Friday, July 31, 2009

Feature Friday - Water vs. Water-Rich Foods

The dog days of summer have been with us a while and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down. I bet you can't even count the number of times you have been told, "You need to drink more water. Especially during the summer."

There are times I think to myself, "If I drink one more glass of water I am going to float away."

Unfortunately, you can't compromise proper hydration and drinking an adequate amount of water is part of that. However, there are other options that will leave you feeling satisfied and a bit more hydrated.

Often times, we feel like we need a little extra hydration after a tough workout. Naturally, we assume we need to drink more water. However, research shows that water-rich vegetables may hydrate your body more than a glass of water.

Our faithful clear liquid is refreshing and free of calories which will always make it a healthy and necessary option. However, water-rich fruits and produce provide nutrients like amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins in addition to hydration.

During an exhausting training session, or extremely hot day, you lose electrolytes which need to be replenished. Brilliant marketing efforts on behalf of various sports drinks will have you believe they are the only viable options. I am here to tell you that you can get the same benefits from water-rich fruits and produce, without the added sugar and flavorings from sports drinks.

What are some great water-rich foods:

Watermelon - The appropriately named fruit is rich in vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene...and contains nearly 92 percent water.

Cucumber - Cucumbers deliver a high water content as well as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Celery - Crunchy celery is actually 96 percent water. It also provides sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

Now, these food options will help aide in the hydration process but it is still important to consume an adequate amount of water each day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - I don't need to eat breakfast!

One of the biggest myths is skipping breakfast will assist in weight loss. People often underestimate the importance of eating a healthy and filling breakfast. That first meal of the day will set the tone for the remainder of your day, so it is important to fuel your body with the energy it will need to survive the hectic day ahead.

Another myth is that life is too busy to worry about breakfast and it isn't that important anyway as long as you eat a good lunch. Understandably, mornings can get overwhelming while trying to get ready for work, hustle the kids off to school and grab what you need for the day. However, neglecting the first meal of the day can be more detrimental to your overall well being than one might initially think...

In fact, research shows that people who skip their morning meal tended to eat about 100 calories more over the course of a day than individuals who did eat breakfast. The negative effects of skipping breakfast may also include an increased risk of heart disease.

A good idea for those whose mornings resemble a Nascar pit crew? Fix breakfast the night before! This will prevent additional rushing in the morning, and if the morning routine is more hectic than usual, just grab this muffin and eat it when you get to work while the kids can enjoy it on their way to school
Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/3 tsp. Salt
1 Whole Banana (mashed)
1 Whole Egg
1/4 C. Vegetable Oil
1 C. Flour
3/4 C. Brown Sugar (packed)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 C. Yogurt
3/4 C. Blueberries
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 C. Oatmeal (quick)
3/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour

In bowl, whisk together sugar, yogurt, banana, oil, and egg; stir in rolled oats. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Pour yogurt mixture over top; sprinkle with blueberries and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups. bake in center of 375 degree oven until tops are firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on rack.

Serves 12

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feature Friday - Which Body Type Are You?

There are three body types and each body type has a specific personality associated with it. The body type system characterized the human body as ectomorphic, mesomorphic, or endomorphic.

Not every human being fits exactly into one of these categories but contains characteristics of each, although one is usually predominant over the others. In order to determine your body type, one needs to look back at your adolescent years to determine which category your body type possessed before changes due to age and lifestyle transformed you into what you are today.

Which of The 3 Body Types Are You?

The Ectomorph Body Type - think marathon runners!
* Narrow shoulders and hips
* A thin and narrow face, with a high forehead
* A thin and narrow chest and abdomen
* Thin legs and arms

The Mesomorph Body Type is somewhere between the round endomorph and the thin ectomorph.
* Large head, broad shoulders, and narrow waist (wedge-shaped)
* Muscular body, with strong forearms and thighs
* Very little body fat
* Genetically gifted; greatest bodybuilding potential
* Long torso, full chest, good shoulder to waist ratio

The Endomorph Body Type is physically quite "round", is typified as the "barrel of fun" person.
* Wide hips and narrow shoulders, which makes them rather pear-shaped
* Quite a lot of fat spread across the body, including upper arms and thighs
* They have slim ankles and wrists, which only serves to accentuate the fatter other parts
* Wide bone structure
* Weight gain is easy, though fat loss is difficult
* Tends to store fat, which hides muscle gains.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feature Friday - TRX - Who Knew Hanging From Straps Could Be Such Great Exercise?

I am so excited to do this Feature Friday! As a trainer, we see so many pieces of equipment burst on the scene and quickly fade from the industry as people realize it isn't effective. The TRX Suspension Trainer, however, will be a mainstay for the years to come.

This type of training has been used on the most elite athletes, as well as men and women with special needs. In fact, this is the most versatile piece of equipment I have ever used in training my clients.

TRX is a creation of one of our country's elite Navy SEALs and is used throughout the world to train our military for the harshest environment, while preparing their bodies to be pushed to the limit.

The TRX consists of suspended parachute straps, enabling users of all abilities to harness their body weight and create ultimate resistance while limiting stress on joints.

