getting ready  Getting a little bored with your routine?  Perhaps you’ve hit the proverbial wall; your weight loss has stalled, your DVDs hold the same old same old, or maybe you want to spice things up–workout wise that is.  There are many ways to add spice; but for now, mainstream exercise is the topic.

Some clients have asked my opinion on Crossfit.  I ask “what do you know about it?”  Most of them tell me “nothing.”

While employed as a staff nurse, I recall a young patient whose doctor visited her with discharge instructions.  This was highly unusual.  Most physicians leave this task to the floor nurse.  I went to her room to help her pack, as well as clarify anything she didn’t understand.  She informed me she slept through most of what her doctor was telling her.  “Can you ask him to come back?” she asked.  I pulled up a chair for a little “heart to heart.”  Understand that this patient was not groggy from surgery.  She hadn’t had any medication to induce drowsiness.  Nor was she a pediatric patient.  Though not much older than she, I put on my “experienced” face.  I told her I would put out a call for the physician, but she had to explain WHY.  This shook her out of her lethargy.  I also told her what I’ve used as a signature phrase throughout my nursing career.  “You are responsible for your own healthcare.”

And just like that patient, I remind my clients that they are responsible for their well-being.  Whether in the capacity of staff nurse, educator, or personal trainer, I am simply a facilitator.


Some confusion seems to exist–there are those who interchangeably use Crossfit and cross training.  Crossfit may be a form of cross training.  Considering the intensity level however, it may not be a fit for everyone.  I think of cross training as a form of exercise to alternate with a normal routine.  For example, my son runs cross-country and track.  He occasionally sports a t-shirt around the football elite which reads “My sport is your punishment.”  True or untrue, running would be their cross training.  Players attempting to catch him, to give him a piece of their mind might be their Cross fit, but I digress.


Crossfit appears to be a collaboration of weight training, plyometrics, rope climbing, tire throwing, tire carrying, gas mask running, kickboxing, obstacle course phenomenon which appears to be grabbing major attention–for diverse reasons.  However, I’m not  convinced that all of the above activities, while wearing the Crossfit label, are indeed mainstream Crossfit.  Still if you are interested, it pays to keep in mind a few ideas.  I will preface this list with what I say in most posts, when talking fitness.  “Not every exercise is for every body.”

1.  Observe to preserve.  Assessment is the first step in the nursing process.  This is the information gathering stage.  It includes history of present illness, review of systems, as well as medications.  Assessment or inventory can be your best friend when discerning whether a program, or even a trainer is right for you.  By observation, you preserve your resources (time, money, and your body) before signing on the dotted line.

2.  Do your homework.  What’s in the facility?  This includes the trainers.  Are they certified?  I’m not saying certification always implies results or guarantees safety, but it does imply credibility.  Asking questions should never be a threat to a personal trainer.  It helps both client and trainer decide if they are a fit for each other.

3.  Ask for a trial class–even if you have to pay for it.  Not everything is free.  Trainers have expenses.  Their time like yours, is a precious commodity.  But before you commit to package or buy 3 get one free deals, ask to try a class.  The only way to know  if something is really for you, is to do it.

Need a little more info?  Check out  Videos, personal success stories, and more details can be found on the website.

Fitness is indeed a journey, and its destination can be uncertain–like life itself.   it is fraught with bumps in the road, boredom, success and setbacks.  And like life, there needs to be challenge to effect change.  Yet there are many ways to challenge yourself, to bring about that change.  Furthermore, the challenges you are willing to face, should never outweigh the benefits you want to reap.  Setbacks in the form of muscle breakdown, joint displacement, or other injuries are not the change most of us desire.  Therefore as with any exercise, workout regime, or even trainer, it is up to the participant be mindful; and awake.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

recovery neededFrom my teen years till now, I considered cardio the ideal fat burner.  High intensity exercises, ranging from INSANITY, back to 80’s style aerobics, were (and still are) the core of my routines.  Strength training, machines or free weights, were a distant second.  If I was too tired for cardio, machines and weights were my “back-up.”  I tolerated strength training; like many tolerate or endure uninvited in-laws; after two weeks.

