Does Orangetheory Have You Seeing Red?
Does Orangetheory Have You Seeing Red? avatar

Three scientific reasons you might not be getting results if you are prone to stress!

by Brian Koning, ACE-CPT, Pn1 Nutrition Professional

Not all fitness programs meet the needs of every individual’s goals. Not even mine.

Before I jump into this assessment of another fitness program called Orangetheory Fitness, I want to be perfectly clear that I believe there is a shortage of fitness programs available to meet the needs of the general population. With only about 21% of the adult population engaged in any sort of exercise, that leaves 79% of us needing to get off of our butts and moving.

My program, FitNow Boot Camp, does not meet the needs or wants of some people. It’s not designed for body builders. It’s not sports-specific or geared towards athletic performance. And, it probably wouldn’t benefit someone who is interested in specifically training for a triathlon – although its a good supplemental program.  I developed it to be a general fitness and weight loss/management program.

CrossFit is another example of a fitness program that has its own niche. It caters to people who are relatively fit, competitive and are highly driven to challenge themselves. It is ideal for people who range in age from 18-35. In my honest opinion (and general industry consensus), it HIGHLY DISCOURAGED for beginners or people over the age of forty.

My purpose in writing this blog post is to address specific questions that I, as a fitness professional and fitness business owner, have been fielding from current and past clients as well as friends and acquaintances about a fairly new fitness business in Carmel called Orangetheory Fitness.

I have no affiliation with Orangetheory and have not participated in one of their workouts. Therefore, I can neither endorse nor denounce their program. I can only offer feedback as a fitness professional about what I understand about their fitness programming and why some individuals may struggle to reach and maintain their fitness and weight loss goals.

Orange_theory_workoutOrangetheory Fitness is a franchise fitness business with more than 200 open studios in 28 states, and more than 600 franchise licenses awarded in and outside of the United States. They primarily set up shop in strip malls and offers 60-minute high intensity interval training workouts.

During the workouts, participants wear heart rate monitors and can see their current heart rate and activity level on a large screen while they run on treadmills, row on rowing machines and engage in some boot camp-style resistance training exercises. All this is in an effort to get their heart rate into the “orange” zone and burn 500-1,000 calories per workout. This is from their website…

“The Orangetheory Fitness training session is comprised of three components: treadmill interval training blocks, indoor rowing and weight room or resistance training blocks. These Orange 60 sessions are open to all adults and teens, ages 16 and older. All fitness levels are welcome as our program is specifically designed for everyone from power walkers to elite performance athletes.

As you plan to participate in your first Orange 60 workout, please arrive 30 minutes prior to the start time so we can educate and prepare you for the most efficient, science-based workout you will ever experience. Call your nearest studio to book your first complimentary workout.

If weight loss is your goal, you can expect to see an estimated loss of three to five pounds per week by attending three to five sessions per week and with proper nutritional planning.

If performance is your goal, you can expect to see an increase in power, speed and strength after your first two weeks of attending two to four sessions per week.

Our clients burn an estimated 500 to 1000 calories per workout. We are 5 zone heart-rate interval training.”

Sounds awesome, right?

It is if you are relatively fit, find it easy to lose weight and aren’t prone to high stress.

Right off the bat, I want to address their claim that “you can expect to see an estimated loss of three to five pounds per week.”

That is simply not a “typical”, “safe”, or “realistic” goal. Exercise, alone, cannot cause weight loss and actually only accounts for about 15-20% of the equation. The rest is dependent on your nutrition, sleep, genetics, and other factors. And, while the age-old rule is that you have to have a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories (it’s more like 7,000 calories), to lose ONE pound, you’d have to exercise several hours a day, even with EPOC (afterburn) to lose 3-5 lbs per week. There’s no mention on their website, that I can find, of “nutrition” and its critical importance to weight loss.

Also, there is no “disclaimer” on their website saying anything to the effect of “Results are not typical”.

Now, let’s look at the workout.

You see, some fitness programs are not necessarily designed specifically for weight loss. While they might advertise a high calorie burn and tout the benefits of EPOC or “afterburn”, they fail to take into consideration the stress that some types of workouts can put on the body and the consequences that the release of stress hormones have on weight loss for many individuals.

