Some of you may ask WHY is heart rate training important? Who cares? What does it all mean? What percentage am I aiming for? What affects my heart rate? Let me tell you . . .
Heart rate training guides your training intensity. How hard you are working (intensity) affects your performance and your goals. Knowing your heart rate while training gives you immediate feedback on how hard you are working. This will allow you to adjust your intensity “on the spot”. Class is 30 minutes and you want to make the most of your time in here. Because this is an interval training program, you will aim for 80-90% of your max (yellow & red) with some 70% (green) mixed in there.
Several things can affect your heart rate on a day to day basis. For instance, sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration, body weight, fitness level, heavy training, fatigue, adrenaline, competition, and mental focus – just to name a few. So, if you come into the studio and you’ve had a really stressful day, your heart rate will be higher. Coming into the studio anxious and nervous can increase your heart rate the same as moderate-intensity exercise! People with more body weight will have higher heart rates compared to those with less body weight. Someone who is more trained than another will have a lower resting heart rate and will require greater effort to get into their training zone. This is because their heart is more efficient at pumping blood throughout the body, thus it needs more stimulus to challenge it. Obviously the best scenario is to be hydrated, have slept 7-8 hrs, nutritionally fueled, and not so stressed. This will give you the most accurate results possible.
The average calorie burn during a 30-minute circuit training class is 250 calories. However, this is influenced by gender, intensity, body weight, and age. You can burn more or less calories depending on how hard you train. The great thing about our interval training program is that the intensity is higher than the average 30-minute class. This means that you continue to burn calories AFTER your workout. The number of calories burned during a workout is just one glimpse of your calories. However, if you’re a numbers person, let’s compare the in-class calorie burn to other workouts. Below is an example of how many calories are burned by an average 155-lb person during 30 minutes of exercise from Harvard Health Publications.
  • General weight lifting: 112 calories
  • Tai Chi: 149 calories
  • Horseback riding: 149 calories
  • Walking 3.5 mph: 149 calories
  • General stair step machine: 223 calories
  • Walk/jog <10 min/mile: 223 calories
  • Vigorous stationary rowing: 260 calories
  • Circuit training: 298 calories
  • General elliptical: 335 calories
  • Step aerobics: 372 calories
  • Jogging about 10 min/mile pace: 372 calories
  • Running 9 min/mile pace: 409 calories

Typically, larger muscle groups with greater loads (sandbag, kettlebell, etc) will increase your heart rate to a higher intensity compared to smaller muscle groups, i.e. squats vs. bicep curls. However, we saw some serious heart rates in the forward shoulder raise, bird dog bag drag, plank hold/reach, and TRX ward. These are whole body movements even though they seem “easy” compared to a sandbag clean. This is why we harp on your big toe, butt, and bracing your core! You engage your whole body! Heart rates during the bird dog bag drag ranged  from 72% – 94% of heart rate max! This proves that you are doing more work than you think even though it seems “easy”. Engaging your whole body will bump your intensity!

I chuckle to think that I wrote last week that I’m not a competitive person. HaHa!! Well, because I am connected with the people who bought the MyZone belts, I can see their workouts and they can see mine. That makes all of us more accountable to our workouts, effort, and goals. Myself included! I rode my bike THREE times this past week because I needed to burn more calories and get more points. I now realize that I’ve not been working hard enough and the MyZone belt has forced me to bump up my intensity! I needed a kick in the butt!!
While everyone will benefit from heart rate training, it’s not for everyone. People who are on heart rate controlled medications can not use heart rate as a gauge for their intensity. They will rely on perceived exertion (how hard you feel the exercise is). People who do not want to know their intensity will not be motivated by heart rate training. Not everyone wants to go hard. That is totally ok! Without the heart rate monitor, everyone can aim for an effort level of 8-9 out of 10 on certain exercises. YOUR 8-9 effort. We’re in this together to get the most out of our workouts!
*Read more about “after calorie burn” HERE.



Real life example: client who has been working with trainer shares personal news.

Client: “I’m getting married!”

Trainer: “Let’s get you in shape for your wedding!”

Client: “I AM in shape!”

Trainer: “I mean, so you look good in pictures on your special day.”


