12 Days of Fitness

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Complete This Fitness Challenge Before the New Year!

We’ve all heard the song many, many, MANY times this holiday season so far- and you’re welcome for getting the tune back into your head… But have you heard of the 12 days of FITNESS? That’s the workout I’m challenging you to complete before the New Year! And you’ll love it so much that you’re likely to add it into your daily/weekly workout routine.

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Give the Gift of Fitness!

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Looking for Gift Ideas For Your Favorite Fitness Lover?

It’s holiday time- which is the season for gifting. As if picking out the perfect gift for someone wasn’t hard enough, the typical sweets and homemade cookies just won’t work for your health conscious friends. This is the perfect time though to help them achieve their goals and pick out the perfect gift to keep them on their fitness track, not derail them with temptation. Read More

Fit After 50 – Exercise Tips For Men

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It’s Never Too Late To Get Started! Here’s Some Fitness Tips for Men Over 50

When men hit 50, their testosterone levels drop, excess weight deposits in the mid-section and chest, and along with that comes the increase risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer. Most men over 50 are looking for a way to look and feel better and also a way to start turning back the clock dial. Exercise and proper nutrition will help you do that- even after 50. If you’ve been there before but life took over and you need to get back to it, or even if you’ve never had a reason to be fit and active because you were blessed with good genes- it’s never too late to start and get on-track to a longer and healthier life.

Here are some tips to men over 50 getting back on-track

  • – Try to get in 30mins of cardiovascular exercise per day at least 5 days per week and 30mins of resistance training 3-5 times per week for overall health and fitness.

  • – Nutrition moderation is key. Limit alcohol and high calorie treats that you take in daily and you’re more likely to stay on-track and hit the gym.

  • – Warmup and cooldown before and after EVERY workout. Remember, you’re not as young as you used to be and with that comes pulled muscles and injuries. By incorporating a brisk walk and stretching before a workout, and stretching after workouts, will help limit injuries.
  • – Don’t be afraid of the weights! If you’re looking for overall fitness, find weights that you can do 15-20 reps with. If you’re looking for muscle gain and toning find weights that you can do 10-15 reps with. Make sure you include ALL muscle groups, and don’t skip leg day : )

  • – Find fitness activities that work well for you and your schedule. Biking, swimming, golf, ect are all good for your health and fitness. You don’t have to be in the gym every single day, but you should be moving every single day.

  • – Integrate interval training into your training schedule. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or even bored with the same old workouts. Build in high-intensity bursts into every 4-5 minutes of exercise. This will help you prepare for daily activities that normally leave you breathless and improve your heart and cardio health overall. It also increases your metabolism for hours after your workout.

  • – Include flexibility and mobility workouts into your weekly plan. This will help limit injury and daily aches and pains and help reduce recovery time between workouts.

Here’s a workout to get you back on-track with fitness over 50:

3-5 sets through + 20-30 mins cardio at end:

  • – 15 x DB thruster
  • – 15 x DB bench press
  • – 20 x alternating lunges / DB curl and press
  • – 15 x DB bent-over row
  • – 15 x bench dips
  • – 40sec elbow plank

Need a place to workout? Grab a VIP pass and hit one of the 23 St. Louis area Club Fitness locations!

Fitness Tips & Tricks For Tailgating Season

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How to Stay On-track and Still Root on your Favorite Team

It’s football season and we all know that leads to football games and tailgating and bonfires. That doesn’t mean that we need to forget about our fitness goals completely but we also shouldn’t have to miss a game. We can stay on-track and still participate in the festivities- if we plan ahead and be health-conscious, there will be no need to “restart on Monday.” Here are some tips for tailgating healthier without feeling left-out or missing a day on your fitness journey:

    • · Eat breakfast/lunch before heading out- you don’t want to be stuck in front of a table of treats and unhealthy food when you’re hungry- load up on a protein-packed breakfast first to ensure you eat with your mind, not your eyes.
    • · Get a workout in before you leave- this will limit the guilt from indulging a little and also ensure you keep in mind your goals. If you do a high-intensity or a weight training workout, you’ll be burning calories for hours after your workout too.
    • · Find dishes that you can grill or bake instead of frying- baked wings vs. fried wings… grilled chicken vs. fried chicken… you won’t miss out on taste by grilling or baking your proteins- but you will skip the extra calories and the pains you feel in your gut later on.
    • · Moderation is key- limit your alcohol consumption and snacks/treats/desserts. I’m not saying cut it out completely, but if you limit to one trip to the dessert table, or 1 beverage at a time vs. double-fisting, you’re more likely to keep on-track and last through the tailgating festivities.
    • · Stay hydrated- drink 1-2 glasses of water per every alcoholic drink to keep you hydrated and from over-indulging. This will let you feel better the next day too and limit hangovers and guilt.

