Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's About To Get Personal

It is strange that after all this time talking about fitness and health that I never really talked about hiring a personal trainer.  Not all Sassy girls can afford a trainer, I know.  But for those who can drop a couple hundred dollars on a pair of shoes maybe hiring a professional for a few sessions just to be sure that you are doing things right is a good idea.  
If you are going to hire a personal trainer you need to understand a few things.  
As a personal trainer I am well aware that sometimes people hire me because they think that having a trainer is a magic bullet. After all J-LO has a trainer and every other sexy Hollywood celebrity has one so that must be the answer.  Some people think “If I hire a trainer I will look just like they do.” Well the truth is that you still have to do the work. Your trainer is there to guide you and help you get closer to your goals, but don’t expect magic to happen if YOU aren’t committing 100%.
Thinking that you can get in shape only because you hired a trainer is just as silly as thinking that a gym membership is the path to fitness even though you never go.

To make sure you are being a good client here are some things that will set you up for success
  • Pay attention to what you are doing and try not to chit chat too much. Honestly your trainer does not need to hear about the adorable song your three year old sang while going to the bathroom. She is also not a babysitter so don’t assume you can kill two birds with one stone. If you want a great workout make sure your child is with someone who can look after them while you sweat.
  • Give at least 24 hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule and if you don’t realize that you are responsible for paying your trainer. The most inconsiderate thing you as a client can do is not value someone else’s time
  • If you have questions, write them down and bring them to your session--you'll spend less time talking and more time working out.
  • If you have a problem with your trainer, address it immediately.
  • Don't interrupt your trainer when she's with a client. Wait until she's finished before approaching her.
  • Come prepared and that means make sure you have eaten, have a towel, water and workout clothing.

Being considerate and not treating your trainer like she or he is a member of your staff will go a long way.  Your mom was right when she told you to “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Four Habits of Highly Effective People

One of the main reasons that I began this blog is because each and every day I hear the most insane ideas about ways to lose weight and to get in shape.  Maybe I am super in tune to this but I hear it everywhere I go.  I hear about dangerous diets on the bus and the subway.  I hear about it from people sitting next to me in restaurants.  I just want to go up to these strangers and say something like "Excuse me, I couldn't help but over hear what you were saying.  As a personal trainer for ten years I have to tell you that what you are talking about is ludacris, ill informed, not affective and dangerous."  Since that is technically a faux pas I took to writing this blog.  How lucky am I that so many of you have been reading this and taking the tips. By the way thanks to all of you who have written to me with your success stories, it means a lot.  
Today I want to make sure you don't take drastic measures and make mistakes if you are looking to lose a few lbs.
So to avoid making common mistake here are the top four worst ways to lose weight.

4. I HATE to Exercise? Do I have to?
Sure just going on a diet will help the number on the scale to drop but you will lose muscle mass not just fat. If you don't use the muscle you have your body will just convert the unused muscle for fuel to sustain functions for daily activity. If you compliment diet with exercise you are letting your body know that muscle is needed and it will have to turn to stored fat for fuel.

3. Abusing Laxatives
Don't do it sassy girl. Why would you choose to take a pill that violently forces your body to rid itself? If you eat a balanced diet your body does it naturally. Plus laxatives make the food pass through your body so fast your body can't absorb all the nutrients.

2. Pill Popper
Do you really think that popping a diet pill will give you the license to eat a four cheese pizza, a pint of ice cream and you will still lose weight? No! If that worked everyone would look like a Victoria's Secret model.

1. Starving
Starving yourself will NOT make your body burn fat and you will actually gain weight. If you aren't fueling your body it will save the fat for emergencies and the body will start using muscles first. When you starve yourself you are sending your body a signal to hold on to stored fat for fuel. Try taking in a little less calories that way you can trick your body to burn fat little by little.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My First Trip To The GYRO