When our bodies are under stress, we release a stress hormone called cortisol. In short, cortisol can trigger overeating and, in some cases, block fat loss as the body goes into “fight or flight” mode and holds onto fat for future energy. This can even result in weight GAIN even though an individual perceives they are working out hard and eating healthy.

So, how can a fitness program stress somebody out if exercise is supposed to be good for us?

It’s pretty easy. Here are three ways that I see a workout like this triggering a stress response.

#1: Adaptation Stress

First, research shows that when we first start a new fitness program after a period of inactivity, we become stressed. Not only does the thought of exercising and being uncomfortable cause stress, but our body is under attack physically. Muscles are stressed, our hearts are stressed, are lungs are stressed, and other bodily systems can become stressed as we try to adapt to exercise. This can go on for weeks or even a couple of months until our body starts to adapt to the rigors of exercise. Even in my program, clients may not see any change until five, six, seven, or even more weeks into the program. Everyone is different.

#2: Time Stress

Another issue is the length of a workout. When we go much beyond 30-45 minutes of high intensity exercise, our body becomes stressed. We use up our entire glycogen stores (from carbohydrates) and now our body must convert proteins and fat into energy to get through the remainder of the workout. Again, cortisol is released and fat loss can slow down or stop as our body holds onto fat for energy. Our body then breaks down protein (muscle) for energy – albeit not at a very high rate.  But, that last 15 or 20 minutes of a 60-minute workout can really mess with our weight loss efforts.

Also, they tout their “5-zone heart rate interval training”. While that may sound all technical and scientific, three of those zones are not considered “fat burning” zones, so they are useless when it comes to effective fat burning. If I want to lose weight, I’m going to primarily hang out in zones 1 & 2 where 85% of the calories I burn are from fat and I’ll flirt with zone 3, where 50% of the calories I burn are from fat. Zones 4 anD 5 only take about 15% and 10% of their calories from fat, respectively. (At FitNow, we spend most of our time between the 50-85% fat burning zones, which equals… RESULTS!)

For an explanation of the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones, CLICK HERE!

#3: Competition Stress

And finally, the other cortisol-inducing stress factor is “competition.” By focusing on the competition of trying to get your body to reach a certain “zone” or “level” and not being able to reach or maintain that goal during the actual workout, we can become stressed out. Granted, some people just aren’t competitive and handle it much better. But, I am a highly competitive person and always push myself to reach time and intensity goals or even compete with others in my group fitness classes. When we can’t physically achieve our goals, we often become stressed. And… that releases stress hormones!

So, why am I dogging on Orangetheory?

I’m not. Again, I’m just providing feedback as to why some folks may not be getting the results they need. And, this is a relatively new fitness program that has recently appeared on the fitness landscape in the Carmel, Indiana area.  Whenever this happens, clients and friends always ask me what know about it and what my opinion is.

And, like I stated earlier, my FitNow program cannot meet the needs of certain individuals looking to achieve certain fitness goals. No program is a one-size-fits-all solution.

But, when I start hearing from people that they are engaged in a program and aren’t getting results or are even gaining weight, I feel compelled to chime in and provide some feedback as to why this might be happening.

And because I get to know my clients well and have seen those past clients experience some level of success in my program and then fail at a new program, I get concerned. These are people who constantly battle their weight, struggle with nutrition, and are prone to stress.

At FitNow, our clients complete HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. But, we continue to apply what we learn about exercise science and weight loss.

I made the decision  a couple of years ago to cut our workouts back from 60 minutes to 30 minutes and increase the intensity based on what industry research was telling us. We delicately balance on the edge of stress and never pass that 45-minute threshold where the body retreats and stress hormones are released.

You’ll still burn hundreds of calories, get that same critical “after burn” effect which revs up your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories at rest, and you’ll experience gains in strength, power and cardiovascular endurance.

And, we do incorporate nutrition into our program. We provide valuable information through our classes, website, social media, and weekly newsletter. We fully understand that nutrition is the key factor when it comes to weight loss and make no claims or promises when it comes to actual weight loss numbers as we know every individual is different.

