Take a break from the bulk….

recovery needed  One of the most clever sayings I’ve heard–“real men don’t lift weights, they lift women.”  This from Nigel Lythgoe, producer and judge from So You Think You Can Dance.

Let me put this in perspective, before I continue.  I’m not against weight lifting or strength training–in any form. I believe there is a fitness routine that is well suited for you.  And doing you, not someone else, has always been my stance.

Yet not everyone is sold on the grunt, squat, and lift routines pervasive in gyms everywhere.  Same goes for running for extended periods of time.  You could say this holds true for any activity or career.  Knowing your (or your client’s) goals is therefore essential–BEFORE you jump headlong into an exercise regime.

I realize this sounds pretty basic.  However, if you were to visit the gym where I work out, you’d rethink that.  It appears most of the trainers know one thing and one thing only.  You guessed it–squat, lift, grunt, repeat.  Add in a little cardio just to keep it interesting.  The women they train seem to be the recipients of endless squats, with a few variations on sit-ups, and some cardio.  The guys–they get lunges with dumbbells, lifting, and some cardio; maybe.

Ladies if you’re looking to build thighs the size of a football player, keep doing those endless squats.  Guys, if you wants overbuilt backs unable to rest comfortably on a floor or even bed, keep up the grunt and fart routine.  For those of you who want something else, read on.


Lengthen–this word may have dubious connotations behind it in the dance world.  For some, it may mean simply extend.  For others, it’s code for “lose weight.”  Here, I’m using it to suggest lengthening out contracted muscles.  For women, I suggest routines which lengthen their thighs, arms, and abs.  ESSENTRICS & CLASSICAL STRETCH fit the bill well.  Leah Sarago’s BALLET BODY also works wonders for this.  You will have muscle–the long and lean kind most of us want.  No you don’t have to give up your running, CROSSFIT, or your strength routine.  Same goes for the guys.  If bulking up is your desire, no need to give that up.  Lengthening routines simply stretch out overbuilt and overly contracted muscles.  Your abs will look even more cut, if you give CLASSICAL STRETCH a try.  Why? As your body starts to stretch out, your abs will appear longer, because your back will be straighter.  Now everyone will be able to admire (including you) the work you put in, building that six-pack.  Correct posture is essential in these workouts, and you will notice the benefits of this, beyond appearance.

So guys, if you’re really serious about weight lifting–but down those barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells.  Lift your lady.  Perhaps a little instruction might help first.  Any experienced ballet instructor can give you and her pointers.  Think of him/her as your second personal trainer; and weight lifting guru.

Ladies, if you’re not seeking to cultivate thighs the size of a Heisman recipient, ease up on the squats and lunges.  Long, lean limbs are not as out of reach as you think.  Sure genetics have a lot to do with it, but so do you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.



Easy does it…

pink dancer   Flexibility.  Most of us possess some, but would like more.  Women especially, usually desire the long, lean lines associated with nimble limbs.  However, even if you are an elite bodybuilder, flexibility is still key.  Why?  Many reasons–however I will stick to just one; for now.


Range of motion (ROM) is something most of us would like to keep, as we advance in age.  If you have built your body to such an extent where ROM is compromised, then elongating and stretching isn’t just a good idea.  It is imperative.

Anytime ROM is stalled for whatever reason, you risk losing MORE.  Keeping what you have, while SLOWLY working towards an increase, will help not only in the gym, but with activities of daily living.  It also assists with balance and equilibrium, especially when confronted with out of the ordinary situations.  Examples include righting yourself to prevent falling; ability to skip, step, or hop over an object; or possibly knowing how to fall, when it cannot be avoided.  As you can see, ROM is quite useful.  Keeping it therefore, should be high on your “to do” list, and incorporated into every workout.


If just getting started, working on taking your mobility to flexibility, or would like a challenge to your ROM, take a look.


This video is about 20 minutes.  It is considered a full body workout.  Viewing it for the 1st time, may lead you to believe there is little going on.  Trying it for the 1st time, depending upon your fitness level, may leave you with a different impression.

I like this for a few reasons.  Initially, it is slow enough to really engage proper movement.  Second, unless you have severe back problems, most will find the exercises relatively easy to do.  While you may not possess the flexibility or “turn out” the participants have, you can modify.  As the instructor clearly states, “work within your own capabilities.”  And really, after consulting your medical professional, beginning any fitness routine means working within your own capabilities.

