Exercise and the Holidays

It’s no mystery that it’s easy to gain a few pounds over the holidays. Between the family gatherings, the parties with friends the extra calories can add up quickly, not to mention the harder it can be to workout.

This holiday season, I’d like to not only challenge you to make good choices at the gatherings, but to stick with your regular workout schedule. Here’s why…

Stress Relief

I think most of us can agree that while the holidays are certainly a whole lot of fun, they put additional stress on our lives. Between preparing for parties, decorating the house, shopping in crowded stores and dealing with the challenges the weather often brings, it’s no wonder we feel more stressed. Exercise is a great way to relieve that stress. Not only will it feel good to be active, exercise releases ‘happy’ endorphins that contribute to stress relief.

It’s the ME Time you Need

Holiday schedules are crazy. Invitations from family, friends on top of school and office parties can make your social calendar seem like it’s on steroids! With all that socialization it’s so important to take time for ‘YOU.’ Don’t miss out on a workout because you don’t have time. You owe it to yourself to spend the time necessary to make yourself a better you. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, put in 30 minutes at home with some body weight exercises and simple cardio bursts.

Counter the Calories

It’s no mystery that workouts don’t burn nearly the amount of calories that many think that they do, however, regular exercise helps you to have more lean muscle mass and a healthy metabolism. Both of these things contribute to more efficiently burning calories even when you aren’t exercising. Dropping your workouts at the same time as you increase your intake of calories is the perfect equation for watching the number on the scale rise.

If you’re off on Friday stop in and see me at CustomFit at 218 E. St Charles in Lombard. I’ll be teaching PiYo at 7:00am and a Power Lunch class focused on core and stretching at 12:15pm. It will be a great time and a good break from your Black Friday shopping!

Enjoy without Excess

Thanksgiving is just about upon us and we all know the feeling of eating way too much.

This year I’d like to challenge you to make a conscious effort to think through your choices and instead of feeling like a stuffed turkey yourself after the meal, feel satisfied with a delicious meal that you enjoyed with family and friends.

Here’s are three easy ways you can keep the calories and portions down while enjoying the delicious feast…

Survey the Spead

Thanksgiving dinner is always a meal that has more options than any of us need. I like to take a glimpse of all of the choices and then decide what I am going to add to my plate before I start scooping. Thanksgiving is a special meal, but also includes many dishes that are served throughout the year. For instance, mashed potatoes and gravy are also served with a number of other meals, like roast beef, so I generally skip right over the potatoes and choose a small serving of homemade stuffing instead. It’s something that we have less often and is a treat for me.

Watch Your Portions

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean your helpings need to be big to make it special. Be mindful of your portions, and remember that a scoop of this and a scoop of that adds up very quickly…before you know it your plate needs sideboards and you feel like you need bigger pants. This Thanksgiving Serving infographic gives some great guidelines for portions of popular Thanksgiving dishes.

Slow Down

Take the time to enjoy your meal and the friends and family sitting around the table. We rush through so many meals in life because we are short on time. Thanksgiving should be a time where we take the time to appreciate not only the company we are keeping but the flavors and richness of the food. Chew slowly, chew well and think about how your food tastes and why you enjoy it. Thinking through the actual taste of food can help you more quickly ‘quench’ your cravings than shoveling it in and needing a second helping.

So this Thanksgiving, choose the dishes that are most special to you, be mindful of your portion sizes and enjoy the food. But most of all, enjoy the people you are celebrating the holiday with, relationships and memories are the biggest blessings of holidays and you never have to worry about controlling the portion of your love you share.

What is PiYo?

Ever since I went for my certification back in August I’ve seen many puzzled looks and heard the question, “What IS PiYo?”

Easily answered, (but not quite a clear indication of what it is), “It’s my favorite new workout!”

So here’s a better explanation of what it is:

PiYo gives you the muscle-sculpting and core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of Yoga. But don’t for a second think you won’t sweat in this class because it’s all done at an intensity that helps you burn fat with low-impact moves. You’ll burn calories, tone muscles, work on balance and core strength all while getting a great stretch.

I know what you might be thinking, that’s a great marketing-focused explanation but what can I really expect from a PiYo class?

Muscle-Sculpting and Core-Firming

I’ve been doing Pilates for a few years now. Before I started I didn’t really understand the ‘hype’ or how it was really going to help me. I was used to high-intensity, heart-pounding workouts that left me drenched in sweat and a little breathless. How could lying on a mat be a good workout and what benefits could I possibly see from it? I quickly learned that just because the class was performed on a mat didn’t mean it was easy.