Hmm, what is the trainer inadvertently saying? The client is not in shape? Meaning, she’s not small enough? It may have been an innocent comment on the trainer’s part, but it’s not really. This is just one example of body shaming, criticizing someone based on the size of their body. Body shaming is something we do to ourselves and let others do to us. Why? Because being critical of our bodies is acceptable in society. It shouldn’t be! Google “Body Shaming” and read the examples.  As a Coach in the “body business” for the past 24 years, this is all too common. Thankfully, I am happy to be seeing a shift, albeit small, in how women’s bodies are valued. Women have been judged based on the size of their body and pressured to be a certain size (small), i.e. the modeling industry thinks a size 6 is a “plus size”. This has led to a whole host of issues, such as disordered eating, low self esteem, depression, etc. Right now, we are in an amazing time where women are fighting against this visual rating of themselves. Right now, “healthy is the new skinny” is the mantra. As a Coach, I am excited about this change! As a woman, I am empowered!


Your health, not the size of your jeans, is what matters. We have become a society so focused on skinny that we are obsessed with food – not in a good way. We focus on calories, “good vs bad” food, excessive exercise to burn the calories, etc. Understandably, we all have an opinion about our bodies, but please remember that your body doesn’t define you. You are more than your body. Life is way too short to pick ourselves apart. Your health matters.


Health is an all-encompassing word, you understand. It’s your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. You want to create balance in all those areas. Health is your total person, not just how much gravity is pulling on your body (your weight). Loving yourself, including your body crinkles, is powerful. Self love will affect every single area of your life. 


This year, lets make an effort to shift our focus on how we approach eating. I say eating instead of dieting because eating is more nourishing and joyous. Eating is necessary for life. Restriction makes desire burn hotter (oooh, i like that wording, lol!). Don’t punish yourself for the cookies or the cake. Don’t “earn” your desserts. Don’t shame yourself for enjoying food. Create balance in your life for all things enjoyable and embrace your health. 


*I understand this shift in thinking and doing isn’t easy. I understand we are up against years of criticizing comments. I understand that change is difficult. I understand that your opinion of your body matters. I understand getting to an emotional happy place takes time. I’m asking you to love yourself.

**FYI, this is not only for women. I realize men also share these issues. All humans need self love.


For more resources please check out, Girls Gone StrongJessi KneelandOvercoming Body Shame


Often times people focus on “getting through” a workout and “doing” the exercises. Your workout is more than a physical action. You actually have to think while you are moving. In my program, I ask you to multi-task, but this stimulates your brain while you are moving your body. This is a bonus to the physical benefits! Getting back to thinking . . .
Our program is based on layers of progression. This means, you have to properly perform one movement before you can progress to the next. It’s not about making someone do the “easy” option while others do the “hard” option. It’s about owning your own movements. Your body. Your movements. Your progression. In order to progress a movement, you have to be intentional about what you are doing. Let’s use the bird dog exercise as an example.
The bird dog movement is all about creating core and hip stability and control. When done properly, you should feel your core brace (tighten), your back lengthen, your glutes activate (extended leg), and your lats activate (stationary arm). The reason for the toes pushing into the ground (as seen in the picture) is to generate force from the ground up and to stabilize your hips. If the move is done too quickly, you feel nothing and gain nothing. The intention of this movement should be on stabilizing the entire body vs getting through it quickly and lifting your leg as high as possible. It seems like a simple exercise until you focus on the movement. I did that again – used “exercise” and “movement” separately. Why?
An exercise is just that – an exercise. It has no real purpose or translation to real life. A movement is all about real life activity. Because we never do an exercise in isolation of any other exercise, there’s no reason to focus on exercises. However, daily life requires us to move our bodies in different directions at the same time, thus we are moving. Movements affect real life activities. In this program, we are focusing on being intentional in our movements rather than getting through the exercises. What does this mean for your workouts?
You will focus on the physical movements you are doing while you think about why you are doing them. This will slow your movements down so you can be more intentional about what the goal is. If we tell you to focus more on a specific part of the movement then slow down, think about it, and then do it. Don’t rush the movement just to get done. Perform the movement properly, to your level, with intense control, and you will get the most out of any movement.


We’ve all been told (or at least have heard) to take an Epsom salt bath to help achy muscles. I’ve done it. Maybe you’ve done it. You know it works, but WHY does it work? I never asked that question until I went to a float spa last week. Oh my goodness! Yah, it’s THAT good! Let me tell you about my experience first and then I’ll tell you why it’s so great for you.


