a gorilla at the bench press, leaving big sweaty pools on the equipment and walking away, or looking like a kind of Gym Barbie, no matter your location these stereotypes are apt to follow.

True, many of these habits are essentially harmless (unless you happen to lay back on a huge sweat spot!) but they surely grind your gears. And what better way to let out that frustration than to poke a little fun at these folks! So we have for your entertainment Gym Offenders Caught! Hopefully you will get a little chuckle, and if you see something that hits a little too close to home, then maybe you can take note and help to make each and every gym out there a bit more enjoyable for the rest of us!


Ahhh, the Lackadaisical Lucy of the cardio equipment...but has anyone ever told her that plodding along at 2.0 mph does not a workout consist? The key to any kind of workout is to actually work...feel that burn because that will yield you results. Ramp up that intensity, Lucy, and those pounds will start to budge; she also should pick up some weights and engage in strength exercises to build lean muscle which will increase her metabolism. Finally, she needs to adjust her diet and make sure she's eating the right kinds of carbs, getting plenty of protein, avoiding saturated fats, and keeping everything in balance. Yet the most annoying part of Lucy's behavior is that she is the one constantly complaining and professing that, "exercise just doesn't work" which we all know is a nasty, ugly, jiggly-thighed lie! :)

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Squeeze in those workouts so you're not squeezing into your jeans!

Happy Holidays! This time of the year is often associated with our favorite food fares, plenty of parties (with ample amounts of drinks and spreads), and a sort of 'throw your troubles to the wind' attitude. Unfortunately, what many people also do is allow their workouts to be tossed to the wayside as well.

Neglecting fitness during the holidays can be attributed to a variety of reasons: you're busy traveling and just don't have time to cram in a workout, the holidays should be spent with the family not breaking a sweat, and of course the steadfast, "I'll get fit in the New Year." Yet there really is no reason why you can't do your body a favor and stay active throughout the entire year...again, fitness is a way of life! So here are a few things to keep in mind between parties and cups of hot cocoa as well as some tips for even the busiest of folk.

  • Keep Your Fit Mindset: Athletes and fitness fanatics alike don't view this time of the year much different than any other. Of course you should allow yourself to be a bit more flexible in your schedule and indulge in some of the more decadent foods as well, but you should still stick to your workout regimine. Remember all the hard work you've done to attain your current level of strength and stamina and that doing nothing for even a couple weeks will set you way back.
  • Get Sneaky With It: Even if you are waiting for a connecting flight or not in a typical 'gym' environment, that doesn't mean you can't get in a mini-workout. Yes, you may need to kick your self-consciousness to the curb, but you can find a secluded corner and bust out a few sets of push-ups, crunches, chair dips, and even jumping jacks to get the heart rate elevated.
  • Get Everyone Involved: Going for a family run (they even have a few fun runs on Christmas!), snowshoeing, and even a little competitive soccer game are all ways you can both get in your workout and bond with the family.
  • Set the Alarm Clock: While in an ideal world everyone would share your same motivation to workout, but that's not reality. If your family isn't one that is all too keen to breaking a sweat, and there are even instances where us fitness folk catch some flack for being cited as cramping their plans, wake up earlier and get your workout in before any of the planned events. You'll feel better about yourself, be energized for the rest of the day, and your workout won't effect anyone else's schedule.
  • Savor those Treats: Any diet should include some of your favorite foods, everything in moderation, and view this time of the year as that. Allow yourself some of the things you truly crave, but you don't have to think of the buffet table as a challenge. Take a look at all that is offered and then fill your plate with a healthy balance; pick a few things you usually may not allow yourself but don't negelect healthy eating habits.
Another great perk, and motivating factor, to keep up your fitness program is that burning off all those calories grants you even greater leeway when it comes times for cookies and cake! You'll also be ringing in the New Year wearing the same jeans size and feeling far better about yourself.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Calorie Burning Factor - Which Cardio Machine Burns the Most

While the benefits of working out are far more than simply burning calories, a vast number of people hitting the cardio machines in the gym are hoping to shed some pounds of fat. And let's be honest, one of the greatest perks about being a fitness fanatic is that you are granted the liberty to be a little more flexible with your diet and indulge in your fav fares. So when it comes to what kind of specific cardio activity or cardio machine that burns the most calories here's the skinny.

