BodyPump!

I remember taking my first BodyPump class.  I was all determined to hit those weights hard, show off in front of the instructor with heavier than normal weights and, afterwards, was totally pumped that I absolutely rocked the class.  Then 24 hours hit, and I was toast.  I couldn’t walk down the stairs without my eyes tearing.  My triceps felt like they were ripping apart every time I lifted my arms.  In addition, trying to make any sudden rotations with my body was not an option.  I was hurting.  I kept thinking, I will NEVER set foot in that class again, but soon realized I couldn’t wait to get back.

Why was that?  Why did I want to go back and do that to my body again?  I mean, I was physically beat after my first class, but mentally, I had to do it.  I loved exercising with a group of people doing the same thing, and I wanted to be a part of that group.  I wanted to experiment with my weights, learn better technique, and I loved the excitement the music created within the classroom.  It also helped that the instructor was awesome.  After six months of getting my butt beat by the BodyPump instructors, I realized I wanted to learn to teach this as well.  I was already teaching classes, but wanted to add a resistance class to the mix.  So, after passing a two-weekend workshop and a video audition, I finally became a BodyPump instructor in 1999.

BodyPump is one of the most popular Les Mills programs.  The premise is using lighter weights but more repetitions, which is something every body type can do.  A typical class, depending on your effort, will burn approximately 250 – 600 calories, and the best part is you work your entire body in 55 minutes.  Not bad, huh?

If you want to learn more about BodyPump, check the link below.  Message me with any questions you have.  Remember, I’ve been there.  I was in the back row of class too, and I survived.  I know you will too.  Come try it.

http://w3.lesmills.com/midatlantic/

It’s the Weekend

So the weekend is here and it’s one of the most trying times ever for my “diet.”  My eating habits turn to semi-crap over the weekend.  Why is that?  Well, research says that because we have more time on the weekends, we tend to eat more.  True.

I also have cheat days and I save those days for the weekend.  Cheat days are important for me.  I struggle each day during the week to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and exercise so I can have my cheat days to eat what I want.  Now, “what I want” means I’ll eat pasta in the evening, or have more than two glasses of wine, or share a dessert with my husband.

My Guilty Pleasure — please don’t tell anybody

I don’t go all crazy with the processed crap.  Actually, I don’t crave that junk anymore.  If I have one BAD cheat, it’s the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the box.  Yes, I know, it’s bad. But it tastes so good and you know what?  I survived on that stuff in college.  It was my only food source (thank you 18-year-old metabolism which kept me thin while eating crap!)

What I’m saying is if you’re eating well during the week, it’s okay to have a cheat day.  Get it out of your system and then hop back on the wagon.  Eventually, even on your cheat days, you will begin to make better choices.

Happy weekend!

Supplements

As a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, I am asked many times each week about supplements.  While my initial reaction would be to get your vitamins and minerals with food first, I know how hard that can be.  So, supplementing a diet with a multivitamin may be necessary.  While browsing today, I found this article regarding supplements.

As always, please consult with your physician before beginning a supplement program.

http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/nutrition/supplements-101

Posterior Chain

Let’s talk back

I mean your BACK side. Rear delts, rotator cuff, traps, rhomboids, erector spine, shoulder blades, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and even the back of your heels. Now, when you think about it, most injuries occur on our back side, the posterior chain. Rotator cuff injuries, shoulder injuries, low back pain, piriformis, hamstring, calf strain, and even Achilles heel. Ouch! Most strains are caused by muscle strength imbalances and lack of flexibility in doing our normal daily activities. Just a simple move like stepping off a curb can trigger a shooting pain up your leg, or a loss of balance.

In order to alleviate some of these injuries, we need to think about muscle balance. Your front side, the anterior chain, is strong. We are constantly working those muscles just by walking, running, stairs, and any other activity that propels us forward in that sagittal plane. So, let’s work on the back side. Let’s do shoulder exercises and take some postural assessments. Low back, glutes and hamstrings need to be strengthened. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch your calves. Most people have very tight calf muscles, and these are the muscles that help us do our squats, lunges, sprinting, and any quick agility movements. If these muscles are tight, they will inhibit our movement pattern, and may cause a muscular imbalance.

This, of course, is a very generic example of what we can do to alleviate injury to the posterior chain. There are exercises and stretches too numerous to mention in this short blurb. If you are interested in knowing more about specific exercises or stretches for strengthening the posterior chain, please contact me. I’ll happy to help!

 

Donna’s Story

Two years ago, at age 56,  I was headed on a downward spiral health-wise.  I weighed 190 pounds, led a very sedentary life, my cholesterol was high (even on medication), and my blood pressure was borderline.  The crowning blow came when my husband and I were on vacation with my son and his family.  I was mortified that it took too two adults to help me get back into our boat from the water!  I had virtually no upper body strength and flexibility.  Inspired by my daughter-in-law who had tremendous success working with a trainer at the gym I made an appointment to see about joining a gym and signing up for personal training.  I had belonged to a gym before but found every excuse in the book not to go, eventually giving up the membership.  This time, I figured that if someone was waiting on me at the gym – like an appointment –  I’d be more likely to show up.  When I was speaking with the person  in charge of assigning a trainer to me I mentioned that my favorite exercise was dancing.  He immediately paired me with Teresa.  Looking back I realize that was one of the defining moments in my life.