Try these exercises for 3 sets through before you get your tailgating on to get you ready for the big game:

    • · Squat/alternating shoulder press over (for hauling bags of ice and carrying trays of food) x20 reps
    • · Alternating step-ups w/ bicep curls (for scaling bleachers to get to your seats) x20 reps
    • · Mountain climbers (for pushing pulling heavy tables and coolers) x20 reps
    • · Burpee push-ups (for football or cornhole games you’ll be playing) x10 reps
    • · 20 yard sprint (for when you need to hurry to the bathrooms between plays) x2 reps
Need a place to workout after, even during, the big game? Download a Free Gym Pass today!

Fit After 50 – Exercise Tips For Women

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It’s Never Too Late To Get Started! Here’s Some Fitness Tips for Women Over 50

It’s never too late to get started on a fitness routine- and as we get older, it’s even more important to be active and fit. As women age the risks all increase for osteoporosis, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes- not to mention losing muscle tone and decreasing bone density. Exercise – ESPECIALLY RESISTANCE TRAINING – can help decrease your risks of all of these. Exercising not only limits your risk of chronic diseases, but it helps improve your mental health, can improve your bone density, improves your flexibility and balance, helps you sleep better, and your overall quality of life. Exercise needs to be part of your normal routine. Whether you have been active before and need to get back into it or whether you have never been into a fitness routing before, the time to start is now!

Tips for getting active for women over 50:

  • – Try to get in 30mins of cardiovascular exercise per day at least 5 days per week and 30mins of resistance training 3-5 times per week for overall health and fitness.

  • – Don’t skip meals- a lot of women over 50 skip breakfast and many don’t eat until it’s dinner time- this is slowing down your metabolism significantly and not providing you with the nutrients and energy you need throughout the day.

  • – Find the time of day that’s best for you to workout- if you can’t get to sleep at night after working out too late, find a time to go throughout the morning or day- find whatever works for your body and schedule it in.

  • – Include stretching and flexibility in your weekly fitness routine- warmup before each workout, cooldown and stretch at end, and incorporate some yoga to improve your balance and flexibility and limit injuries.

  • – Don’t be afraid of weights! Women over 50 NEED resistance training to improve posture, improve bone density, and help tame symptom of menopause- it also limits risks of diseases and helps control weight and belly fat. Meet with a Personal Trainer to walk you through the weights at the gym and don’t be afraid to try them.

  • – Find a class to join- this will keep it fun and give you something to look forward to, but you also get the social aspect of other people like you trying to have fun and get fit. Silver sneakers, aqua aerobics, yoga, dance classes/zumba, cycling, and pound are some popular classes that you can ease yourself into.

Try these no-equipment resistance training moves to get started

2-4 sets through + 20-30 mins cardio at end:
  • – 20 x Air squats
  • – 10 x Modified pushups (against wall or hands on a bench)
  • – 30 sec – Elbow Plank
  • – 10 x Hip bridge
  • – 20 x Quadruped (also known as “bird-dog” exercise)
  • – 20 x Walking lunges

Back to School, Back To You

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5 ways to get the focus back on your fitness goals during this busy time of year

Now that school is back in session for a good month now, and you’re more in a routine of who needs to be where on what day, it’s the perfect time to reassess your fitness goals and what it will take for you to achieve them. If your goal is to lose weight – tone up – or get overall fit, now poses a great time to get moving (outside possibly) while still enjoying your classic fall traditions and fitting everything into your day. It will take some extra planning to fit everything into your busy schedule, but here’s how to get started.

Here are 5 ways to get the focus back on YOU and your fitness goals during this busy time of year:

  • – Find the time that’s right for you- the time changes and season changes get to us- some people workout better in the morning, some people work out better in the evening- figure out YOUR TIME and make it a priority to get a workout in.

  • – Schedule it- your calendar is now full with school and sports and work and obligations- and we are a schedule-driven society. Put your workouts in your calendar to remind you (and anyone else in charge of scheduling) that your workouts are important- and stick to them. We have 700+ Group Workouts a week. Find a Group Class at a time that works for you!

  • – Plan non-gym workouts too- let’s face it, you can’t always make it to the gym for an hour to yourself- there are plenty of ways to get a workout in without getting to the gym: workout DVD’s, walking/interval training outside, bike rides, impromptu game with the kids- anything to get you moving instead of sitting.

  • – Meet up with someone = accountability- it’s sometimes easy to talk yourself out of a workout, but if you have someone that is waiting for you at the gym to workout, it’s harder to let them down. Find an accountability buddy and plan what classes you will take together or when to meet at the gym or track- if we limit excuses, we are more likely to achieve our fitness goals. Want to invite a friend to the gym with you? Have them download a VIP Pass!