Pilates help to raise my body awareness. I learned how to truly engage my muscles, especially my core, by performing the exercises with control. Pilates requires a great deal of concentration and awareness of the flow of movement. I began to notice great changes in my core and before I knew it I was signing up to be certified as an instructor.

Over the years, as both an instructor and personal trainer, I have seen Pilates benefit many clients. A weakened core often leads to a strained areas of the back and as they became more aware of their core and began to build muscles, many experienced relief from chronic back pain.

Strength and Flexibility

I’ve personally struggled over the years to find a Yoga instructor, or type of Yoga for that matter, that I truly enjoyed. As I mentioned before, I was accustomed to very high-energy classes, and I had great difficulty slowing myself down for Yoga. While I felt like Pilates had a lot of movement and flow, I felt Yoga concentrated more on holding poses and building strength and flexibility through those exercises.

Now, just because I wasn’t able to make a connection with Yoga, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the benefits. I admire the complexity of many of the moves and the dedication it takes to build the strength and flexibility necessary to be successful.

Anyone who has regularly worked out has certainly done a version of the plank. And I don’t have to tell you how challenging a plank can be to every muscle group – this is just one example of a Yoga-based exercise designed to increase strength.

A great example for increasing flexibility is the stretch where you cross an ankle over one knee and draw the knee towards your chest. This is also Yoga-based and very commonly used in many exercise classes.

Intense Low-Impact Moves

Our joints take a beating so a workout that takes the pounding and the pressure off of them is not only refreshing but highly recommended. This is especially true for those who suffer from joint problems. I see it time and time again with clients who have difficulty with high-impact exercises and even moves like static lunges or squats.

I’ve created a number of modifications for clients over the years and I can say without a doubt it is possible for low-impact moves to be performed at an intensity that increases the heart rate and offers a challenge. Just because it’s low impact doesn’t mean it’s easy and it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t sweat.

Join Me!

Without a doubt every PiYo class will help you burn calories, tone muscles, work on both balance and core strength all while giving you a great stretch.

Ready to give it a try? I’d love to have you in class and you have two options to join me:

  • Wednesdays at 7:00pm
  • Fridays at 6:00am

Both classes are offered at CustomFit located at 218 E. St Charles in Lombard. If you’re a member of CustomFit, the class is included in your membership. If you’ve never been to CustomFit and want to give it a try, your first class is FREE so you have nothing to lose!

If you have any questions about the class you can email me at jenn@customfitpt.net.

So grab a friend and your Yoga mat and join me for PiYo this week!

Creating a Balanced Routine

I think it’s important for everyone to find balance in their workout routines. Incorporating a balance of strength training, cardio and stretching will give you the best results for fat burning and muscle toning.

Developing a strong cardio program can be relatively easy. While you may not care for cardio workouts, it’s not difficult to hop on a treadmill or take a spin class. These activities are sure to raise your heart rate and get you sweating. They key to a successful cardio workout is to find something you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t expect 45 minutes on a treadmill to go well.

Strength training can be a bit more challenging. If you’re not familiar with proper form there is a danger of injury so sticking to the machines is often a good starting point. Gyms often offer an orientation to the gym which includes walking you through the proper way to use the strength training equipment. If this isn’t available, or you need a refresher, many machines have instructions and pictures to educate you on how to use the machine and which muscles the exercises target.

If you are interested in adopting free weights into your workouts, I highly recommend initially working with a personal trainer. A trainer can show you the proper form and help you identify the correct weight to use for the various exercises. Make sure you are facing a mirror whenever working with free weights. This will help to ensure you hold proper form and can see what adjustments need to be made.

I often like to combine cardio bursts with my strength training which how I structure the majority of my BootCamp and Cardio Sculpt classes. I select 3 – 5 strength training moves and after completing 10 – 15 reps of each exercise I ramp up my heart rate with 3 – 5 minutes of cardio intervals. To give you an example:

Repeat the following for three sets

  • Deadlift with upward row (15 reps)
  • Alternate back lunge with hammer curl (10 reps each side)
  • Squat with a shoulder press (15 reps)
  • Tricep push-ups (10)
  • Bicycle crunches (15 reps)
  • Butt kicks, high knees, squat jack, alternate front kicks and fast feet (each exercise for 30 seconds and repeat)

Many people skip stretching as the final stage of their workout and that’s a big mistake. Stretching should be at least five minutes and all stretches should be held for 20 – 30 seconds. Increased flexibility and range of motion are just a couple of the many benefits of stretching.

How do you create balance with your workouts?