While that ideology has changed for me, most of you familiar with my posts, realize running preserves my sanity.  Even after a car accident, running was my constant–the north star in a time of uncertainty.  It was there for me to shed the “baby weight.”  It was there after a long work day; working with people who made snobbery an art form.

Since most of my running consists of submaximal workouts, not sprinting, this information would not apply.

Did you know that fat oxidation is reduced, with increasing exercise intensity?

Scraping the surface only, here are a few reasons.

Intramuscular triglycerides (lipids inside of muscle) are used 1st.  Then comes fatty acid oxidation.  Possibly, your body likes to hang on to its excess baggage; for a couple of reasons.  Just in case there’s a famine; just in case you decide to skip a meal or two–just in case you become pregnant.

Lactate also plays its role; it stops fatty acid mobilization.  The good news:  if you are an endurance athlete, you produce less lactate.  Yes, it’s a slow process to become one of those.   BUT, another perk of endurance training–when you finish, fat oxidation is increased.  Free fatty acids in plasma and intramuscular triglyceride oxidation is increased; contributing to fat usage.

What’s the take away if you want to burn fat?  Slow and low.  More to the point, you might want to alternate low and moderate intensity workout days.

My opinion?  High intensity should be part of your regime.  Why?  To shake things up a bit.  Your body can reach a set point with any routine; high or low.  However, if you start low, you still have somewhere to go.  If you start high, your appetite will definitely match that.  That will leave you with an ever-increasing hunger–quite disconcerting if you are trying to lose weight.

In subsequent posts, I will try to address more on this subject.  The exercise physiology class in which I’m enrolled and deriving this information, should shed additional light.  There is more to fitness than just the newest 3 day detox, or trendy workout routine.  It entails, as with nursing, evidence based practice.  Coupled with experience, this is the premise from which I operate–both as a nurse and now as a nurse personal trainer.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Strength–It comes in all shapes, sizes, and especially circumstances.

It was in the face of parents–who despite the loss of their own child’s life, found the courage to donate their organs so others may live.  It is in the hands of adult children, caring for an aging parent struggling with mental clarity.  It was in the eyes of a former nurse, now a patient–battling breast cancer.  Strength is much too complex to be confined to one ideal.  With this in mind, a little strength training please..

When most of us think fit and strong, something like this comes to mind.strong pull upA well chiseled male physique certainly gets my attention.  I have to admit–this was and still is (to a degree) my idea of what fitness embodies.  Yet as with running (my belief was it was the only exercise worth doing) I’ve had to re-think this.

If you’ve read my previous “toolbox” post, I wrote about INSANITY.  Just to reiterate, it was a wake-up call to my senses as well as my body.  It made me realize there was more to fitness than running.   What else is in my toolbox?  If you want something that incinerates fat and a little cellulite too, try this.  It also builds long, lean, defined muscle.  So for now, put down the dumbbells and put on your dancer Give ballet–or at least a ballet inspired workout, a try.  I know what you’re probably thinking.  Never being a fan of anything too “girlie” I understand.  My scarred right knee still testifies to falling from a tree onto pavement.

As many little girls, my mother enrolled me in ballet classes.  However, it soon became evident I was not going to be anyone’s sugar-plum fairy.

I’m not a dancer (except for my short stint at 5 yrs old) and the word “graceful” has never been used to describe me.  Therefore, I decided to purchase DVDs entitled “ballet inspired” workouts.  Choreography is not part of the ones I use.   My results?

First and foremost, the leg exercises had me thinking my thighs were on fire–from the inside out.  The continuous arm movements rivaled any machine or dumbbell work I did at the gym.  The next day..well I’ll say this.  Even when I ran 10 miles for the 1st time, I was not this tired.  My favorite arm work, free weights, machines, or otherwise, never left me feeling this sore.  INSANITY–move over.  You still corner the market (for me) on intensity and sweat equity.  However, this is mostly due to the plyometrics.  BUT–I believe even Shaun T. may buckle under some of these simple, yet effective workouts.

If you still need convincing about the mental and physical endurance ballet provides, I would like to call your attention to a fairly well-known actor.  Remember, I started this segment addressing strength and its many diversities.  I believe he embodied these and more.