If you have been involved in our FitNow program in the past or are just struggling to hit and/or maintain your weight loss goals, I invite you to contact me about how our program can get you back on track to getting the results you want.

To Your Health!

Brian Koning, Owner & Trainer

Brian Koning, Owner & Trainer

Brian Koning is an ACE-certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition-certified Sport & Fitness Nutrition Professional, and IYCA-certified Youth Fitness & Nutrition Specialist. He owns and operates FitNow Boot Camp located in Westfield, IN and Fishers, IN and is the creator of the First Step Fitness Program, a boot camp program for beginners and people who struggle with exercise.

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Got Sarcopenia?
Got Sarcopenia? avatar

Age-Related Muscle Loss Doesn’t Have to Happen

Brian Koning, ACE-CPT, Pn1

older_adults_lifting_weightsAt 40, our bodies start that downhill slide from fit to frail.  As we age we become slower, our bones become brittle, our skin loses elasticity, our hair turns gray, our eyes don’t focus, and our mind becomes a little foggier.  But, one condition many of us develop in our early 40s is called Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass.

Muscle is what helps hold us together, keep us strong, aids our balance and coordination, and allow us to physically move. The bad news is, like death and taxes, Sarcopenia is inevitable.  Or, is it?

Recent studies show that Resistance Training (RT), can help slow down and even reverse the effects of Sarcopenia.  Many doctors now recommend RT over cardiovascular conditioning such as walking, biking and swimming.  You need muscle to do those activities.

If you lose muscle, you can’t walk, bike, swim or even do ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) such as going up and down stairs, taking objects off of shelves, or picking up your grandchildren to give them a hug.

Unfortunately, people who are middle-aged and older usually have no clue about how to do resistance training.  They don’t know enough about the proper exercises, equipment, techniques, weight loads, and nutrition needed to aid in muscle preservation and regeneration.  They join commercial gyms and wonder around haphazardly trying to figure out what to do with those fancy machines.

Most older individuals greatly underestimate their own strength and ability.  They go for the 2 lb. dumbbells when they can actually do biceps curls with much heavier loads.  They do just a couple of reps (with bad form) and stop at the point the muscle starts to burn and never push it to failure so it can grow.  And they don’t eat enough protein to repair muscle and stimulate new muscle growth.

One of my former clients was an 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s that stood about 5′ tall and weighed about 105 lbs. She could bench press her own weight and had no problem picking up a set of 20 lb. dumbbells for biceps curls.

This is why group fitness classes like boot camps are ideal for people even in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s.  Not that boot camps are programs designed for old people; they’re not.  But, good, professionally run programs are designed to allow people of any age or fitness level to work within their limits and abilities to gradually improve their strength and endurance. A good instructor will offer modifications when appropriate.

Group fitness workouts are all planned out and the instructor(s) demonstrate the exercises and equipment.  Participants learn how to exercise and eat properly and are educated on other topics that can benefit their long-term health, holding Sarcopenia at bay as long as possible.

So, whether you are approaching 40 or are well past it and into your 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond and you feel like your are losing strength and muscle, it’s up to you to keep Sarcopenia from zapping your body of muscle.

You CAN do something about it.  Search your area for age- and fitness-level-appropriate fitness programs or schedule a one-on-one fitness consultation and assessment with a reputable fitness professional to determine which program is right for you.

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Why Are Planks Important
Why Are Planks Important avatar

The Plank and Why It’s Necessary for Overall Fitness

By Brian Koning, ACE- CPT

Your arms are shaking.  Beads of sweat are dripping from your forehead.  You quads are burning.  Your lower back is starting to give out.  Your abs are cramping up.  Your trainer is yelling at you, “DON’T YOU DROP!”  You look up at the clock and its only 30 seconds into your plank.

Sound familiar?

The basic plank is full-body, isometric exercise that involves maintaining a difficult position for extended periods of time.  The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes.  It is used to strengthen your “core” which you can think of as a six-sided box that includes the muscles and joints around your trunk and pelvis.

Basic Elbow Plank

A strong core is vital to your body’s overall strength, even when it becomes to performing ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).  It can protect your back from injury, help you control your movements, make you more agile and improve your balance. A weak core makes you vulnerable to low back pain and injury. You may also suffer from poor posture and joint problems.

