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Three Years Later….

FullSizeRender-2On this Motivation Monday, I find myself amazed once again about the passing of time. Here we are marching toward the end of April. It feels like just yesterday I was posting tips about setting realistic goals for those New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for projects in my production world that I worked on one year ago and catching up with clients I met as many as five years ago.

Then one morning last week, as my jelly-like legs struggled to take me back home after a Physique57® workout, I was zapped with another time check: it was three years ago this month when I started the fitness program that changed my body -and my mental health! – for the better. In April 2013, my longtime gal pal Amy brought me to my very first Physique57 class, and I’ve been hooked every since. After hundreds of classes, I’ve never gotten bored thanks to an amazing group of instructors who never serve up the same workout twice. Despite being comfortable with the class format, my body is still sore as hell after a 57-minute barre workout that combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches.

While I’d encourage everyone to try a Physique57 workout at a studio or online, the true purpose of sharing this “anniversary” is to offer proof that finding an activity you love is crucial to sticking with a fitness routine. Equally important is realizing your likes, dislikes and needs may change through the different stages of your life. During my Northwestern years and the ones that followed as I entered the working world, I had no problem working out solo and pushing myself to extremes in the weight room. As work and life grew more complicated over the years, I started gravitating toward group exercise classes. While I still do my own thing on certain days, I feed off the energy of a group dynamic. There’s something about being surrounded by the power of my fellow workout warriors pushing through seemingly never-ending planks and squats along with the positive vibes from my instructors and high-energy music.

I hope sharing my Physique57 journey to date encourages you to take stock of your own fitness routine. If you find yourself going through the motions this spring, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to get back into total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that makes you feel like you can take on whatever the world throws at you. Sometimes, taking a moment to realize where you’ve been and how far you’ve come is all the motivation you need to take the next steps in your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


Laura’s Newest Love: PILOXING®

IMG_3363A change of seasons is the perfect time to think about mixing up your health and fitness routine. On this first Motivation Monday of the summer of 2014, I can report I certainly kicked my favorite season with a bang!

Yesterday, I learned all about an incredible fitness program called PILOXING®. The concept, developed by Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, combines Pilates, boxing and dance to create a super high-energy interval workout. At the end of the 60-minute master class that kicked off the eight-hour instructor training day, my heart was pounding, my clothes were drenched in sweat – and I was hooked.

What exactly did I love about this workout? Each jab or uppercut I threw wearing half-pound weighted gloves made me feel powerful. Every standing Pilates move made my muscles feel longer and my body seem more graceful. And every hip shake I belted out through the dance sections simply made me smile – and sweat even more. Add some killer tunes and a hands-on training day led by two PILOXING® powerhouses – Jordan Ballard and Amy Gilberg – and I ended up having the most energized Sunday I can remember in forever!

with "Amy G," Master Trainer of New York

With Amy Gilberg,  New York Master Trainer

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile may remember Amy’s name from some of my earliest posts. She’s not only the PILOXING® Master Trainer for New York, she’s one of my fabulous fitness friends who encouraged me to get certified in the industry back in 2011. Being a participant in her first certification workshop made the day extra special and extra fun!

I have some work ahead of me before I can teach my first class, but yesterday’s workshop gave me a solid foundation to get started. It also gave me some continuing education credits to use toward my AFAA recertification which is coming up quickly in September. If you’d like more information about my newest fitness addiction, you can check out the PILOXING® website. Remember, finding a workout that works for you is the key to sticking with your health and fitness routine. When you need to inject some fresh energy to that routine, trying out new group exercise dynamics can help. If you happen to find one that makes you feel like you can handle whatever life throws your way at the end of a workout, even better!

with Jordan Ballard, US Master Trainer

With Jordan Ballard, US Master Trainer

Whatever is on your agenda for the summer ahead, be sure to mix things up and let me know what new finds help keep you moving. Here’s to a great season filled with plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My Newest Fitness Addiction

Confident My New Fitness Addiction will Get Me Back in "Fighting Form" for Summer!  Photo by Leslie Hassler

Confident My New Fitness Addiction will Get Me Back in “Fighting Form” for Summer!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

You know that old saying  “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it”? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened to me when it comes to my fitness routine.