A couple of things to keep in mind are that the more muscle groups that you engage the more energy you will be expending, and similarly the more calories you will be burning. Also, the larger the muscle group, the more the caloric expenditure will be. (For example you'd be working harder doing an activity with your legs, like running, than you would if you were using your arms, like with an arm biking machine.) Here are how the most popular cardio machines at the gym stack up:

1) Treadmill: Running burns the most calories per minute of exertion than any other activity. Think about it, you're using pretty much every muscle in your body from your legs propelling you, your arms pumping, and if you're using proper running form your core muscles are taut. The only negative here is that running is a very high impact sport and is hard on the joints; so you need to be carefull about not doing too much if you are prone to injury.

2) Elliptical: This is very similar to running, but it negates a lot of the impact on the joints. You'll burn slightly fewer calories than actual running but you can make sure to make the most of your cardio effort by using your arms as you would in a running stride. Some ellipticals have moving arms, but even on those that don't you should swing your arms and not rest them on the side rails; nor should you support yourself on the rails or hunch over.

3) Stair-Steppers: These also engage most of your muscles and just as the case with the eillipticals you shouldn't drape yourself over the arm rests and 'cheat.'

4) Rowing Machine: Surprised? Many people think the rower is only an upperbody machine...but they're wrong. You are using your legs to push you back and forward, your core is engaged, and then of course your arms are working hard as well. Don't underestimate how hard this baby can be when done right; I did a lot of cross training on this back in high school and I can attest to how high I was able to get my heart rate up to!

5) Bikes: The bike is an excellent cardio activity, but it burns the least amount of calories per minute because only your legs working. Don't poo-poo it though because you can crank up the resistance and trust me, Lance Armstrong is no slouch and those bikers are known to put down some serious food to keep up their energy stores. But for gym-goers you can take advantage of this tip: go for an upright bike over one with a back that allows you to recline as you'll be working less on the latter.

In closing, it really does come down to the level of your exertion in anything that you do. You also want to pick an activity that you enjoy and you will be consistent with. You want to elevate that heart rate, keep it there, and remember...that burning feeling is a good thing! :)

You can check out some awesome calorie blasting workouts at

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Hello…Now Let’s Get You Fit!

Hello Everyone and by gosh, Amanda, you have me blushing!

I am super excited to be a part of the Amanda Russell Workouts team and look forward to sharing with you all tips and workout philosophies that I’ve gleamed over the years. I also hope to do it in a way that is amusing enough to keep you reading and wanting to come back for more (always gotta keep ‘em hungry, right?!), but most importantly get you excited about your workouts, achieving your fitness goals, and debunking the propaganda insinuating that workout is a ‘bad’ word!

So, off my pedestal now…for those who may have heard it’s been a rather tough year for me. We don’t need to go into the gory details, but the short of it is, that for a girl who’s literally ALWAYS on the move (we’re talking I’ve never even attempted to sit through a single Lord of the Rings flick for the sheer fact that there is NO WAY I’d be able to sit in a theater for more than an hour and a half), going through an accident that left me bed bound for months felt something akin to a death sentence. Thankfully I have some incredible people in my life that helped me make it through one day, and then the next, as I couldn’t have done it without them.

So, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, and what does this have to do with working out??”…don’t worry I’m getting to the point. The point is…the way I made it through is that I took it one day at a time, actually more like one hour at a time. I didn’t think about the long road ahead of me, I didn’t think of all of the ‘what if’s’ and I didn’t even really look beyond one measly task at a time. First it was wiggling my big toe then it was trying to move my foot. When I was AT LAST able to attempt walking, and then doing the elliptical machine, I forced myself to disregard anything I had ever done in the past and didn’t compare the ‘new’ me to the me of the past.