On a trip to my hubby's home town last weekend I tried a new fitness regimen that I had been hearing so much about. It’s called Gyrotonic and it is such an interesting form of exercise that time passed by very quickly. Gyrotonics allows of fuller range of motion than almost any other exercise, so I had to check it out.
I visited a gem of a fitness center called Kinesphere which is located in Lee, Massachusetts. I had a private session to introduce me to the basic gyro moves. First I did things that warmed up my spine that had fun names like the wave and the stir and spiral. Fun right? Well they felt good too! My spine was feeling awake so it was time for more.
Next I got to play with the piece of equipment that gyrotonic is famous for The Handle Unit. I pushed, pulled and stirred the handles and felt every muscle in my arms at one time plus my core was totally involved because of the forward bending and arching of the spine to perform the moves. Awesome right?
We finished class with the pulleys. Each strap is attached to an individual pulley so that means you have to use equal strength in each limb to move them at the same time. Most times machines at the gym don’t allow you to isolate body parts and the stronger muscle ends up doing a majority of the work.
My favorite part of the whole experience was at the end I left the studio feeling inches taller than the hour before when I walked in. Well, that’s good because the purpose of gyro is to create space and lengthen the body. I did enjoy the class but to be honest Gyro didn’t provide me with the same stimulation that spinning, aerobics or yoga does. I will do it again but not as the only form of exercise I do. It’s great to add in addition to other things. It’s a great way to rebuild the body so I recommend it for post physical therapy.

On a side note these two songs are recent additions to my workout playlist. They are fun jams and have a great beat to keep your body movin’ and groovin’. Put them on your ipod for an instant dose of sassy!

Brokenhearted by Karmin-Hello
Payphone by Maroon 5

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Snotty Isn't Sassy

Today’s post was inspired by the downright rude behavior that I encounter frequently. Just because you spend a lot of money to work out at my gym doesn’t mean you have the right to treat the staff and the other clients poorly.

As a fitness instructor I have taught and trained at posh fitness centers on New York's Upper East Side, and I have taught at ten dollar a month gyms in Harlem.  
It seems that the one thing that many of my clients and students share whether rich or poor is a disrespectful and entitled attitude.  
Day in and day out I hear complaints like ‘It’s too hot!”  “The fans are blowing on me.”  “I don’t like the music can you change it?”  “Leave me alone.  I DO NOT WANT TO BE TOUCHED!”
It used to drive me crazy and I used to try to try to solve each problem as it arose  I would adjust the fan, place someone in different spots in the room, change the music and bend over backward to try an appease each and every person in the room.  But after being constantly annoyed by this behavior I realized that some people just like to complain.  I as realized that by giving grease to the squeaky wheel I was taking time and focus away from the rest of the class, a silent majority who may have been OK with the temperature or the music.  
Some people seem to act like they aren't participating if they can’t gripe about something.
Now more often than not when a student is rude, pushy, whiny and disrespectful I am more likely to simply ignore them.  Losing my cool with a client is not OK.  What I try to do is to make a simple and polite  statement (off the mic of course) such as “The temperature (or volume) will stay at this setting for today, but I’m more than happy to discuss your concerns after class.”
If you too experience the act of rudeness in your daily life try telling the complainer why you are doing what you are and what the obvious reasons are. They may or may not accept them but it will help you keep your cool and you will look like the bigger person.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Time Crunch? Cardio or Weights?

When you have no time skipping your workout is not an option.  When time is of the essence what should you do to get the best workout in the shortest time, cardio or weights? The answer, circuit training.  With circuit training you go from one exercise to the next using resistance that is relatively challenging to downright heavy with minimal rest in between sets.  This type of training provides the “after burn” that is so beneficial. If you workout harder and more intense the longer your body will be in a higher metabolic rate. Meaning when your workout is over you will be burning calories at a higher rate then if you didn’t workout that day. It’s not a huge number but over time it adds up! Basically you need to be challenging yourself so you can get that after burn. The more intense the better. Use weights that are heavy and uncomfortable to get your metabolism sky high.

Now be honest with yourself. Is time your issue? Probably not. If you’ve got time to scroll around on the internet time is not your issue, it’s probably motivation. Well how does one get and stay motivated? Well, summer is coming and that means you can’t cover up with bulky sweaters and coats. Or, enlist a friend that will hold you accountable for your workouts. Maybe posting a pic of you in kick ass shape somewhere that you will always see it will do the trick. Find something that will work for you and kick things up a notch.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fat Talk

"I feel fat"
"My belly is so big I look like I'm pregnant"
"My thighs are huge"

