Trainer Blog

Moving Forward

Katie’s Corner –  Normally, I try to stay away from celebrity gossip, not for lack of interest (to be completely honest), but simply for lack of time. However, when one of our fabulous clients recommended an article that featured actress Kerri Washington talking about her post-baby body, I took notice. In the September issue of SELF, the star talks about getting rid of the idea of trying to obtain her pre-baby body, but rather embracing her body as it is now, because of–not in spite of–giving birth. The reason this topic excites me isn’t due to the fact that Kerri Washington and many other women, celebrity or not, are demonstrating their empowerment as women, but because they accepting themselves exactly where they are in life.

Frequently, I hear clients refer to how fit they were in high school (which could have been 30 years ago) or what they weighed when they got married. They highlight different points in their lives that were pre-marriage, pre-baby, pre-career, pre-traumatic event, or pre-injury. I understand the desire to return to those “glory days,” but I am all for encouraging a person to celebrate themselves as they are now and tweak the things that they don’t feel comfortable with in a healthy and realistic way. The ideal is to move forward, since living in the past accomplishes little. I know that I wouldn’t want to go back to the naive and biased mental state I had in high school, as I feel I have developed immensely as a person since. Similarly, I feel much more fit and health conscious now than I was then, and I’ve gotten there through redefining my own awareness of what goals are attainable for me in my present body.

Your challenge this week is to think about what you would like to see yourself accomplish physically over the next few months, setting your goals high, but also being realistic. Move forward. You have a plethora of options available to you no matter how many babies, jobs, injuries, relationships, or stressful things have happened throughout the years. And of course, if you need help
moving forward, we are always here to help position you for success on your new path.

Acknowledging–Not Finding–Your Confidence

Katie’s Corner – “You can’t teach it. You can’t learn it. You can’t buy it. You already have it.” This was one of the statements a client made to me last week when we were having an in-depth discussion about having confidence in light of, and in opposition to, insecurity. The conversation began as an analysis of feeling self-assured in the gym with this voice in the back of your head that people are seemingly judging you and your abilities. This idea that confidence isn’t learned, or taught, or bought simplifies the idea that you can own your confidence and feel empowered by what you are able to do throughout the day, and especially during your workouts.

Call to mind what you do with confidence on a daily basis; these tasks and experiences don’t have to be momentous. It takes confidence to get out of bed every morning, to take a shower and get dressed, to go to work, to manage a household. Many people are not capable of doing these things, for various reasons, and I would like you to recognize the confidence that you have inside of you to help you accomplish these seemingly normal and mundane tasks.

Now, countering the challenge from Katie’s Corner last week, think about where you feel confident—or have gained confidence—in your fitness regimen. Have you gained flexibility in your shoulders? Is your core stronger than it was 2 months ago? Are you able to get further down in your push-up than when you started? Are you able to spin for a full 45 minutes without feeling like you’re going pass out? Wherever you recognize this confidence in yourself, identify what about that exercise or activity gives you such a boost. The goal is to channel these endorphins into areas where you feel less secure and begin to believe that you can, in fact, accomplish this too, and one day feel confident in it, along with the plethora of other things you can do well. As my client so eloquently said it, “Think of confidence as a flicker of light inside of you. We all have that light, and it’s just a matter of how bright we let it shine.”

What was your moment?

In a recent study, 77% of individuals who successfully lost weight reported a triggering effect that preceded their accompanying weight loss. This type of motivator is called a precipitating event. In sports, they are signified by a swing in momentum typically due to an unexpected happening. In life, these events are often much more profound. We all know that smoking kills, yet millions still smoke. We all know that obesity kills, yet we still overeat. Why? We get so consumed in our daily lives that it makes it impossible to focus on the little things. We forget to take care of ourselves. We forget to learnhow to take care of ourselves. Until that moment. It could be something tragic, a ‘life is too short’ moment. It could be getting picked last for a game of 5 on 5 with your buddies. It could be waking up one day and finally staring down years and years of poor decisions and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Everyone has their moments. It’s all about how you handle them and what you choose to do thereafter. It all starts with the ability to learn, and the desire to take action.

So I ask you…What was your defining moment?

Insecure Much?

Katie’s Corner – As many of you know, Mindy Theroux has started teaching many of her Pilates classes, previously based out of her home studio, at 50/50, and we are adding several more in the Fall. We are thrilled about this partnership with Mindy, as she has a wealth of knowledge about the body that is second to none, as well as thoughtful and intentional ways of communicating with her students, helping them to gain that knowledge of their own bodies. Mindy plans to vacation in Florida for the Winter months, and so she needs someone to fill her role when she is gone. I am humbled and grateful that she has asked me to teach in her absence, and we have been doing Pilates-based sessions together one or two times per week.