Yet isn’t it inspiring to know, what you once may have considered an improbability, can soon be your capability?

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

What the nursing process can teach you–A FIVE PART SERIES (continued)

healthy living waterfall

Live life unscripted–we’ve heard this in ballads, and touted throughout pop culture.  Most of us realize life is unscripted; especially when our best laid plans go awry.  Yet that’s just it, somewhere along the way–there was a plan.

PLANNING is a pivotal stage in the nursing process.  Why?  It paves the way for IMPLEMENTATION & EVALUATION.

PLANNING usually isn’t a complicated task; it’s sticking to it that gets in the way.  Sound a bit ridiculous?  It should.  However, it’s a reality we all face; in one way or another, at one time or another.

From a health and fitness perspective, PLANNING is KEY.  However, it’s the IMPLEMENTATION or follow-through which leads to lifestyle change.

For the moment let’s stick to PLANNING.  As stated earlier, planning isn’t usually complicated.  We’re going to keep it that way.  Yet, our plan should include these vital elements when thinking fitness–nutrition adjustment, move modification, and education.  I have coined the term NAME.

Everyone has a name-a proper noun to which we respond, when we hear it.  Unless something traumatic occurs, most of us will not forget our name.

Nutrition adjustment is the make or break element here.  You may have been told it is exercise.  Exercise is a must; but your weight loss battle is won or lost at the table.   You can actually gain weight, even if exercise is part of your daily routine.  You must expend or put out, more calories than you take in.  It really is that simple; and that complex.  For specifics on caloric expenditure, see my post under Nutrition.  Furthermore, recent theory suggests that unless you are moving throughout your day, an hour at the gym if the rest of your life is sedentary, may not be beneficial.  Will keep you posted, as some of these clinical trials are very new.

Move modification may mean walking throughout your day, running, resistance training, home workouts, or any combination thereof.  The point is this–do something.  If you have not engaged in regular exercise, have mobility issues, or restricted because of cardio-pulmonary compromise–this doesn’t spell the end or let you off the hook.  Every workout is not for every body.  Your responsibility is to find one that is right for you.  Proper consult with your physician, as well as thorough ASSESSMENT, are essential to your PLANNING.  ACSM (AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE) prescription principles suggest the following:

Cardiovascular exercise–should be 3-5 times a week, for 20-90 minutes.  The routine should be continuous and rhythmic in nature

Resistance training–should work major muscle groups to their full range of motion (ROM), with control of speed.  Eight to ten exercises of 2-4 sets each

Flexibility–In order for your muscles to “trust you,” you should hold your stretches for at least 15 seconds.  Flexibility training should be 2-3 days per week, to mild discomfort (Mild discomfort is difficult to define for everyone.  When in doubt, consult your MD; and especially your own body).  Flexibility training can be static or accomplished with help–15-60 seconds for each; working towards 3-4 repetitions

EDUCATION–or continuing education, is tantamount.  How many of us have returned to school either to “brush up” on a subject or acquire new knowledge?  From floral arranging to learning to speak a different language, most of us desire to know more.  Even if the desire isn’t always there, the requirement may be.  Modifying your lifestyle to reflect your weight loss/fitness goals require education; continuing education.  This doesn’t just mean looking up new exercises or diet trends.  More notably to you, it means interpreting your own data.  Understand what your body is telling you AND document it.  In this way, you have a written record of your successes, failures, and everything in between.  It can also be a useful tool when discussing progress with your trainer or medical professional.  The point is you are educating yourself, about yourself.  This is essential for your nutritional as well as exercise component.

As a nursing student, I was constantly reminded “if it’s not documented, it’s not done.”  That mantra has seen me successfully through false allegations of neglectful care, to assessing new employee skills in the field.  With this in mind, I cannot stress enough, the importance of documenting your progress; even if its regress.

NAME is just a reminder I use.  However, it can be useful to remember and reconcile your PLANNING stage.  There are countless ways and means to see you through.  Regardless of what you choose–have a plan.  Even if needs revamping, rethinking, or rebooting, HAVE A PLAN.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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Questions?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com