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A Strong Finish

We made it to the end of another work week, and I made it to the end of an intense four-week small group training class at New York Sports Clubs.

For the “grand finale,” our (awesome) instructor Roberto Murichi had us run through the same workout we did during our first week so we could measure our gains in cardio capability, strength and endurance. Here’s a look at the program. (Just like the 50-30-20 I wrote about earlier in the week, this isn’t a workout I’d recommend for a fitness newbie or anyone returning to an exercise routine after a hiatus.)

After an eight-minute warm-up which included 20-second bouts of six exercises including push-ups, squats, and sit-ups, we moved on to the heart of the workout. Roberto set up five stations for the following exercises:

  1. Burpee
  2. Kettlebell high pull
  3. Push-ups
  4. Jump rope
  5. Box Jump

The goal was to perform as many reps as possible in one minute before moving on to the next exercise. After completing the fifth exercise, we got to enjoy one minute of rest! Then we started the circuit all over again for round two. For the third and final round, we had to keep track of every single rep we completed from the first burpee to the last box jump. Those reps added up to our final score.

The first week of the class, my score came in at 180. Wednesday night, I made it to 242. Each of my classmates on “Team Alpha” saw their numbers improve, too. Needless to say, we were all happy with the results!

I’m happy I took Roberto’s class for many reasons, but mainly because it offered a needed jolt to my fitness routine and it also provided a new perspective on high-intensity circuit training. I look forward to one more class after work tonight to make up for some of the time I lost while sipping rum punch on the beach in Jamaica. There’s a very good chance I’ll be signing up for round two of this class which starts in April…so stay tuned for more intense workout ideas to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Small Group Training

On this Workout Wednesday, I thought I’d tell you about a new adventure I just started to add a little variety to my own routine.

Every Monday and Wednesday night for the next eight weeks, you can find me at New York Sports Club getting my butt kicked in a small group training class called called UXF, short for “Ultimate Fitness Experience.” Six of us signed up for the one-hour class led by my friend and personal trainer extraordinaire Roberto Murichi. One class down and I can’t wait to go back for more! Along with getting a killer workout, I’m also using this class to expand my knowledge as a personal trainer by learning from someone who’s been in the industry for the past decade.

A “Basic” Butt-Kicking Exercise!

The Push-Up

After a warm up that included eight rounds of bicycle crunches, squats and push ups – performing as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest – Roberto set up five stations for us to rotate through as a circuit. The exercises ranged from using ropes to lifting with kettlebells. We worked at each station for 60-seconds straight, then moved on to the next. (There was one rest station. Each of us breathed a serious sigh of relief when it was our turn to move to that spot!)

After several rounds, it was easy to see how this class offers a killer combination of strength training and cardio. As we move forward, the exercises will change, and the number of rounds will increase. Roberto will “score” each of us at an upcoming class and he’ll do the same thing when we wrap at the end of April. I can’t wait to see how my numbers compare!

Photos by Lauren Bachner

Along with the intense exercises and Roberto’s expertise as a motivational fitness instructor, there’s something else I love about this class: the small group dynamic.There’s some sort of instant bond that seems to develop when you get a half-dozen people together who are at different stages of training. One of my small group classmates has been working with Roberto in one-on-one sessions for the past two months. His wife also signed up for the class, but in her case, it marks the first time she’s stepped foot inside the gym during the same time frame.

While each of us may be starting at a different fitness level, we all share similar goals of improving our strength, endurance and agility. The bottom line is we’re all looking to do what we can to be physically fit.

I look forward to spending the next eight weeks sweating it out with my new classmates and encouraging each other to get through those seemingly never-ending circuits. Whether you sign up for a small group training class; take the same Zumba classes every week; join a running club or workout with a personal trainer, it’s nice to have fitness friends to help you on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

More Music That Moves Me

I am always listening for new music to add to my “workout mix” playlist.  Thanks to my friend Gabby, I discovered the Kim Sozzi Radio “station” on Pandora and I’ve collected some good beats to move to while working through a heart-pumping cardio or circuit training workout.  What I particularly like about these songs is that you won’t hear them on mainstream radio a dozen times a day. In fact, chances you are you may not hear some of them even once today on a local radio station.  So, as we head into another weekend, here are my 10 new favorites that keep me moving at the gym. (They also help me keep walking at a pretty good pace during my walk to work in the morning!)

“Get Better” KMC featuring Sandy

“Why You Had to Leave” Cascada

“Point of No Return” Unique/DJ Encore

“Chemistry” (Eric S Remix Radio Mix) Velvet

“The Longest Road” (Deadmau 5 Mix) Morgan Page

“I Can’t Help Myself” (Sunfreakz Mix) Bellatrax featuring Sophia May

“Flatline” (Kyau & Albert Radio Edit) Cosmic Gate featuring Kyler England

“Can’t Sleep” Above & Beyond

“Man on the Run” Cerf, Mitiska & Jaren

“Unforgivable” Armin van Buren featuring Jaren

I realize there are a lot of music genres out there, and these dance songs may not motivate you to move. That being said, I’d love to hear what tunes keep you in motion! Also, if you have music that helps you cool down, stretch or unwind after a workout or a long day, please send those titles and artists along, too.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Window of Opportunity

As we start a new work week filled with new opportunities, I thought I’d offer yet another motivating factor to make exercise a part of your daily routine: Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. If one of your fitness goals if body fat reduction, consider EPOC your new best friend.

In the simplest of terms, EPOC is the state in which the body’s metabolism is elevated after exercise. During this period of time, the body burns more calories than it did before you started your workout. (Many fitness professionals refer to this as exercise or caloric afterburn.)  Since body fat reduction involves burning more calories than you consume, isn’t it good to know that burn doesn’t stop when your total body conditioning class is over? Thanks to EPOC, the burn goes on -which makes it the perfect time to recharge with a healthy meal.

Why does the body need more oxygen after exercise? The main reason is so it can get back to its resting state which involves:
1. Replenishing energy stores (ATP and muscle glycogen)
2. Re-oxygenating the blood
3. Restoring tissue temperature
4. Restoring pre-exercise respiratory and heart rates

There is conflicting information about the duration of EPOC and whether gender factors into the time limit.  In my personal experience, my favorite group exercise instructors and personal trainers have given me an EPOC window of 90 minutes. That means I make it point to eat a healthy meal within that timeframe.  After getting the heart racing and muscles moving, why waste the chance to burn some extra calories?

I should point out EPOC in itself isn’t the sole reason for body fat reduction or weight loss, but for someone new to fitness, it’s a big boost. As your fitness level increases, so should your exercise intensity, and you will also want to consider adding variety to your routine. For example, many studies show instead of relying solely on the treadmill for your cardio workout, circuit training could be a new way to add variety and intensity to your routine, leading to greater levels of EPOC and strength.

Regardless of your fitness level, I thought it would be helpful to shed some light on why you should take advantage of your post-workout window of opportunity when it comes to re-fueling with food. It’s good to know that once you make the commitment to take care of yourself, the body possesses its own physiological phenomenons to help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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