The primary muscles the plank works are the erector spinae, the rectus abdomimus and the transverse abdominus. The erector spinae is a large muscle that runs up the length of the back. It surrounds your spine and allows you to straighten your back and rotate side to side. The rectus abdominus is the front of your abdominal wall – the muscle associated with the enviable “six-pack.” The transverse abdominus is a deep abdominal muscle that helps hold in your internal organs and stabilizes the spine. A weak transverse abdominus is one of the major contributors to chronic low back pain.

Your stabilizing muscles are also engaged.  When you perform the plank on your forearms, you activate the trapezius and rhomboids at the upper back. All three deltoid muscles and the rotator cuff at the shoulder work to stabilize your torso. The pectorals and the serratus anterior which comprise the chest and muscles around the ribs are challenged. The glutes, the quadriceps at the front of the thigh and the gastrocnemius — the largest calf muscle – also assist when performing planks.

In our FitNow Boot Camp program, we not only work on the standard “elbow plank”, but we also do many variations of the plank. Side planks focus more on your “obliques”, the side abdominal muscles that help with bending and twisting.  We also perform rotating planks up/down side planks which move us away from the isometric exercise to one that improves joint mobility and range of motion.

If you want to improve your overall core, then slip a few 30-second planks into your morning exercise routine.  Then, each week, add another 15-30 seconds to your planks until you can comfortably perform a 3-minute plank without losing form.

Plank on!

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Too Busy? Exercise Needs to Take Priority
Too Busy? Exercise Needs to Take Priority avatar

Family, Friends and Co-workers Suffer When You Aren’t At Your Best

For more information on my FitNow Boot Camp Program, visit fitnowbootcamp.com

by Brian Koning, ACE CPT, CBCI, WKC Trainer, IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist

I occasionally receive emails from clients informing me that their lives have suddenly become too busy and that they can no longer participate in my FitNow Boot Camp program.  Having over 110 clients, that one person suddenly feels that they have become busier than all of the others.  That may be, but I have a lot of clients who are very, very busy and still find time spend 30 minutes a day with one of the best group exercise programs available anywhere.

I’m always saddened when I hear that life has gotten in the way.   Just like lack of weight loss is almost always related to the inability to make healthy nutritional choices, lack of time to exercise is directly related to one’s inability to set priorities and put themselves first.  Health and fitness suddenly take a back seat when it should be in the driver’s seat.

Truth be told, when life becomes so hectic and perceptively out of control, this is the time to make exercise the number one priority.  Without it, a chain of unfortunate events can exacerbate stress, bring on illness, reduce sleep, and adversely affect the ability to function at work, at home, and socially.

Who suffers?  Your family, friends, and co-workers become collateral damage when you aren’t operating at peak levels.

You see, exercise has so many benefits when it comes to managing stress and increasing productivity.  I know, because I am what many would describe as a “Type A” personality.  I am always on the go.  I am prone to a high level of stress.  And, I battle manic depression – something I was clinically diagnosed with about 16 years ago.  If I’m not careful and don’t include daily exercise as part of my daily routine, I will simply crash and burn.  Planning my workouts and keeping them short and efficient helps me find balance in the other areas of my life including my work, marriage, family relationships, and recreational activities.  I organize the rest of my day around exercise.

If you are not putting yourself and your health first by finding time for daily exercise, please consider these benefits…

1. Increase Energy and Productivity

Spending time exercising helps increase your energy and strength levels. Exercise by improving the efficiency of your heart and breathing results in more energy, and this energy boost enables you to be more productive in other areas of your life.  When you exercise, your energy and strength levels increase.  You’ll take in more oxygen and strengthen your heart and lungs.

2. Improve Your Self-Esteem

Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.  Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.  Endorphins act as an analgesic, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives.

3. Relieve Stress

Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.

4. Improve Sleep

Exercise can strengthen circadian rhythms, promoting daytime alertness and helping bring on sleepiness at night. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep for people with sleep disorders, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that regular exercisers were significantly more likely to report sleeping well on most nights than people who were not physically active. Research has shown exercise can help to improve not only the quantity of sleep but also the quality: studies show daytime physical activity may stimulate longer periods of slow-wave sleep, the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep.