As a lifelong fitness lover, I’ve known about the benefits of traditional exercises like squats, lunges and crunches for years. While I’m not knocking the strength and conditioning benefits of these exercises, let’s face it. You do the same thing all the time and it’s bound to get boring. That makes it too easy to fly through the exercises with poor form or worse, simply skip them altogether. That’s exactly what was happening to me. While I hate to admit it, my glutes and legs haven’t been pushed to their maximum capacity for quite some time. That all changed thanks to three workouts during the past seven days.

For months, my friend Amy has been raving about some amazing workouts courtesy of Physique57®. Considering Amy lives a mere three blocks away and the classes are offered in her building, scheduling conflicts were the only thing keeping me from getting there. I finally had a free morning last Sunday and met Amy for a beginner class. Fifty-seven minutes later, I was 100% exhilarated and 100% hooked.

The workout is based on classical ballet and the Lotte Method and combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches. This doesn’t mean you have to be a dancer to get hooked on this intense workout. Believe me, ballet was never my thing. (I’ve always said there’s a reason why Grace isn’t my middle name.) All you need is a desire to focus on your body movements while listening to great music and the motivational cues from instructors who push you to work each muscle to failure. Those exercises include everything from never-ending reps with free weights for your arms; leg and glute work at the bar; “thigh dancing” on the floor; hard-core core work; and plenty of push-ups, planks and tricep dips. They also incorporate stretching throughout the class to help the muscles recover after each leg-trembling set of moves.

I realize there may not be a Physique57 in your hometown and you may not even be interested in the idea of this kind of fitness-fusion class. The real point of writing this post was to offer a Motivation Monday nudge to take stock of your fitness routine. If you’re just going through the motions, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to remember the importance of total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that takes you outside your “comfort zone” and pushes you to put all your energy into each and every rep.

During this past week, I’ve actually been happy about being sore in places that haven’t been sore in far too long. I’m excited to see how incorporating this workout into my routine can make my body stronger and leaner for the summer. Another buzz about Physique57 and similar programs that use the “Bar Method” concept is that they’re designed to improve your posture. As one of the millions of Americans who spend too many hours each day at a computer, anything I can do to stand taller and feel better about it is a huge plus! Stay tuned…and remember, it’s never too late in the game to introduce your body to new challenges to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Your Workout Wednesday Following Fat Tuesday

No doubt I’ll be starting this Ash Wednesday in a bit of a post-chocolate haze.

Ever since my days at Northwestern,I’ve celebrated many a Fat Tuesday with millions of other people around the world in a bit of decadent indulgence.

Need to Un-Do Some Decadence?

Since I give up desserts and sweets for Lent, I tend to “stock up” on Fat Tuesday. In my 20s, that often meant enjoying a dinner of chocolate chip pancakes with extra butter and chocolate sauce and a thick chocolate shake to wash it all down. A decade later, while I don’t ingest all that richness at one sitting, I do enjoy a few sugary treats throughout the day and some kind of chocolate ice cream concoction as the grand finale.

However, there are three reasons I refuse to be consumed by guilt over this day of decadence:

  1. It’s a one-time event in a 365-day period.
  2. For the past seven years, Fat Tuesday has fallen on the same day of the week as my favorite group exercise class. I’m just sure to kick things up an extra notch at NYSC’s Club Strength on this specific Tuesday where I tend to throw moderation out the window.
  3. Workout Wednesday immediately follows Fat Tuesday.

So, if you went a little overboard yesterday, consider it some extra motivation to make today’s workout count! Not sure you need to be motivated? Consider this: pancakes rank at the top of the Fat Tuesday favorite-food list almost every year. If you enjoyed this crowd pleaser at a restaurant like IHOP last night, remember each pancake weighs in at approximately 180 calories and six grams of fat. According to CalorieKing, burning off the calories in just one fluffy combination of sugar, flour and eggs would require 50 minutes of walking, 21 minutes of jogging, 15 minutes of swimming or 27 minutes of cycling. If you enjoyed a stack of four or five…well, you can do the math.