  • – Keep a set of workout clothes and workout shoes in the car- We all get those opportunities to get a free 30mins to ourselves, but we ‘forgot our shoes’ or ‘don’t have the right clothes’ to get a quick workout in. By planning ahead this will allow you to maximize an extra break at work, a kid’s sports practice instead of sitting in a car, or whenever you find free time to squeeze an extra workout in.

How To Do Better Push-Ups

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Mastering the push-up is easy when you say goodbye to these common technique issues.

In a previous article we learned that doing push-ups on your knees can be just as effective as doing them on your toes. Now, we’re going to address a few push-up technique issues that could be holding you back from realizing your push-up potential.

ISSUE #1: The Rocker A lot of kids learned to do push-ups on their knees with their feet up in the air and it carries over into adulthood. It’s probably taught this way because the lower leg is thought to act as a counter-balance to the upper body (think of a see-saw!) and it makes the push-up a little bit easier. But there are two big reasons why you should lose this habit immediately:
  • – The distribution of mass in our bodies is such that the mass of the lower leg is tiny compared to the mass of the upper body. Imagine an adult on a see-saw with a child: it’s not going anywhere! In exchange for the small gain of the counterbalance effect, you’re essentially grinding your knees into the floor. The rocking effect requires the knee joint to act as a fulcrum on the floor. The patella, or knee cap, is floating in front of the joint and, as we rock on the knee, it gets mashed around, causing discomfort and possibly pain. 
  • – Having your knees as the only two points of contact on the floor can make you unstable. If you’re working to try to get stronger in the push-up, this instability can take your focus away from the pushing motion, instead you are simply concentrating on not falling over. When this happens you’re no longer isolating the push muscles and it makes it that much harder to get stronger.
Here’s the solution: Rather than keeping your feet dangling up in the air, place your toes solidly on the floor. With your toes on the floor, you’ll find that the tibial tuberosity (the head of the bone in your lower leg) actually makes contact with the floor rather than the patella. And the four points of contact (knees and toes) will make your body more stable so you can focus on isolating the arms and chest.

ISSUE #2: The T When most people think of a push-up position, they think of the capital letter T – the arms are out wide and even with the shoulders.

In this position, the motion is outside of the line of action of the pectoral muscles, so the anterior deltoid and muscles of the shoulder become the primary movers. Since the shoulder muscles are relatively weaker when compared to the pectorals, the force generated is less. So if you choose to do push-ups in the T position, you may find that you struggle to do push-ups on your toes, or simply tire sooner.

Instead of thinking of a T, it’s a good idea to replicate a position that’s closer to an arrow shape.

When your arms are in this position the hands are in line with the center of the chest and the motion is within the line of action of the pectorals. This allows the bigger chest muscles to take over and the shoulder muscles are used for stabilization. When the larger chest muscles are recruited, it becomes easier to do the push-up on your toes and it takes longer to fatigue.

ISSUE #3: The Eccentric If you’re still struggling to do push-ups on your toes, give this one last thing a try. Start in a plank position with your knees off the floor and lower yourself down into the push-up. At the bottom, drop your knees to the floor and push yourself back up until your arms are extended. Lift your knees and repeat. Why does this work? It’s taking advantage of a well-known training principle: your muscles are stronger while they are extending (eccentric) than they are while they’re contracting (concentric). On the gym floor, training the eccentric phase of a movement is called “negative” training and is commonly used to build strength once you’ve hit a plateau using traditional techniques. Follow this approach and over time you’ll find that you’ll get stronger and develop confidence in your ability to do the push-up. After a while, you’ll be able to mix in a few full on-the-toe push-ups.

If you’re really keen to master the toe push-up give this 16-day push-up challenge a go.

-Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez is a North Carolina-based BODYPUMP and LES MILLS GRIT trainer who also teaches BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, and BODYBALANCE. He is a proponent of purposeful training to improve movement and performance, embraces the idea of the unsteady state, and as a master trainer for Trigger Point Performance, he regularly shares his expertise in self myofascial recovery. He is also a mechanical engineer.

This piece originally appeared on

In Defense of Upright Rows

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It’s been tarnished as a shoulder wrecker and called out as the one move that will destroy your shoulders. Not true. Those who bad-mouth the upright row should simply consider other technique options.

With so much criticism around upright rows, it’s little surprise many believe should be scratched from your workout regime. After all, there are other ways to strengthen your traps and deltoids, right? Think again. Rather than ditch them, upright rows are one move you really want to master. This is because the upright row movement is a key element of the clean and press – so you can’t get all the functional strength benefits from a safe and effective clean and press without mastering the upright row.