5. Minimize Downtime from Sickness

Recent studies have shown that there are physiological changes in the immune system as a response to exercise. During moderate exercise immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. After exercise ends, the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes a bit more long-lasting.

According to professor David Nieman, Dr. PH., of Appalachian State University, when moderate exercise is repeated on a near-daily basis there is a cumulative effect that leads to a long-term immune response. His research showed that those who walk at 70-75 percent of their VO2 Max for 40 minutes per day had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who don’t exercise.

6. Increase Life Expectancy

According to a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS Medicine, regular exercise can extend life expectancy.  It took as little as the metabolic equivalent of a 10-minute daily walk to start extending one’s life span, the study found. Those who adhered to recommendations to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise,  or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise, per week, reaped gains of roughly 3.5 years.  While those with a greater commitment to physical activity continued to increase their average life spans, the authors found that the resulting increase in life span slowed as participants’ exercise levels rose beyond twice the recommended minimum.

So, instead of throwing in that sweaty towel when you are faced with new challenges, sit down and make a list of priorities.  But when you do, the only thing that absolutely, positively can’t be moved is that time slot you give yourself for exercise.  If your doctor told you today that you have cancer and that the only way you would live is to schedule a 3-hour chemotherapy appointment every single day, would you tell him you are too busy and just not go?  Of course not! You’d rearrange your schedule.

I know this for a fact, because my wife and I learned our son had cancer back in 2003.  We rearranged our schedules for more than three years because he needed treatment.  Because of it, we now have a very healthy, cancer-free 11-year-old son!  So… it can be done.

If you just take the same approach with exercise, you’ll feel better, look better and perform better!

References

Steve Oades, “Why Busy People Need Exercise Time”, CraveTime.com, 24 February, 2010

WebMd.com, “Exercise and Depression”, 2012

Fleur Hupston, “How Exercise Relieves Stress and Anxiety”, NaturalNews.com, 2010

Michael J. Breus, “Better Sleep Found by Exercising on a Regular Basis”, Psychology Today, SleepNewzz

Elizabeth Quinn, “Exercise and Immunity: Can too much exercise decrease your immunity and make you sick?” Spotsmedicine.About.com; April 04, 2011

Melissa Healy, Study finds exercise adds to life expectancy, even for obese”, Los Angeles Times, 2012

 

I occasionally receive emails from clients informing me that their lives have suddenly become too busy and that they can no longer participate in my FitNow Boot Camp program. Having over 110 clients, that one person suddenly feels that they have become busier than all of the others. That may be, but I have a lot of clients who are very, very busy and still find time spend 30 minutes a day with one of the best group exercise programs available anywhere.

I’m always saddened when I hear that life has gotten in the way. Just like lack of weight loss is almost always related to the inability to make healthy nutritional choices, lack of time to exercise is directly related to one’s inability to set priorities and put themselves first. Health and fitness suddenly take a back seat when it should be in the driver’s seat.

Truth be told, when life becomes so hectic and perceptively out of control, this is the time to make exercise the number one priority. Without it, a chain of unfortunate events can exacerbate stress, bring on illness, reduce sleep, and adversely affect the ability to function at work, at home, and socially.

Who suffers? Your family, friends, and co-workers become collateral damage when you aren’t operating at peak levels.

You see, exercise has so many benefits when it comes to managing stress and increasing productivity. I know, because I am what many would describe as a “Type A” personality. I am always on the go. I am prone to a high level of stress. And, I battle manic depression – something I was clinically diagnosed with about 16 years ago. If I’m not careful and don’t include daily exercise as part of my daily routine, I will simply crash and burn. Planning my workouts and keeping them short and efficient helps me find balance in the other areas of my life including my work, marriage, family relationships, and recreational activities. I organize the rest of my day around exercise.

If you are not putting yourself and your health first by finding time for daily exercise, please consider these benefits…

1. Increase Energy and Productivity

Spending time exercising helps increase your energy and strength levels. Exercise by improving the efficiency of your heart and breathing results in more energy, and this energy boost enables you to be more productive in other areas of your life. When you exercise, your energy and strength levels increase. You’ll take in more oxygen and strengthen your heart and lungs.