All that being said, there’s another tradition I follow pretty religiously every year on this specific Workout Wednesday. It’s the perfect day for intense cardio training. I’m talking about taking things a step beyond a “typical” 30-minute jaunt on the elliptical. Click here for a refresher on how to take things to the next level with interval training. If you haven’t tried interval training before – it’s a good day to start!

I’ll end with a common LauraLovesFitness theme: life is simply too short to deny yourself the things you really enjoy. For me, that includes chocolate, cupcakes, ice cream and red wine. On the rare occasions I do splurge and enjoy one or more of those decadent items on the same day, I simply make it a point to get back on track with my healthy food choices the next day and add some extra time to my workout. Finding a balance for all the things that bring you happiness is a challenging but critical part of our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Lunchtime Workout

I’m not sure where the weekend went, but here we are facing another Monday and the last two days of January! As my type A+ personality starts mentally preparing for a pretty intense work week, I thought I’d address a fitness-related question that has a work angle, too.

Aimee recently posed the following question via my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page:  Any advice for those of us fitting in 30 minute lunch workouts? I am typically doing 20-25 minutes of cardio followed by a quick core/weights. If you could recommend treadmill/arc trainer settings to get the most of it plus times – I would appreciate it!!! 

First of all, kudos to Aimee and anyone else who uses a lunch break for the benefit or his or her health! Regardless of what time of day you working out, I recommend getting a heart rate monitor as it takes the guess-work out of determining  just how hard your body is working. (Those silver heart-rate measuring “strips” on the cardio machines aren’t always accurate.)

Now as far as the workout goes, here’s the bottom line: it doesn’t matter what the incline or resistance settings on the machine say. What does matter is whether you’re working at a challenging  yet safe level within the appropriate heart rate zone for your stage of training.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll offer some parameters for anyone working out with a goal of body fat reduction. The Law of Thermodynamics teaches us that to reach this goal, you must burn more calories than you consume. Cardio is usually one of the first things people start doing to make those calories disappear.

If you’re a beginner or returning to the gym after a hiatus, you should be performing cardio within heart rate zone one.   Click here for a refresher on how to calculate your target heart rate for this zone.  (My zone one heart rate is 119-137.) NASM principles indicate a person shouldn’t advance to zone two until he or she can maintain a zone one heart rate for at least 30 minutes two to three times per week.

One you’ve built a good base (which can take more than a month), you’re ready for zone two, which is 80-85% of your maximum heart rate (HR max). Again, I’ll use myself as an example for the parameters:

  1. 220-37 = 183 (HR max)
  2. 183 X 0.80 = 146
  3. 183 X 0.85 = 156
  4. Laura’s Zone Two Heart Rate = 146-156

This level is extra fun because if you’re working in stage two of your overall fitness program, this is where interval training comes in. For those using treadmills, arc trainers or other cardio machines, you can now increase the workload (speed, incline, level) to alter your heart rate between zones one and two. So here’s how my interval training would look on the elliptical:

  • Five-minute warm up zone one (119-137)
  • One minute in zone two (146-156)
  • Five minutes in zone one
  • One minute in zone two
  • Five minutes in zone one
  • One minute in zone two
  • Three – five minute cool down in zone one

If Aimee’s ready for this stage of training, this would be a good approximate 20-minute cardio workout for the treadmill or arc trainer. Again, the key is to find a way to accurately measure her heart rate to make sure she’s working within the designated zones.

A couple of final notes: there is a heart rate zone three as well as a training stage three, but these are designated for advanced athletes. (I’d be happy to address these in a future post if anyone would like the information.) Finally, for Aimee or anyone who’s squeezing in some cardio, core and resistance training in a short period of time, please don’t skimp on the stretching! I know it’s tough to get it all in, but sticking with a well-rounded routine is one of the best ways to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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