I have become so used to being the teacher, that I find it very challenging to be the student, learning strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, and compensations that my body has made for several years. My feet turn in, my right side takes over when my left feels weak, my core is strong, my pectoral muscles are very
tight which is causing my shoulders to pull forward, etc. I think I know my body pretty well, but I’m discovering Pilates is much more mindful of practice than I originally assumed. I am truly enjoying it, though I also recognize my lack of confidence–in the placement of my body, how I look when I’m doing an exercise, in the jumbled
connection between my brain and my body while doing an exercise .

This week, as you do your workouts, think about the insecurities that arise when you are exercising . Do you have a sense of humor about these insecurities, or is it something that really gets you down? If it’s the latter, I would suggest making room to accept yourself in whatever capacity you are able to do the exercise, and if it’s not quite at the place you would like it to be, set a goal around it. If your hips sag when you do planks, set a goal to find that straight-line plank. If you are not able to hold 80rpms on the bike with a resistance of 7 for longer than 30 seconds, try to increase your time to 45seconds over the next month. Meanwhile, try to find humor and accept your flaws and imperfections. We’ve all got them, so recognize them, accept them, andchange them. My hope is that I will be a suitable substitute for Mindy while she’s away; meanwhile, I will continue to learn and grow in the Pilates practice, imperfections and all.

Human Connection and Compassion

Katie’s Corner

Two years ago, while walking around Northampton by myself, I came upon a homeless woman, who was asking for money, with a child by her side. Now, someone asking us for money is really nothing new, no matter where we are. People find themselves in dire straits, for whatever reason, and humble themselves to ask others for the change passersby have in their pockets. To be honest, for my own reasons, I don’t usually give money to people, and in this day and age, I’m likely to carry a card rather than cash. So was the case when this woman in Northampton asked me for money, and I told her that I had nothing to give. She thanked me and told me to have a nice day.

As I walked away from her, I couldn’t shake the look in her eyes. It wasn’t a passive look of asking for a handout; it was a genuine display of desperation and dejection—one that said, “I don’t know how this happened. I’m not supposed to be here.” In those quick seconds, I thought about how hard it must be for her to ask strangers for money with her child looking on, knowing that in most cases, parents only want to be a shining example of the lives they want their children to lead. I thought about how she likely grew up wanting to be a teacher or veterinarian or astronaut, not living on the streets. And I thought about how, at my most difficult moments, those people who showed compassion and acceptance of me were what helped me through. And in that instant, I asked myself what I could do for this person to provide some sense of reprieve in what I assumed to be a difficult moment in her life.

I turned around, walked back to her, and said, “Can I give you a hug?” Without hesitation, she agreed and she opened up her arms. As I hugged her, she broke down, sobbing and shuddering. I made sure to hold on tight, communicating nonverbally that it was safe for her to place her burden on me for that short period of time. It was probably a good three minutes before she let go of me, and wiping the tears from her eyes, she expressed her appreciation. I said, “I hope that helped.” “It did,” she said.

I want to be clear that I am not sharing this story with you for praise, as I can be as critical as the next person. But in this case, I was able to be open to what turned out to be a real human connection, and I am still grateful for it to this day. My challenge this week for you is to take (or make) an opportunity to offer kindness and compassion to another person who you may suspect needs it. Stranger, colleague, friend, enemy—doesn’t matter. Because really, we’re all trying to do the best we can in this crazy, mixed up world. Don’t shy away from human connection because it’s scary, especially when you have a chance to help another. It’ll leave a mark on the other person, yes, but also on you. Hey, you could even still be reminiscing about it two years later.

My Rainbow through the Storm

Yesterday, it rained. Hard. It reminded me of the kind of downpour you’d see in Texas—steady-going for at least an hour. During the storm, I had a little bit of a break before my Tabata class, so I figured I’d go see my mom for a little while. I ran out to my car, trying to run in between the raindrops so I wouldn’t get completely drenched, got in and turned on the windshield wipers as high as they’d go. I was feeling inconvenienced, that is, until I spotted a double rainbow right in the middle of Route 9. It was beautiful, and a rare sight for this area, I feel.