2. Improve Your Self-Esteem

Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Endorphins act as an analgesic, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives.

3. Relieve Stress

Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.

4. Improve Sleep

Exercise can strengthen circadian rhythms, promoting daytime alertness and helping bring on sleepiness at night. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep for people with sleep disorders, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that regular exercisers were significantly more likely to report sleeping well on most nights than people who were not physically active. Research has shown exercise can help to improve not only the quantity of sleep but also the quality: studies show daytime physical activity may stimulate longer periods of slow-wave sleep, the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep.

5. Minimize Downtime from Sickness

Recent studies have shown that there are physiological changes in the immune system as a response to exercise. During moderate exercise immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. After exercise ends, the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes a bit more long-lasting.

According to professor David Nieman, Dr. PH., of Appalachian State University, when moderate exercise is repeated on a near-daily basis there is a cumulative effect that leads to a long-term immune response. His research showed that those who walk at 70-75 percent of their VO2 Max for 40 minutes per day had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who don’t exercise.

6. Increase Life Expectancy

According to a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS Medicine, regular exercise can extend life expectancy. It took as little as the metabolic equivalent of a 10-minute daily walk to start extending one’s life span, the study found. Those who adhered to recommendations to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise, per week, reaped gains of roughly 3.5 years. While those with a greater commitment to physical activity continued to increase their average life spans, the authors found that the resulting increase in life span slowed as participants’ exercise levels rose beyond twice the recommended minimum.

References

Steve Oades, “Why Busy People Need Exercise Time”, CraveTime.com, 24 February, 2010

WebMd.com, “Exercise and Depression”, 2012

Fleur Hupston, “How Exercise Relieves Stress and Anxiety”, NaturalNews.com, 2010

Michael J. Breus, “Better Sleep Found by Exercising on a Regular Basis”, Psychology Today, SleepNewzz

Elizabeth Quinn, “Exercise and Immunity: Can too much exercise decrease your immunity and make you sick?” Spotsmedicine.About.com; April 04, 2011

Melissa Healy, Study finds exercise adds to life expectancy, even for obese”, Los Angeles Times, 2012

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Work Hard, Be Smart, Build a Life
Work Hard, Be Smart, Build a Life avatar

Life Lessons from An Unlikely Source Also Applies to Fitness

I’ve been a little lackadaisical about writing blog posts lately.  But my daughter, Kaitlin, shared a video with me last night that warranted me weighing in on a very inspirational speech made by a very unlikely celebrity, Chris Kutcher.

Who is Chris Kutcher and why was he making a speech? Well, you probably know him as Ashton Kutcher.  As he reveals in the video, “Ashton” is really his middle name.  He was “Chris” until the age of 19 when he got into acting.

You see, Ashton was an awards recipient at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards earlier this week.  Instead of bringing out his goofy persona that we’ve come to know through his movies and televisions shows, he actually delivered and excellent, well-thought-out, 4-minute piece of advice for today’s youth.

But upon watching the speech a couple more times, I realized that his advice is for anyone of any age.  And more importantly, it can apply to health and fitness.

Before you read my thoughts, take a few minutes to watch the speech.

Pretty motivating for a Hollywood celeb, huh?

So, how does what Kutcher said translate into the fitness world?  Follow me, here.

1. Opportunity – “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”  The same goes for getting the results you desire through exercise and eating healthy.  Getting and staying fit looks a lot like hard work.  There are no quick fixes, magic potions, or short cuts.  You set a goal, reach that goal, and set another goal.  When you see someone and think, “Wow! They look great. Must be nice,” just know that person most likely busts their butt in the gym and watches what they eat.  Sure, some people resort to extreme measures like plastic surgery, liposuction, gastric bypass, and other cosmetic solutions.  But most people spend time exercising and eating healthy.  Every day, you have an opportunity to live healthy.  Opportunity does look a lot like hard work.