I’ve heard about “floating” and wanted to try it out. I have a lot of achy muscles and joints so I figured this might help loosen me up and feel less pain. I decided to try floating. Besides the decor being totally spalicious and relaxing, this location was sanitary! That’s a big issue for me if I’m going to be laying in a public bath of 94-degree water with Epsom salt in it! So, you get naked, you shower, and then you step into total blackness. I opted to have the blue light on so I wouldn’t be totally freaked out with my first experience, but you can turn the light off if you’d like. I step into this totally slippery black room and I honestly can’t tell where the water is. Yes, it’s dark in there, but the temp of the water is the same as your skin so everything blends and there is no transition. I carefully laid down and wouldn’t you know it – I floated! The tub is quite big (relative to my shortness) so no body parts touched. I started off using the neck floaty in case I couldn’t totally relax at first. That was a good idea because I couldn’t relax my neck at first. My legs were like tree trunks and didn’t move one inch! After a few minutes my neck started doing this snake like thing and after the 3rd time, I took the floaty off – maybe it was a sign? I opted for the ear plugs so when I took the neck floaty off I didn’t get any water in my ears. There I was floating like I was light as a feather! Totally amazing! One hour felt like it took way longer! I thought the lady forgot about me actually, but she was right on time with the soothing, low music to let me know my time was up. Every part of me relaxed except my neck – that took a little conscious thinking to let it go. At times my head felt like a bowling ball and other times it felt like a fishing bobber. Go figure!


My mind didn’t turn off like I thought it would, but instead my thoughts were clear and creative. I made a few new workouts within that hour, wrote this email in my head, and started planning for 2018. I thought I “failed” at relaxing, but when I read their pamphlet . . . it was totally OK for me to experience mental clarity and to “think” while in there. This was a great experience for me! I bought the newcomer 3-pack and have already scheduled my next appointment! This time, my neck WILL relax because I know what to expect.


So what’s the big deal with floating and the Epsom salt? Epsom salts are originally from a natural spring in England (that’s where the name Epsom comes from). When put into water, the salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate, which enter your body through your skin.  Magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions, including the release of specific enzymes and the contraction of muscles.  Sulfate plays a role in forming joint proteins, which eases joint pain.  These two collectively help to relieve:

  • Arthritis pain and swelling
  • Bruises and sprains
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • Sore muscles after working out
  • Sunburn pain and redness
  • Tired, swollen feet

When you float in the 10-inches of 94-degree Epsom salt water, you can now see why you feel good afterwards! According to the pamphlet at the float spa, people float to relieve stress, recover from injuries, flight addiction, eliminate chronic pain, and boost mood. On many levels (emotional, physical, spiritual), floating in Epsom salt is an incredible experience.


Going into my doctoral program, I was way into fitness and strength training. At the time, my background was working with athletes at the Naval Academy, University of Dayton, and the University of Georgia. I continued working with athletes while I was getting my doctorate in Exercise Science & Gerontology (older adults). I discovered there was a cross-over between athletes and older adults. What? The need for power generation. Athletes train for power to help their performance. Typically, older adults train for strength. That’s all well and good, but think about this for a moment. Strength is your ability to exert a force, to move something. Power is your ability to generate that force quickly. If an older adult only strength trains, they’re strong, but does that translate to their “sport” (daily life). Reflexes decrease with age so it would make sense that older adults also needed some sort of power training to boost their muscle speed. Why is this important for an older person to have power? Real life example: a person trips. Lower body strength is what allows them to push themselves back to standing position. BUT, lower body power is needed to get their foot out in front of them quickly in order to use that strength. In this example, strength is useless if the older adult can’t even get their leg in front of them (which requires power). Totally makes sense! So, here’s my dissertation question: What is the effect of strength and power training on physical function in community dwelling older adults?


A generous sample of adults over age 65 volunteered for my study. They were all medically cleared to participate. They were randomly divided into 3 groups – power training, strength training, and control. The control group attended 3 lectures, but didn’t participate in the exercise program. The exercise groups worked out 3 days/week for 16 weeks! The power training group lifted a sub-max weight quickly while the strength group lifted a heavy weight at a standard speed. This group of older adults were incredible! They showed up every day ready to exercise and wanting so badly to do their best every time, and they did! We tested their physical function using the Continuous Scale Physical Functional Performance Test. This uses real life tasks to assess physical outcomes (strength, flexibility, endurance). After 16 weeks, we found that the power training group performed better on this test! Power training won!