Does anyone remember Dirty Dancing?  Roadhouse?  Patrick Swayze?  Patrick Swayze was a rough and tumble Texan.  He happened to be blessed with charisma, talent; and he wasn’t too bad on the eyes either.  He also possessed an athleticism beyond most.  It saw him through working on a show called THE BEAST–WHILE enduring chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.  I wondered–from where did such athleticism and determination come?  Personal grit–and the discipline of ballet.  Mr. Swayze was a classically trained ballet dancer.

What has my time with this workout revealed?  A longer leaner effect on my limbs.  While I’ve always had a small to medium rear, it still has been a source of consternation for me to tone.  INSANITY definitely helped; but these workouts took it to the next level; refining and defining.

For my male readers–before you pass judgment or cast dispersion, why not give these workouts a try?  Sure, you’re strong now, but the question is, are you Patrick Swayze strong?

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Which DVDs have I used?  BALLET BEAUTIFUL BODY BLAST by Mary Helen Bowers.  There are 4 segments–arms, 15 minute body blast, as well as butt series 1&2.  Simple, a little redundant; but effective.  I also use BALLET BODY–TOTAL BODY by Leah Sarago.  This one for me, is quite challenging.  All segments–arms, core, as well as lower body are around 20 minutes.  She also includes a warm-up as well as cool down/stretching segment.  Both of these workouts are indeed workouts; no choreography.

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yoga female on topFitness for me has many faces.  It is definitely not a “one size fits all” endeavor.

As I have written in earlier posts, running has been a mainstay in my “toolbox.”  As much as I hate to admit it however, it has proved somewhat one-dimensional.  Before my running enthusiasts leap to defend, I am discussing what works for me.  Let me explain.

Unless I was consistently upping my mileage, as well as watching my diet (which is essential to incorporate into any regime) I found I was gaining weight.  I also started to experience problems with my right knee.  This is not uncommon due to the repetitive nature of running.  While overuse of certain muscles can occur with any routine, runners are very prone to overuse issues others may not suffer.  Still I do it.  Why?  Because I love it.  Yet I had to find something to support the muscles that run; in a way “support my habit.”  Enter INSANITY.

In case you haven’t seen the infomercials, INSANITY is workout which consistently changes routines.  With this is mind, your body is always working to adjust & readjust to what’s going on today.  Because running is so repetitive, INSANITY gave me a jolt–as well as a wake-up call.

Most runners (myself included) feel they are in great shape.  Whether you run track, cross-country, distance, or anything in between–if you are a consistent runner, you are in great shape–for running.  However, try something like INSANITY, and you will be unpleasantly surprised how out of shape you feel.  I know how I felt–and it was runner’s arrogance which kept me from trying other workouts.

The results?  INSANITY made me a stronger, as well as faster runner.  My mileage suffered initially–simply because now I wanted to go faster.  It reshaped my body, giving me more muscle without bulk.  However, it also increased my appetite.  Not surprising though, considering the workload you are performing in a short period of time.  Keep in mind, you are only doing this for less than an hour (second month DVDs are an hour-long).  In order to maintain caloric burn, newer research suggests you your keep active throughout your day.  It doesn’t mean you’re doing plyometrics and high intensity aerobics all day.  It does mean you are mindful of your activity level and what you are eating.  Taking a walk later, cutting grass, cleaning out your closet or crawl space (a workout in its own right), are all ways to keep that activity level elevated.

Make no mistake though, INSANITY is NOT for everyone.  It incorporates explosive jumps, into HIGH intensity workouts.  If you have joint issues (especially knee) you may have to modify or even skip some of the routines.  In my case, I modified–then found my body adapting and getting stronger as I progressed.  As always, my recommendation is to preview & review.  Preview any video (if you can) and review your history/medications with a medical professional, BEFORE you begin.

INSANITY is another tool in my box.  Like any wrench or ratchet, I use it in conjunction with other equipment.  It is not my only tool–nor will it be.  I received the boxed set 2 years ago, and alternate/incorporate it into my week.  That week includes strength training at the health club, running on treadmill (I know, anathema to those who run outside exclusively) and running outside when I can.  So what else is in my toolbox?  Two workouts which for a long time, I considered much too “girly girl” for me.  Yet like INSANITY, they gave my body another wake-up call–as well as results I never achieved by gym workouts, running, or anything else.  But more on that next time.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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