2. Being Sexy – “The sexiest thing in the entire world… is being really smart… and being thoughtful… and being generous.  Everything else… is just crap.”  He says that “crap” is stuff that people sell to you to make you “feel like less”.  In fitness, we are bombarded by images of perfect bodies.  These images of beautiful women in bikinis or lingerie and men with bulging biceps and perfect pecs can discourage us and make us feel like we’ll never be pretty enough or handsome enough.

We also see television and print ads for exercise equipment to get six pack abs, tiny waists, perfect legs, toned arms, and more.  But as Kutcher says, “It’s crap! Don’t buy it!”

Being “smart” will make you sexy.  Being smart about exercise and nutrition will make you even sexier.  This goes back to “opportunity” and working hard.  Be smart about exercise.  Be smart about what you eat to fuel your workouts and to recover.  Hydrate properly.  Get enough sleep.  Reduce stress.  When you are smart, you will be sexy.

3. Build a Life – Kutcher reflects on his portrayal of the late Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, in an upcoming move.  He says that “Everything around us that we call ‘life’ was made up by people that are no smarter than you.” His point, while maybe a bit of a stretch, is that we all have potential.  “Build a life. Don’t live one.” This is especially true in fitness.

No matter what age we are, we can make improvements to our body through exercise and healthy eating.  You are no different than the person who is a perfect physical specimen. The difference is, they applied themselves more.  They learned how to exercise properly.  They understand nutrition.

You can build a healthy life by using your potential. If you are overweight, get winded walking to the mailbox, don’t sleep well, or feel sick and tired, then you have the power to do something about it.  Every day, people are taking their lives back by exercising and making healthy food choices. Don’t just live a healthy life… build a healthy life; do it for you and for your family.

Chris Kutcher was just a normal kid that worked hard.  We’ve gotten to know the goofy characters that “Ashton Kutcher” portrays.  But make no mistake, he’s turned hard work into opportunity, he’s smart (some would say that’s sexy), and he’s built a life as a successful actor by not accepting that people in his profession were any smarter than him.

Starting today, seize the opportunity to work hard.  Be smart.  Don’t accept mediocrity.  Work for that body and for your health.  That’s what I’m going to do.

To your health!

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Chris Jordan Joins FitNow Training Team
Chris Jordan Joins FitNow Training Team avatar

Chris Jordan is the newest trainer to join the FitNow Group Fitness team in Westfield and will be instructing our boot camp programs and helping with fitness nutrition.

Chris, 28, is a 2003 graduate of Carmel High School and is youngest of five children and father of two. As a child, he was very athletic playing soccer, basketball and rugby. After high school, he started working for Getchell Brothers building houses for Arbor Homes and helped build some luxurious barns for prize winning horses in the Paris, Kentucky area.

In December of 2009, after the arrival of his first child Naomi, Chris sought out a new career path with his father’s business mitigating homes for radon. Even though work was steady and all was well, he felt an itch to do something else that had a greater impact on people’s lives.

In July of 2012, Chris and Liz welcomed their second daughter, Amelia.

“With Amelia’s birth, I felt an urgency to take my family’s life in a new direction. With the trend of smart phones and video games, kids aren’t getting much physical activity outside of the home. Obviously, I don’t want my children to fall into the same trend.”

Chris was inspired to jump into the fitness industry and joined the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) program studying fitness nutrition and pursuing his personal trainer certification. He successfully earned both certifications.

Outside of spending time with Liz and his daughters, some of Chris’ favorite activities include bowling, paintball, and woodworking.

“Being a parent has really made me appreciate the opportunities of “me time”, and while most of my hobbies aren’t baby- or toddler-appropriate and have been lost in the daily duties of life, I so much more enjoy the new activities that allow me to spend time with Liz and our girls.”

While his fitness education is ongoing, he’s excited to share his passion for fitness and what he knows to help anyone and everyone achieve a healthy fit lifestyle.

“Chris has a great attitude, a solid understanding of exercise science, and an eagerness to learn more about the group fitness industry. He’ll be a valuable asset for FitNow and the positive direction that the company is moving,” says FitCamp owner, Brian Koning.

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14-Day Fat Furnace Meal Plan
14-Day Fat Furnace Meal Plan avatar

Sometimes all it takes to get back on the road to a healthy you is to just dive in and start exercising and eating healthy each and every day.  If you can get past the first two weeks, you have a good chance of sticking with the program long term.