This means that a bit of power training is needed to improve daily function, for everyone. This isn’t about jumping to be more powerful because you can increase power just by increasing your speed of movement. By changing intensity in class we are covering power and strength! Here are a few examples: side lunge = strength, agility hop fast = power; deadlift = strength, kettlebell swing = power; squat = strength, mini squat = power; chest press = strength, rope = power. See the difference? This week I’ll point out the power vs. strength movements.


To gain the most benefit for your daily life, add power training. 🙂


Click HERE to read my published article (if you’d like of course!).



Last month, Hudson Valley magazine voted 30 Minutes of Everything “Best Overall Workout” in the Hudson Valley! This is a huge honor and I am so grateful! If you’ve not experienced a 30 Minutes of Everything workout, please check out the schedule for our drop in classes on Saturdays! We’d love for you to experience the Best Overall Workout in the Hudson Valley!



You haven’t seen your friend in a while and you notice that he/she looks different. Your friend lost weight! What do you say? “You look great” can be taken as “you didn’t look so hot before” or “wow, this is the exact response I was looking for!”. Maybe someone’s weight loss is because they are sick, not because they are making an effort to purposely lose weight. That can be tricky if you tell someone they look great and in reality they’re suffering with extreme stress which is wreaking havoc on their entire spirit, mind, and body, but “they look great”. Everyone is different so how do we know how to approach someone who has lost weight or their body has changed? Not that you have to walk on eggshells and be super sensitive, but we do have to have an awareness of the person rather than his/her body.
According to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, these are the top five things you probably shouldn’t say to someone who is losing weight.
  1. “How much more do you have to lose?” This is problematic because it assumes they couldn’t possibly be happy with where they are now. Different people have different weights at which they are comfortable, so who are we to judge?
  2. “You probably don’t want to eat that, right?” Foods that are high in fat or sugar are often vilified. A person who is actively losing weight might have it built into their plan to enjoy or indulge in those foods occasionally. The last thing you want to do as a support in their life is increase food anxiety or induce guilt about eating certain things. Trust them, and don’t critique their food choices.
  3. “You look so much better than before.” This is clearly not the most helpful thing to say to someone, but it does occasionally slip out of our mouths. Avoid comparing their appearance from before and after. Chances are, they’re already doing enough of that in their own head. If they want your opinion, they can ask!
  4. “You’re just going to gain it back anyway.” This statement conveys a lack of confidence in your loved one’s ability to maintain weight loss and could be very discouraging to hear. It’s disheartening even if you meant it as a joke.
  5. “Wow, you look so good!” This is the real kicker. People say this all the time and usually have nothing but good vibes they’re trying to send. This can be interpreted in many problematic ways, though. People often wonder what was wrong with them before or why everyone is noticing their body. This well-meaning statement can cause body-image issues to surface, which can – in the worst case – trigger an eating disorder.
So what DO you say? You say something POSITIVE about him/her as a person and ask how they’re genuinely doing. Find things to compliment him/her on other than the size of their body. A lady in class said the best compliment she received was “you look so happy and strong”! THAT is a game changer compliment! Super empowering, personal, and motivating! Be that person to share positive “non-body” compliments with someone.


I have entered the phase of ridiculous hormone changes! Before I go any further, let me say . . . everything you hear is TRUE! Seriously, the horror stories, the hot flashes, the weight gain, the crazed mood swings . . . it’s all true! I understand that NOT everything pertains to everyone and everyone is different, but if someone tells you a horror story – don’t discount it!

