What works–keeping it real

teaching fitness  As a trainer and nurse, my focus is what works for those who lead real day-to-day lives.  My encounters range from those dealing with acute to chronic pain, as well as those in the midst of transition.  It can be one perceived as upward or downward; incline to decline.  Yes, perception in my view is everything.  Far from the way most practitioners’ view health, I don’t subscribe to every theory and hypothesis–regardless of the source.  Why? For a few reasons, but mainly because they are just that.  Theory and hypothesis.  Proof?  Well if set in stone, we would be practicing medicine the same way we did in the 1800s; or even 25 years ago.  We don’t.  Therefore for me, incline or decline is part and parcel in the mind.  At the very least, in our outlook.

My hope is to change minds and bodies, one at a time.


Much of what I post on exercise (not all, but most) I have tried myself.  No I’m not naturally long, lean, and thin, with a graceful body.  I have talents and some gifts; that’s not one of them.   However, it doesn’t mean I’ve settled into a mindset which says “that’s not for you.” I beg to differ; and have.

If you want a longer leaner body, there are ways and means.  Though the endless squats and lunges most personal trainers feel requisite, isn’t one of them.  If you goal is to strengthen/increase quad and glute size; go for it.  However if it entails elongation, they may not be for you.

Yes it takes a village–and here are a few of the inhabitants.


Cardio is an absolute necessity for me.  Running on a treadmill (even if I can’t sustain the speed) at 6.0 or higher, begins my workout.  I do start with a brief walk first.   Ten to fifteen minutes alternating at different speeds, is the rev I need to initiate a routine.  This sets the tone for how I want my body to react; and ultimately look like.


Strength training is essential; but not all is created equal.  Nor does it just apply to free weights or machines.  That’s not to say they don’t have a place.  They do; and furthermore I believe machines give your muscles a workout almost impossible to replicate at home.  But if the gym isn’t your thing, there are great alternatives.  If elongation and toning is your goal, then the gym may be your alternative, not your main source.

Here are a few suggestions.

1. ESSENTRICS/Classical Stretch–Don’t the let the name “Classical Stretch” fool you.  The pulling and toning associated with this routine is anything but classical.  This workout is unlike any I’ve tried.  It can elongate and define your torso, arms, and legs in ways you’d never thought possible.  The DVDs will run you about $20.00 each, depending upon what you order.  My favorites are the ESSENTRICS FULL BODY BARRE WORKOUT and ESSENTRICS Arms, Abs, & Waist Toner with Legs, Butt, & Thigh Thinner.  The first features combination routines which can be mixed and matched.  The latter features 2 workouts; one for upper body and one for lower.  While this may not be traditional strength training, it will help lengthen and strengthen your limbs.

2.  BALLET BEAUTIFUL–Again, the name is a fooler.  Mary Helen Bowers is, as a friend termed it “the silent assassin.”  The music is classical, the studio clean, crisp, and pristine.  The workout?  One of the toughest I’ve performed; especially the butt and leg segments.  One DVD contains 4 workouts, another has 6.  The one containing only 4 is harder, in my humble opinion.  Strength training?  You better believe it is.  By the time Ms. Mary Helen is finished with you, squats will seem like a brisk walk on a spring day.  The kicker here is while lunges and squats may help with cellulite, this workout actually does.  It may not get rid of it completely.  Yet I’ve seen marked improvements; in places I thought impossible to tone with any other exercise.


To recap, my workout starts with brisk cardio–treadmill walk, then run; upwards of 6.0-7.0.  If not a treadmill day, I also still like INSANITY.  However, I START with 15 minutes of it, then go to a toning routine.  Rarely at this point, do I finish an INSANITY workout.  My toning segment consists of a Pilates, Essentrics, Classical Stretch, Ballet Beautiful, or yoga type routine.  Choose a DVD you like, but one which will challenge you as you become more fit.  That is key.  My rule of thumb is if it’s easy to do in the beginning, you’re wasting your time and money.  Whatever the exercise, it should grow with you, challenging you as you become more fit.

So how long does this take?  It depends.  I can work out anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hrs, every other day.  I also include at least 1 day at the gym–weather permitting.

Hope this helps.

Need additional tips? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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