At FitNow,  I’ve adopted a boot camp & nutrition program that I will implement from time-to-time called the 14-Day Fat Furnace.  This includes attending two weeks of our fitness boot camp program and committing to working out at least six days a week for those two weeks.  The second, and most important, part of the program is to start eating healthy.  Combined, this program can help you lose between 4 and 15 lbs over two weeks and drop a couple of dress/pants sizes.  But, you have to be 100% committed for two weeks. If you are only 90%, 75%, or 50% invested, then you can’t expect the results.

The meal plans for this program are included below.  These are healthy meal plans and NOT A DIET.  You will eat sufficient calories through healthy foods.  Make sure to watch portion sizes as we often underestimate what an actual portion size is.  You may even want to purchase an inexpensive food scale at Walmart.

There are two meal plans… one is designed for women or smaller people and is based on 1,300 calories per day with a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fat.  The other program is 1,700 calories and is suitable for men.

The meal plan provides main meals and snacks for seven days.  It is meant to be repeated, giving you a total of 14 days of balanced meals.

If there is something on the meal plan that you don’t like, then find a suitable replacement.  For example, if you don’t like mushrooms, substitute a green vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or spinach.  If you don’t like fish, choose chicken or a very lean cut of beef (remove any fat).  But, the closer you stick to this plan, the better.

To download your meal plan, click on the appropriate link below. Then print out the plans and create your shopping list.

FatFlush 1300 Calorie Meal Plan

FatFlush 1700 Calorie Meal Plan

Any questions, please let me know!

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Boot Camp Games
Boot Camp Games avatar

Games take the “work” out of “workout”

“When I was a kid…”

As soon as they hear me say this, MY kids start rolling their eyes and mumbling to each other under their breath, “Here goes dad with another exaggerated story about how hard life was when he was growing up.”

Neighborhood kickball games were a great form of exercise and fitness.

I ignore them and continue, “… we use to go outside and play games like Kick the Can, Hide and Seek, Kick Ball, Touch Football, and Flashlight Tag. That’s how we got our exercise.”

Unfortunately, most kids don’t get it.  They think exercise is moving your thumbs at lightning speed to send 5,000 text messages a month.  Or, they use a game controller to make some computer generated monster or soldier run around virtual worlds and hunting down and killing other monsters or bad guys.  Riding their bicycle, climbing trees or organizing a neighborhood game of Capture the Flag isn’t even on most kids’ radars today.  And that’s why we have a childhood obesity problem in the United States!

To us, these were just outdoor activities we engaged in to pass time.  To our bodies, it was exercise masked as fun and games.

Recently, I’ve been trying to bring back more of that childhood fun by incorporating games into my FitCamp workouts.  To my FitCampers, these are silly contests that manage to turn VERY competitive at times.  And when they get caught up in the moment, they forget that they are actually exercising and strengthening their bodies.

This week, we played a game of crab soccer.  Each team had to “crab walk” while trying to pass and kick a stability ball through their goal.  Card Flip was another game we played. One team spread 26 cards face up throughout the gym while the spread 26 cards face down.  The challenge was to to flip over as many of the opposing team’s playing cards over a 2-minute period.  FitCampers ran, squatted, lunged, crawled, and dove to flip over the other team’s cards.  What THEY thought would be an easy task ended up blasting their heart rate while working their quads, calves, glutes, and core.  And the Commando Crawl relay game had FitCampers crawling through a tunnel formed by the bodies of their teammates; this was a fun finisher that worked the core, shoulders, arms and legs and also raised their heart rates.

Games, contests and competitions are what set FitCamp apart from commercial gyms or other group fitness programs.  Can you honestly say that you have fun working out alone in a gym or sitting on a spinning bike for 60 minutes (OUCH!)?   When I worked out in a gym alone, it’s boring and the clock can’t move fast enough.  But you CAN have fun while exercising.  Boot camp games like we play at FitCamp will get your competitive juices flowing, your heart pounding, and your muscles burning.   The best thing is… you probably won’t even notice!

Call or email me today to try three free FitCamp sessions.  Game on!

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