I hear these all the quotes all the time while talking with my girlfriends over lunch, at the gym watching TV or looking into the mirror.  We all say and think these negative things but in reality doing so is not helping matters. We are all guilty of reinforcing our impossibly high standards to be super thin when in fact being thin isn't all its cracked up to be.  Being overly critical of your body can lead to depression...not sassy! When we talk over and over again about what we loathe about our bodies it can lead to self hate.
Your body image and your views on how much your scale should say comes from many sources like your significant other, family, friends, even your "friends" on facebook.  But nothing more then the media and the impossibly high all be it photo-shopped standards that they set.  
We can work to fix this and make life more tolerable.  It’s not too hard.  
Try controlling and changing the negative talk. If you are chatting with your friends and fat talk starts try redirecting the convo or maybe even excuse yourself for the moment.  That move may not win you any popularity points but it sure as heck will help to improve your body image. Or trying to avoid looking at images that reinforce a skinny body being beautiful.  This is only one of the many reasons not to waste your time and money on trashy magazines.  Personally I find strong, fit bodies much more appealing than the "I'm so skinny I look like I've been starving myself for years" look. Think about how awesome your body is right now, what it can do instead of what you wish it was.

You are more than the number on the scale and in order to be sassy you have to love yourself.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rainy Day Exercise Tips

Since working out is a priority for me I was planning my workouts for the weekend. I am about 2.5 hours from home so going to my fav fitness class isn’t going to happen. I watched the weather report as I was packing yesterday and the outlook was sun and warm temps all weekend. AWESOME I thought I’ll go outside for a run. Well I woke up this morning to a rainy and crummy day. My enthusiasm to workout has dropped. I guess now I will have to stay inside but honestly the weather is not helping my get up and go attitude.
I know that what I feel is not uncommon but here are some things I do to make sure I can still get my activity on.

1. Are you in a house or building with stairs? I do 30 "sets" of stairs when it's raining outside, in slow and fast intervals, to fun music. On a few sets, take two and three at a time.

2. How dirty is your living quarters? On some bad-weather days, I designate an hour for serious housecleaning--scrubbing sinks and tubs, vacuuming and mopping floors, taking heavy things from one place to another, etc. By the time I'm done, it's a 60-minute workout and my house is clean.

The moral of the story is a sassy girl doesn’t allow for obstacles. Plan on working out 5 days a week rain or shine. Just pick an activity and do it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back Pain?

Before one of my classes today a student was telling me about back pain she has been experiencing after spending many hours sitting at work. For so many of us the majority of our time is spent sitting at a desk, sitting in front of the TV and sleeping.  Getting rest is fine.  But it doesn’t take long for your muscles begin to atrophy and that means you get weaker and the chances you will injure yourself are likely.

If and when you do injure yourself there are a few things that you will want to do.  One of the most important things you can do to help yourself recover from back pain is to stay mobile. Take a walk even if its a short one just move. The worst thing you can do for yourself is nothing. Here are a few other things you can do to be proactive about your injury.

Ice Ice Baby: For the first 2 days you can apply a cold compress to the area to reduce the amount of blood flow to that particular body part. Remember not to apply a ice pack directly to the skin. You could get freezer burn. Put a washcloth between you and the compress. After two days try using a heating pad on the affected area. Heat can reduce muscle tension.
Massage: Sure pain-relieving ointments feel great but they are just skin irritants. What really works is to manipulate the muscle with massage. You can use gels or creams but take the time to rub it into your skin.
Pain Pain Go Away: Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are good for a short term relief of pain but be sure to read the label and don’t overdose. Oh and go see a Doc to get things checked out.

I know we all spend a lot of time working on the abs but to ensure that your back is healthy make sure to do the following exercises EVERY time you work your abs:

Spinal Rotation:
  • Lie on your back (on the mat or on the floor) with arms outstretched at shoulder level. Bend both legs.
  • Slowly, drop your knees to the right until the right knee is touching the floor. While dropping your knees, keep your shoulder blades flat on the floor. However, don't force the stretch. Hold for 8-10 seconds and repeat with the other side.

Back Extensions
  • Lie down on a mat or carpet with your stomach to the floor, keep your arms and hands flat at your sides and legs extended like in a standing position, but lying down.
  • Slowly raise yourself up from your torso (using your lower back muscles) as far as you can go but do not over-extend yourself (basically at a 45 degree angle). Just to the point where you feel comfortable and you are receiving the maximum benefit.  Hold this position for about 3 seconds.
  • Now slowly lower yourself back to the floor in the same manner.
  • Don't forget to breathe. Inhale as you raise yourself, exhale as you lower yourself.
  • Do about 2 slow sets of 12-16 reps, 2 to 3 times per week.

And of course be sure to see a doctor.

Being proactive when pain hits is a sure fire way to stay sassy!