The benefits of Suspension Training reach far beyond the fitness elite. It decreases body fat while increasing strength, core stability, flexibility and balance in everyone. In just 30 minutes, clients will obtain a full-body workout regardless of their starting fitness level.

In fact, the TRX is being used in senior wellness programs because the movements are easy to modify for various fitness levels, and it enables seniors to exercise without the fear of falling.

In fact, I can place a grandmother next to a performance elite and both will receive the same full-body workout in the same amount of time. The TRX is about improving movement, not simply building muscle.

Suspension Training continues to grow in popularity with professional athletes, military personnel and various clients at personal training facilities across the country. However, if you don't live near a fitness facility that offers TRX classes, you can visit the Fitness Anywhere site and order one you can mount in your home, or take to your local park and enjoy the scenery while getting an intense workout.

Here are some pictures taken during a TRX class at rock.

Clients enjoy doing push-ups in a non-traditional manner.

Here I am demonstrating the "row." Clients will feel this particular sequence throughout their entire body, as they pull their full body weight off the ground and into the air.

This class is guaranteed to improve your strength, core stability and overall balance.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wondering Wednesday - Exercises for the Eldery

I know, I know...Wondering Wednesday is late again. However, between training clients and teaching some great new classes we are offering at the studio, time escaped me. So here is the Wondering Wednesday post (albeit 7 hours into Thursday.)

How many times have we heard people refer to the later years in life as 'the golden years'? Well, my mom (and many of her friends) are convinced they only get the years while the doctors get the gold.

I am always telling her that while visits to the doctor will most likely increase, there is a lot she can be doing in the realm of prevention. Simple exercises are more beneficial than not; however, many believe that after a certain age exercise results are lost to an aging body.

I am sure you have seen the commercial with the elderly water skier. You know, the one where they show in the end that she is 86 and you too can water ski if you consume that product. That is an exception. Most men and women will not be water skiing at 86, but rather, they will find they have a few more nagging aches and pains as they age.

A fellow blogger, who recognizes the importance of exercise for her elderly mother asks, "My mom has sciatica.... can you recommend any (easy) exercises? she's 83..."

Like I said before, as people age bones become weaker, bodies more fragile and pains more frequent. Yes, exercise plays a role in minimizing these issues, but doing the correct exercises is crucial to avoiding further injury. Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome are often confused since the sciatic nerveis is directly under the Piriformis muscle. If the Piriformis muscle becomes inflamed (tough glute workout), it often radiates pain like sciatica. Good news - both require the same exercises.

Since Mom is 83, have her warm up - walking around the house, "marching" in place. Then perform some stretches designed to lengthen the glute (butt) and hamstring muscles. She needs to stand more than sit - sitting keeps everything very tight!

While recognizing that aging bodies are more susceptible to injury, it is critical that elderly men and women move. Often they will become sedentary because movement, in all honesty, can be painful. However, the lack of movement makes that initial soreness and fatigue worse. So be sure to have Mom walk. I know we often find ourselves saying things like, "Don't get up Mom, I'll get your tea for you." When in actuality, she needs to get up and move so feel free to offer assistance if it is needed, but remind her that even walking to retrieve something is exercise and it will benefit her greatly.

If you (or any reader) would like a paper copy of some specific exercises that are safe for those in their 'Golden Years,' please email me directly at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Myths Debunked - Stretch 'em like a band of taffy!

We have all heard the many benefits if daily exercise so we tend to make sure that we squeeze in a workout, even if it's a quick one during our lunch hour.

However, what we don't account for is time spent stretching. It is so easy to bolt to the treadmill and run, or get a few quick sets in on our favorite weight machines. In fact, many believe stretching isn't important which can be a very detrimental misconception.

So why is stretching so important?

First and foremost...Injury Prevention! Stretching your muscles makes them more resistant to the stress you are about to place them under. After properly stretching your muscles, you will enjoy an increased range of motion and a decreased rigidity in your muscles.

In addition to injury prevention, stretching helps reduce tension, increase coordination and improve balance.

Unfortunately, many are misinformed about when to stretch. Most believe stretching should occur right when you get to the gym, and before you begin any exercise! That can be an injury inducing misconception. Think of your muscles as taffy. When you stretch cold taffy, it breaks. However, when you stretch warm taffy it is more pliable and receptive to the harsh motion and stress you are placing on it.

So when should you stretch? First, you should warm up with a brisk walk or some other light cardio to raise your body temperature - creating warm taffy. Once your body temperature has risen and your muscles are ready to be stretched, it is important to do some sport specific exercises that will prepare your body for the strenuous workout ahead. For example, if you will be running, be sure to do stretches that target the hip flexors, calves, IT bands and shins.

Now, you have finished your workout routine and are about to head home...STOP! Don't forget to stretch after your workout as well. Stretching after will prevent soreness the following day and aide in injury prevention. Light stretching at the end will also help bring your body back to a resting state.