As I stepped into the assisted living facility where Momma lives, I felt a little apprehension, which is not uncommon. Many of you know that my mother has been exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s for the past eight years, and has declined in performing many day-to-day functions. She’s still got her spunk, but my apprehension lies in knowing that I’m still going to experience a good bit of pain when I see her, knowing what a strong, independent woman she once was. As many times as it’s happened, it still tugs on the heart strings when she repeats the same questions, sometimes several times in a short period of time, and each time I answer as if it’s the first time she’s asked me. Other reminders of the disease are difficult, too, like when her clothes are mismatched or she tries to put things on backwards. Momma was never a fashionista, but she was always put together. And as the day-to-day tasks become increasingly challenging for her to accomplish, the more of a reality this is for me.

But of course, without rain, there can’t be rainbows, right? Yesterday, I was sitting next to her with my arms wrapped tightly around her, and I said, “Momma, sometimes I never want to let you go.” And she said, “Katie, I never want to let you go all the time. I love you so much, I can hardly see straight.” And there it was—my rainbow through the storm.

We all have our own storms going on, some that are light drizzles and some that are full on deluges. But more often than not, there is a rainbow mixed in somewhere, and it’s vital that we pay attention to its appearance in our lives. That’s my challenge to you this week: look for the rainbow in whatever you have concerning you right now. Or, if it doesn’t manifest right away, trust that it will. And, on the slight chance that you’re just not ready to see the rainbow right now, make sure you stay open to a future sighting. I’m not promising any pots of gold, here, but my sincerest hope is to offer a little light to your path.

No Time to Workout?

The number one reason why you don’t exercise is that you don’t have time.

At least that’s what you tell yourself.

I know we are all busy. Between getting to and from work, balancing responsibilities and having time for yourself, there’s little left over for workouts.

With summer in full swing, your busy schedule is sure to get even busier. There will be vacations, cookouts and family gatherings. It’s no wonder that exercise quickly takes a backseat to summer activities.

You don’t have to succumb to weight gain this summer. Escape the time crunch excuse in three easy steps:

Step One: Schedule Your Workouts: You’ve heard this before, and it makes so much sense. If you treat your exercise time with the importance of a work meeting then you’d never skip a workout and you’d be in amazing shape.

While the scheduling concept is brilliant in its simplicity, you have to put it into practice to reap the benefits. Pull out your calendar and a pen. Don’t laugh, I’m serious! Just do it. If you want to get into shape it starts with committing to a revised schedule with a set exercise time.

Identify three 45-minute time slots and mark them on your calendar. That is when you’ll exercise.

Remember this: if the thought that you should exercise this week is floating around in your head, but you haven’t anchored it down to a specific time and date, then it will quickly disappear.

Step Two: Get the Most from Each Minute: The days of endless, mind numbing cardio are over. A great workout can take place in under an hour, when done correctly. The idea is to burn more calories each minute. This is done through short, intense bursts of exercise.

Use the following three tips to bring your routine up to the next level:

1. Be Unstable: Use your entire body, and target your core, by performing exercises that engage stabilizing muscles. To do this use an exercise ball, a balance board, a balance disk, or you could simply stand on one leg.

2. Add Resistance: The more resistance that you incorporate with your routine translates into higher intensity and more calories burned. Some ideas for adding resistance include: carrying dumbbells while doing lunges, carrying weights up and down the stairs, or simply using a resistance band (great for traveling) for a quick, dynamic upper body sequence!

3. Use Intervals: Interval training is an amazing tool for creating short yet effective workouts. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Interval training is simply alternating between different short bursts of activity.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to focus on your legs and abs, all while getting an effective cardiovascular workout. This would be a great, simple interval routine for your goals:

  • Lunge while biceps curl, 15-20 repetitions/side
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Squat while pressing dumbbells overhead, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Crunches on an exercise ball, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Leg raises off the end of an exercise bench or from the ground up, 15-20 repetitions

Step Three: Twice the Results in Half the Time: What if I told you that we have a proven way to deliver twice the fitness results in half the time? It’s simple really… When you attempt to lose weight or meet a fitness goal on your own, the odds are stacked against you. Sure, you could do it over time – but it’s a long and trying road. A road lined with detours that threaten to undermine your progress.

When you start a program with us, you suddenly have the upper hand on weight loss… You have one of our Health & Fitness Specialists in your corner, coaching you each step of the way, keeping you accountable to workouts inside and outside of the gym and giving you that dose of encouragement went the going gets tough.

Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will put exercise firmly on your calendar, and results squarely in your future.

Creating Myself

Katie’s Corner

I recently came across a quote that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” When dietician, Michele LaRock, gave her Spring Nutrition Series earlier this year, she offered the advice of setting a goal and making decisions that would only support that goal, rather than sabotage it. Since that talk, I ask myself several times a day, “Will this activity/mindset/food/behavior get me closer to my end goal?” If the answer i no, then I choose a path that leads me in the right direction. I have set my own goals about where I want to go, who I want to go there with, and how I want to get there. They are simple and uncomplicated and perfect for the life I wish to lead. Now it’s just a matter of making decisions that support those goals.