Teresa and I just celebrated two years of working together on both diet and exercise.  This is the longest period of time in my life since high school that I have kept up an exercise routine.  Teresa is constantly mixing it up and challenging me so I never get bored.  I have lost twenty pounds – two clothing sizes,  my cholesterol is within a healthy range and my blood pressure is 120/70!  Other benefits include having fewer aches and pains, more flexibility and improved balance.  I also discovered how good exercise is for stress.  I now look forward to getting off work and going to the gym.

This past January, because I felt I could handle it physically and because of the increased confidence I have in myself, I signed up for a dance class.  At 58 I would have told you those years had passed, but I’ve discovered I still have a lot of living to do!

I still have goals I need to achieve.  I would like to lose another twenty pounds.  With Teresa’s help  and encouragement I have no doubt it can be done.  She has taught me the goal is not the dress size but healthy living through diet and exercise.

By the way – I can get up into the boat by myself now!

Chocolate!

Let’s talk chocolate.

I love chocolate.  I love sweets but anything chocolate seems to satisfy my sweet tooth more.  During my journey of losing weight, I could not give up chocolate, I just had to find the right stuff.  Stuff that will keep my sweet tooth at bay but also be somewhat healthy.  So, on my mission, I had tasted many different brands of dark chocolate, but my favorite by far, is the Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate.  The taste was not as bitter to me as I expected.  It is smooth, yummy and, even better, 10% of the proceeds from sales goes to help save endangered species.

If you look at the nutritional content of this brand, you will find that it is low in sugars, and has fiber and antioxidants, just in a serving size.  Now the serving size is half a bar, and you will find that only two or three squares (one row) will suffice.  I eat one row of this chocolate a day.  That is half of a serving size.  Sometimes, it’s my snack in between meals, and if that’s the case, I will put a nut butter on it.  Oh my, I’m a genius.   I’ve created a high protein, low sugar, chocolate dessert that keeps my sweet tooth happy and my fat cells from growing!  Try it!

I buy my Endangered Species 88% dark chocolate bar at Whole Foods or Food Lion.  I know both places carry them.

As a side note, I was reading through my daughter’s Clean Eating magazine and found a tidbit on chocolate.  It reads that dark chocolate has a high concentration of cocoa flavenols which can lower blood pressure, increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol levels.  Note that these benefits are attached to higher-cocoa dark chocolate and in limited amounts, so don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.  As in all good things in life, moderation is key!

SMR (Self Myofascial Release)

SMR (Self Myofascial Release)

The foam roller and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the way it makes my muscles feel after using it, but I hate using it on my muscles because it hurts!  Crazy, I know.

If you’ve ever foam-rolled your muscles, then you know what I’m talking about.  Our muscles get tight when we use them and sometimes they feel as if they are in knots.  The foam roller is a self-massage tool, that helps loosen the fascia surrounding our muscles so we can stretch the muscles properly.  It also helps to release those areas that feel like the “knots” I mentioned earlier.

To do Self Myofascial Release, you need to position yourself on the roller where you can put pressure on the “knot” that needs to be massaged.  Then gently roll back and forth for as long as you can handle the pressure.  Do this exercise 2-3 times daily and you will have your muscles warmed up and ready for stretch and activity.

Below is a link that explains more about SMR.  It also shows how to roll certain muscles.

http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/self-myofascial-release.html

Small Group Training at ACAC

SMALL GROUP TRAINING

Small group trainings are comprised of 5 or less people. In these group sessions, we focus on more individualized strength and cardio. Lots of functional and balance training using the bosu, the stability ball, the balance pads, Kinesis, TRX, sled and kettlebells.

The price for small group training is $13 for members and $25 for non-members for 30-minute sessions. Packages of 8 or 6 are available. One-hour sessions are available as well. Contact me at teresah@acac.com for more information.

The 10,000-swing challenge!

http://kettlebellinc.com/magazine/2011/11/10000-swing-challenge/

The 10,000-swing challenge!

I did this in July.  It was mentally and physically grueling on some days, but on other days, it was an exercise rush.  In August, after the challenge was over, I found myself wanting to swing some each day…weird, huh?

In order to get through 10,000 swings in one month, I had to do the math.  To stay on track, I knew I should do at least 322 swings a day.  Some days I did 400 swings; some days I did 100 swings.  Towards the end of the month, there was one day I did 1,200 swings.  I found that 100 swings took me a little over 2 minutes to do.  This was the mental part of the workout.  I knew I could handle 2 minutes at a time, so I would break up my 300 swings into 100-swing intervals.  I would swing in the AM, maybe at lunch, while working with clients (we both would swing), and definitely after dinner.  I would start with a light kettlebell for the first 100 swings, and then increase to a heavier bell for the rest of the swings.  Some days I would just stick with the lighter bell.  Again, I just listened to my body.  If I weren’t feeling it, I would put the bell down and begin again the next day.

I found that I felt much stronger with the rest of my workouts during this challenge month.  My abs were always sore and that’s a good thing!  I plan on doing this challenge again in January and I hope to have you join me this time.  You have plenty of time to practice, and to get some kettlebell instruction if needed.  We can do this together and support each other.  It’s going to be fun!