I realize not everyone has time to embark on an extended stretching routine. Heck, most of us are lucky if we manage to get a daily workout in our schedule. But taking a few extra moments to warm up your muscles, and stretch after a workout, will help you steer clear of injury and get the most out of your fitness routine.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cardio Strip Fit

There's a new class in town for those who feel a little saucy and want to have fun. Rock workout is holding a complimentary strip fit class, Tuesday, July 7th at 5:45 pm. Bring your heels, your sense of adventure and join us for this amazing class taught by Michell Jefferson.

Michell is a former Ram's Cheerleader. But more than that she is a highly accomplished dancer who has performed with such acts as Vanessa Williams, Nelly and Tyrese. Michell will use her extensive performance background to give you the best workout with the most fun.

We recommend that you wear at least 2" heels to get the proper hip movements. Comfy clothes that give you a good range of motion are the best. Don't worry we won't be removing any items of clothing!

Our goal for Tuesday evening is to introduce you to a fun cardio program that doesn't feel like exercise.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I breathe in. I breathe out.

When you lose your breath do you have a tough time getting it back under control? Do you feel like you struggle to take a full (also called deep) breath? When you breathe, which body part moves - just your chest or your entire abdomen and back?

Breathing does two things - provides fresh oxygen so your brain and muscles work properly; and disposes of the carbon dioxide waste (the equivalent to the exhaust from your cars engine). Breathe slowly and fully. With proper breathing, blood cells get the new, oxygen-rich air instead of slightly used, stale air. Experts estimate that proper breathing helps your body eliminate toxins 15 times faster than poor, shallow breathing. You'll be healthier and be able to perform better (mentally and physically) with less stress and will feel more relaxed!

To get the full benefits of good breathing, try the following:

Relax! Lie on your back or sit in an area that is dimly lit - bright lights can be very distracting. Close your eyes. Now, listen to your "regular" breathing for a moment. Don't think about changing it, just acknowledge the feeling. Relax your face, your neck, your cheeks, your jaw, your templates, even your tongue.

In and Out: Practice breathing correctly - in and out of your nose. Take long breaths in (counting to 8 often helps) - don't force it (you shouldn't be able to hear your breath coming in or out). Exhale slowly (count to 8 again). Now you are drawing slow breaths, not gulping in or blowing it out. feel the rhythm of your breathing.

Don't Breathe with Your Chest: Good breathing is done through your lower torso, rather than the upper torso. Each breath should expand your abdominals, your lower back and ribs. Relax your shoulders and try not to breathe with your chest. Put your hands on your stomach and feel the rise and fall. Don't feel it? Think about inhaling starting at your toes! Don't be afraid to "push" out your stomach - soon your stomach will move more freely.

Embrace the Feeling: Feel the good air entering your lungs and feel the stale air leaving your body. "In with the good, out with the bad" is definitely true. Make sure that you exhale as long as you inhale to make sure all the "bad" air is gone. Remember, long slow breaths. Most people take 12-16 breaths per minute. Ideally, it should be 8-10. Now try to make your exhale a little longer than your inhale for a while. Pause for 8 counts after you exhale without taking a breath. Don't worry - your body will force you to breathe as necessary! Think about expanding your lungs, making them as efficient and clear as possible!

[article by Master Trainer Val Strang, with excerpts from Mike Kramer - staff writer for]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wondering Wednesday (Thur Edition)- Eliminating Stomach Flab with Nutrition and Fitness

Wondering Wednesday is here again! As always, I am answering readers' questions and I encourage you to leave a comment with a question or email me directly with any health, fitness or nutrition inquiry.

Weekly Wonder - I know you can't "spot" train, but I've been doing boot camp off and on for about a year now and have seen definite results, especially with my arms. However, I want to lose some "flab" or inches around my mid section. It doesn't ever seem to change and I'm getting a little discouraged with it.

I also need to improve my posture, which would help, but I'm usually carrying around a kid or two or on the floor playing with them, and I tend to resume my poor habits.

I know that my diet/nutrition is probably to blame, but I have a hard time with that as well. I have 3 kids (ages 5, 3 1/2, and 19 months) and the second I walk in from boot camp as my husband is walking out to go to work, they are running circles around me to eat, play, help with this, change a diaper, etc - I seem to just eat what I can as fast as I can and its not always healthy and then I'm just hungry all the time.

Answer: Flab around the middle – yes, posture exercises make that diminish! Make sure you perform two to three back exercises for every front exercise… when hanging on the floor with the kids, do some forearm planks (keep your shoulders pulled back and waist band lifted).

To lose “flab” - exercise is hugely important, but nutrition is about 75% of it! When the kids are resting, or anytime you make dinner – cook in batches. Make extra chicken breasts – slice them up, put a serving size in a baggie and store in fridge (lasts about 5 days); buy the salad pre-made and presto…instant healthy lunch! Breakfast? Scramble an egg or two while making the kids’ breakfast – it only take a minute. Hard boil some eggs (I do a dozen at a time) for snacks.

NEVER, NEVER CLEAN YOUR CHILDREN’S PLATES! That's the worse habit a Mom can have -and we have all done it.

There is a reason the airlines announce to place the oxygen mask on yourself before you place one on your child…cuz if momma ain't healthy, everyone suffers. It’s ok to tell JR he has to wait for you to do something with him while you make your salad; children need to know that you value yourself too!