I’ve been in the fitness industry for the past 24 years. I stay up to date on research and the evolution of my field. Nothing I have learned has prepared me for this phase of my life – not even my Graduate Certificate in Gerontology! When I was 29 years old I was asked to write a book chapter on fitness in the peri-menopausal woman. Ok, no problem! I did my research, I regurgitated what I found – problem solved, just do what you’re supposed to do! At 44 years old, I do everything I know how to do and it still doesn’t stop my body from getting squishy! The best thing to do is to eat clean, rest, and strength train, which helps manage all the symptoms, but doesn’t stop them. I had no idea how difficult this transition phase would/could be until I started going through it a few years ago. Oh my goodness!!
In 2013, I wrote a special report on Women, Exercise, and Metabolism. I just reread it for a refresher. Yup, I’m still doing everything I know how to do – correctly. I consulted with another middle-aged female fitness coach and she’s experiencing the same sorts of changes in her own body. She started a “Menopausing so hard” group on Facebook where women can talk about these changes without judgement or criticism and to feel supported through this transition. I feel like my generation of women talk more about our bodies than the previous. Possibly this transition will be less frustrating for the next generation of women because they’ll be more informed. Knowing what I know now, I’m telling my sister everything! Then there’s The Shit They Don’t Tell You About Menopause. It made me laugh!
Sadly, this is a natural process with not much you can do to stop it, but it’s nice to know this transition is “normal” and you’re not alone. Everything you’re feeling is valid. I’m not at the acceptance phase yet, but I am working towards it. I’ve not experienced so many body changes since puberty and I thought it was frustrating then! Thirty two years later, another “puberty” of sorts. If you know a middle aged woman, the best thing you can do is to be patient – and get out of her way. LOL!


You betcha! Your exercise intensity will determine your training results and how many calories you burn during and AFTER your workout! How does this happen?


EPOC = Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

What is this?  EPOC is the process of restoring the body to baseline levels after you’re done exercise. This can be reflected by the number of calories you burn AFTER your workout is over! This is your fat burning during this time! EPOC increases as your exercise intensity increases.



Represented another way, see the red “afterburn” in the graph below.


When you train at a high intensity (red area) you are burning MORE calories than you would from a typical workout (grey area). That’s great, but the real bonus comes in the “afterburn”. This is EPOC! This is where your body is trying to get back to baseline so it continues to burn MORE calories without you even doing anything! This is the major benefit to high intensity training if your goal is fat loss! Your metabolism can be elevated up to 38-hrs after your workout IF your intensity is high enough.


How high is high enough? 80-90% of your heart rate max is needed to keep your metabolism elevated for 12-36-hrs.  This means you are still burning calories after you exercise.  This is a great time to refuel your body with HEALTHY food!


After your workout, while your metabolism is elevated, grab a little something with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in it.  This will help you feel refreshed again, fuel you up for the next workout, and you’ll burn these calories fast!! Train hard, burn fat!

The Power of Other Sweaty Bodies

If you’ve recently started a new exercise class/adventure or are continuing one, you’ve most likely met some new people, even made some new friends. At the very least, you see similar faces in your classes – faces you can count on to be there every time you are. I can tell you that the group dynamic of this program is just as important as what you do during these 30 minutes. I believe that the group makes a HUGE difference. YOU make a difference! How intolerable would it be to come to class by yourself (alone!) and have to sweat, grunt, and groan.  Can you imagine having to do a sandbag circuit or the agility ladder by yourself? Ok – you’d do it, but would you love it? I’d venture to say “eh, not so much”.

Group exercise has benefits way beyond having someone else to share in your pain.  It makes you more accountable.  A class of people expect you to show up and exercise with them.  You are less likely to cancel on a group than yourself, so you go to class more often.  People notice when you’re not in class, I promise you that. Even if you don’t “know” someone, they recognize that you’re missing.  And while you’re in class, you workout a little harder too! This means you get better results!
The class also provides support; an opportunity to work your frustrations out in an environment where other people may be doing the same thing.  You might not know that the person you were paired up with at your station was having a horrible day until being paired with you put a smile on their face. You do have the power to brighten someone’s day, even if you don’t know it. When you’re having a stinker of a day – the support of the group can “unstink” your day!  Also, the energy of the group is greater than that of one person. Just by being in the group, you’re likely to push yourself a little harder, try new things, and smile while you’re doing it.  Why not? Everyone else is!
The group is a dynamic entity that moves you forward in your training! For some people, this is a huge benefit! To others, it’s too much pressure. Please let me assure you that no one is judging you on your performance in class.  You are always encouraged to go at your pace. If you feel like you want to push yourself, that is your choice, when you are comfortable doing so. The group energy can be so contagious that you WANT to bust out all your moves and throw caution to the wind! Do NOT get crazy on me here! Do what YOU can do. This might be the only potential downside to group training: peer pressure or competition. If you can honor your body and listen when it tells you to “slow down” or “stop jumping”, you will be A-ok. 🙂
Be inspired and motivated by the group, but don’t be overthrown.