For many years, I sort of let life happen to me rather than be an active participant. It didn’t help matters that I didn’t really know what kind of life I wanted, but once I figured out what would help me make a great life for myself, I decided to try for it. I tried, I tried, and I tried, and by golly, it’s worked. I have always had a drive to achieve greatness (and was open to whatever that looked like for me), but I’ve finally learned how to focus my efforts into the greatness I’ve sought, with the help of many, many others, no doubt. I dreamed big, and now I am surrounded every day by the most amazing people, who work their asses off for the health of their body and mind. Every day, I strive to do great things, and many times those things come to fruition and I get to see them manifest. Don’t get me wrong, I am and always will be a risk taker. I’m now, however, less interested in experimenting with life and more interested in grabbing it by the handles and taking it out for a spin.

My challenge to you this week is to think about a way you can actively create and develop one aspect of your life, big or small. Being ardently responsible for how our own lives turn out can admittedly be a scary thing, but the reward in it always outweighs the risk. Watching life pass you by does not make the end result of whatever comes your way fulfilling. However, working hard for that end result does. So are you going to let life pass you by, or are you going to be an active participant in its journey? It starts with a simple choice.

Wait, You Read My ‘Corner?’

Katie’s Corner –

When I first began writing Katie’s Corner, I figured it would be an insignificant way for me to get my thoughts—either from the past week or things I’ve been sitting on for a while—down on paper, hoping that some may find some value in what I share. I imagined by disclosing my real-life stories, insecurities, faults, and experience, others would find ways that Katie’s Corner would apply to their own lives. However, an overwhelming number of you have told me you look forward reading the column every week and that my words were exactly what you needed to hear in that moment, and I have to say, it is truly a humbling experience. Many of you, who I look up to and who are accomplished in your own careers and lives, have told me you are faithful readers of “The Corner”, which I must admit is simultaneously intimidating and empowering.

It’s a little weird wrapping my mind around the idea that what I write can be inspirational to others, but I think it’s important to take this opportunity to point out how much of the time we can be an inspiration to others without even realizing it. For example, you pick up a piece of trash, and it can inspire a person to take part in an organized clean-up of a local park. You run your first 5K, and your child runs the next one with you. You smile at a person on the street walking past, and they smile at the next person they pass. The point is, through small acts, we can move others in big ways.

Your challenge this week is simple, and it doesn’t require any real action on your part. All I ask is that you realize and digest that you affect others in purely positive ways. People find value in what you do, the way you act, the attitude you choose. Know that what you bring to the table, no matter the perceived significance is real and influences people all around you in ways you may never know. Think about it. What you do matters. Now isn’t that effin’ wonderful?

Find more Katie’s Corner articles at this link.

Off the Beaten Path

Though it hasn’t always felt like it this year, summer is upon us! It’s a time when routines are broken and spontaneity is necessary after a full year of predictability. Vacations and barbeques and staying out late are perks to the warm weather, especially after the winter we endured, but this also means routines are broken, which can throw our quests for health out the window. Many people establish their own routines with outdoor workouts, which is wonderful, as we have some of the best outdoor sporting in the country. However, many of us take a few days off of working out and eating right and then we have a hard time fitting it back into our schedules.

It’s important to give yourself a little bit of a break and not beat yourself up about not making time for the gym or eating out more than you should. However, it’s just as important to establish some sort of routine around this strange schedule that only occurs for a couple of months during the year. Instead of giving up on any routine, create a modified nutrition and eating schedule for yourself, which may include two days of eating out, rather than your normal one during the other months of the year. However, when you eat out, try to make healthier choices that don’t squash all of your efforts. Put sauces on the side, and only have a couple bites of the neighbor’s award-winning potato salad.

In terms of working out, you may not be able to hit the gym as much as you normally would. Instead of feeling bad about your inability to make it to as many classes, figure out something you can stick to and then supplement with home workouts. After all, I’ve seen so many of you accomplish so much since January, and we need to keep that momentum going.

At the same time, a change in routine is also the perfect time to try something you haven’t yet and maybe even to construct new routines. Have you heard people rave about the barre classes? Have you always wondered what it would feel like to punch a punching bag? Give Raise the Barre and Cardio Kickboxing a try. Mix it up! And if you need help in choosing what’s best for you, we’re always here to offer advice. Just don’t give up what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.