I’ve had so many people say to me, “I really want to be a runner, but I just can’t go more than two minutes without having to stop!”; the rest of their end of the conversation usually winds up with them stating that they ended up getting so frustrated by what they can’t do that they just stopped and gave up even trying. They wind up not doing anything at all. But the thing is, by beating themselves up they not only end up feeling like a failure but they also make it impossible for them to ever improve. Don’t look so far down the road, or even to the ultimate goal that you want to reach; instead, accept where you are today and set mini-goals along the way, (think of them sort of like check points) eventually leading up to a bigger goal.

A year ago I would have laughed at myself for feeling like I’m going all out on the elliptical when the tension setting was at level 1. But at that point I was just so grateful to be doing ANYTHING that it felt like a victory; I had achieved one of my mini-goals and I set out to conquer the next.

Alright, I hope this wasn’t too incredibly long-winded, but I thought about what I wanted my very first post to be (yes, even nervous like that first day of school feeling…Are they going to like me?!?!) and I thought I had to at least kind of introduce myself without jumping straight in…but I also wanted to make a very important point in regards to your own fitness. The mind is usually our BIGGEST limiting factor…don’t out-think yourself of achieving what you want to do. If you want to be a runner but don’t think you can, take those two minutes you CAN do and set your first mini-goal to be able to make it to three minutes. Don’t look past that benchmark until you are there…and in time, you’ll have traveled so far down the road you’ll look back and think, “Huh, well, I guess it was possible!”

-Cait :)

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Friday, December 10, 2010


Hello Friends,
I am so excited to tell you that I will be updating the blog much more often now AND it will be MUCH more entertaining, all because of a special person.
Last winter, I happened to reconnect with a former teammate. Those of you in the running world may know her name or recognize her from various magazines, as she was an American Track Super Star, her name….Caitlin Chock.
The story of how we reunited is quite interesting, and absolutely fateful, so I wanted to share it with you here (I will give you a very brief summary).
We first met at the University of Richmond, where we were teammates for only one month, before Caitlin left the University to train with the Nike Project in Portland, Oregan. Despite our short time training together, Caitlin and I shared a special connection, however, with the politics of her ‘move’, we were separated and lost touch. We never imagined that, as fate would have it, we would wind up having nearly parallel experiences while living on opposite ends of the continent.
While I had dealt for years with my own injury and its repercussions, as well as mourning the fact that I may never run again, I was called to reality. One March evening, sitting in my hotel room I stumbled upon the blog of Caitlin Chock. I was immediately captivated – according to her blog she had just survived a major car accident, Yes Caitlin Chock, one of the best female runner’s I had ever known as immobolized! The ‘hit and run’, resulted in near loss of her right leg; bones exposed, tendon severed, it took multiple surgeries and plenty of metal to merely close the wound. The doctors informed her that her running days were over.
The ever-positive and competitive-minded Caitlin decided she would not let this accident end her life in athletics. She became a diligent student in all things fitness; integrating what she learned from renowned coaches and experts and competing as an elite athlete she guided her own rehabilitation. From that she has devised methods and techniques that mirrored my philosophy.
It became evident we had both been through our own debilitating experience that would end our elite running careers, but through this we both realized our passion for fitness and ability to go back to it and turn it into something that could help other people.
I immediately called Caitlin that night, and it was like no time had been lost, we have been in constant communication. The majority of our conversations revolve around all things fitness, what works, what doesn’t, the newest thing we’ve tried , our ideas for the future, the ridiculous things we see at the gym, etc.
After much talk, shared passion, enthusiasm and the fact that Caitlin is an incredibly interesting and witty writer, Caitlin will be tag-teamming with me as a contributor to this blog. In the New Year she will also be joining my team at The AR Program as a bi-monthly columnist.
So, with no further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Caitlin Chock (Cait)! I’m so excited to have her on here J