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The Heart Rate Tracking Mistakes To Avoid

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Using a tracker to monitor your body’s response to group exercise can be insightful and motivational too. Les Mills Trainer Jim Berg explains how to track your heart rate for best effect.

If you choose the right group fitness workout there’s no real need to track your heart rate – the workout will be scientifically shaped and tested to push your body into the right heart rate zones at the right times. But heart rate tracking can still be very valuable. Les Mills Trainer Jim Berg says that monitoring your heart rate is great for feedback, motivation and keeping check on your training load. So we asked him more about how to do it right.

Why should you start monitoring your heart rate during group fitness workouts?

By becoming familiar with your heart rate during a specific workout you’ll see from session to session if you are improving and pushing yourself as hard as you should. You’ll learn when you can push harder, and when you need to recover during the workout. You´ll also be able to detect early warning signs if something is wrong with your health or your stress-levels. 

With a heart rate monitor it’s easy to learn, grow, and improve your understanding about how your body responds to exercise. It is great for reflection and comparison, so that you can monitor fluctuations and establish norms. It is also particularly valuable if you’re a fan of high-intensity interval training, as recent research highlights the importance of avoiding too much time in the 90 percent-plus max zone.

So how can you adjust your workout if you’re doing a structured group fitness workout?

In a group fitness workout everyone is doing the same thing and truly experiencing the “group high”, but that still leaves a lot of room for personal variation. Les Mills Instructors will always provide options so you can always adjust the intensity by choosing easier or harder options depending on your training objective.

What are the common misconceptions about heart rate training?

The idea that more is better – that your heart rate should be high throughout a workout – is definitely one misconception. Another is the concept of using heart rate as a “high score” where the only goal is to achieve a specific heart rate and not consider the overall picture; what the heart tells you together with how you’re feeling and your knowledge about your own body. You should use your heart rate as just one tool to train smarter, and not aim to “hit the jackpot” based on heart rate alone.

What’s the one thing to know about heart rate monitoring that most people don’t?

Maximum heart rates vary a lot, so setting training zones based on values determined by the rule of thumb – 220 minus your age – won’t always deliver the opportunity for accurate monitoring. That the main factor for controlling and adjusting workout intensity should be based on your individual threshold and daily capacity, not maximum heart rate. If you’re really serious, having your individual threshold determined in a lab will allow you to accurately monitor which training zone you are in.

What is the biggest mistake you can make when interpreting heart rate data?

Thinking that “more time in red is always better”, and not comparing it to what you’ve done before. The best proof that you are fitter than before is when you are able to maintain a higher heart rate for longer than you used to, or when your heart rate is lower while running or cycling at the same speed or output. So you need to look back to look forward, and determine how you are tracking.  

So, heart rate monitoring is clearly valuable, but also part of a bigger picture

Yes, it´s a truly great way to improve your understanding of your personal physiological response to exercise over time. Even if you’re not a tech geek who gets obsessed with the training diagrams and charts that are available, it’s a great, simple way to capture more feedback than simply how your workout “felt”. 

-Emma Hogan for Fit Planet

This piece originally appeared on

What is HIIT?

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High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective way to burn fat and calories in a short period of time.  HIIT training involves periods of high intensity exercise followed by periods of rest to allow the body to recover enough to begin the next high intensity interval.  To be most effective, periods of exercise should be challenging and periods of rest only long enough to allow the body to recover to complete the next set.  Most interval training sessions last between 10 and 60 minutes. 

Now that we know what HIIT is, let’s talk about why it is so effective.  The intense exercise portion of interval training pushes the body to its peak for a period of time.  This is maximizing caloric burn.  You would not be able to maintain this intensity for longer than a few minutes (at most), so the short rest intervals allow the body to work at an intense interval for longer periods of total time than one would be able to complete in one long steady state session.  For example, let’s say you burn 15 calories per minute on the rower doing your high intensity intervals for 10 intervals.  That’s 150 calories (15 x 10=150).  If you were to go all-out on the rower for 10 minutes straight, the first minute you’d burn 15 calories, but after that (without rest) your body will fatigue and you will burn fewer calories each minute. 

HIIT has also been show to increase excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).  EPOC is the additional calories that you burn after your workout is over.  Have you ever finished a really intense exercise session and noticed that 5-10 minutes later you are still sweating? Or your heart rate is still elevated?  This is EPOC at work.  What make EPOC so cool is that you are burning calories WITHOUT even working out!  HIIT has been shown to increase this EPOC to higher levels than traditional steady state cardio.  Who doesn’t want to burn more calories without needing to do more working out?

Still not sure how to incorporate HIIT into your exercise program?  Check out Burn Zone and find out how easy it is to get HIIT!