I’m Just Like You

One of the things that I think makes me different from other personal trainers is that I have three children and my professional life hasn’t always been centered on health and fitness. I’ve spent years sitting behind a desk, gaining and losing pounds, celebrating losses and hating myself for the gains, and achieving fitness milestones just to lose it all.

I know what it means to work hard and hit a plateau, I know how hard it can be to try and get a workout in when the laundry is piled up, when there are no real plans for dinner and the house is a terrible mess and add on one or more children screaming at the top of their lungs!

All of those things make me think I can identify with women in a real way. I’m not an elite althete, I’m not going to scream at you and I’m not going to pressure you to give up the things that mean the most to you just to just to shed some pounds and build lean muscles.

But being a wife, mom, daughter and friend are more important to me than anything and I think most women would agree with that. So when it comes to personal training I take all of those things into consideration. No program can be successful if it doesn’t match the needs and lifestyle of the person.

Women often put ourselves on the back burner to make sure everyone else is happy. We’d do just about anything and drop everything at a moments notice if we knew it would make our spouse, children, parents or friends happy.

I recently gave up a secured income to follow my passion to help others achieve health and fitness. Part of me felt like I was nuts – who gives up a guarnteed paycheck? But the other part of me felt so alive knowing that I was reaching for a dream that not only filled me but gave me the opportunity to help others.

This change is scary. It’s going to take me out of every comfort zone I have. But I realize how happy I am connecting with people in a fitness setting. I realize how energized I am thinking about changed lives. I realize that I don’t have to be perfect – I’m a wife, mom, daughter and friend just most other women out there who are trying to do it all and make it work and my job is to train, inspire and encourage.

I’m excited about the path ahead of me. I’m sure there will be some ‘stumps’ in the way, I’m sure there may be some forks in the road, and without a doubt there are going to be times that I won’t know what to do with the stumps or the forks, but what I do know is I’m following my passion. My life has been changed and I know I can help others achieve change too.

We only get one time around – today is the day to make the most of it.

Give me a call 574-387-1344 or drop me an email at jenn.customfitpt.com and let’s talk about how I can help you to make the most of your one time around.

Getting Kids Active with KidFit

Do you have a child who is more into video games than sports? One who would rather watch tv than ride a bike?

You would think as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor I would have children who are always on the go. Unfortunately, I, like many parents, have to pry the video game controllers and other electronic devices away and firmly push them outdoors.

And when it comes to sports, my husband and I generally make the executive decision to enroll them in various programs. Basketball has been a positive experience, but baseball, well… not so much!

This all got me thinking that if I am struggling to keep my non-athletic kiddos active, other parents are probably struggling too. Let’s face it, not all children are drawn to team sports which is generally a great way to keep them active.

Starting November 18th I am going to offer a six week KitFit program at CustomFit. The class is designed for boys and girls ages 9 – 13 and will meet every Tuesday and Thursday from  4:30 – 5:15pm at 218 E. St Charles in Lombard.

The class will be a combination of fun activities to get children interested in staying active and equip them with things that they can do at home to stay healthy.

Positive habits that are formed now will follow your children through their life so don’t wait to get them interested in activities that will keep them healthy and happy. Register today by calling 574-387-1344 or emailing jenn@customfitpt.com
Cost: $125/session, $50/each additional child
Nov 18 – Dec 23
Jan 6 – Feb 12
Feb 17 – March 26
March 31 – May 7

The New Power Lunch

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to fit a workout in with a busy schedule. For many people getting to the gym early morning is difficult because of work and school schedules. Even for those with more flexible schedules, mornings can be packed with errands and household tasks after getting everyone on their way.

Fast forward to the end of the day and between after school activities, helping with homework, late meetings, dinner and housework, the gym is often an afterthought. That’s not even considering that energy levels may be at their lowest from the pressures of the day.

So my thought is to change the definition of a ‘Power Lunch’ from a working lunch to a workout lunch!

By just taking a half hour out of your day you can build muscle, burn fat and lose the guilt about another day passing without making it to the gym.

To maximize the benefits of the 30 minute class, each day will focus on targeting a specific area of the body.

Monday: Chest and back

Tuesday: Biceps and triceps

Wednesday: Legs and glutes

Thursday: CORE

Friday: Pilates and flexibility

Classes will offer challenging strength training exercises coupled with minimal cardio to ensure you can return to the office or head right back to running errands without feeling like a hot, sweaty, mess.

Classes will start November 17th and will meet 12:15 – 12:45pm Monday through Friday at CustomFit located at 218. E St. Charles in Lombard.

Start making the most of your lunch and come in for a true POWER Lunch. For more information call me at 574-387-1344 or email jenn@customfitpt.com.