Fit Tips and More

Below you will find questions that I am asked often regarding fitness. Just click on the Title and the information will appear.
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What are the Benefits of Aerobic Exercise?
Low/High Aerobic exercise is a very popular form of lifetime fitness for Americans. The most popular forms of aerobic fitness are those that are low-impact and of moderate intensity. Reasons for this are that most people are not in excellent physical condition.

With a low impact workout the goal is to sustain movement for a prolonged period, using full range of motion with the muscles and rhythmic movements. This type of movement ensure consistent muscle flexion which maximizes toning and fat burning. Low Impact means that there is minimal hard bouncing to avoid putting strain on the joints. One foot is always in contact with the ground.

High impact and high intensity movements are more vigorous and put stress on the muscles and joints. During a high impact workout, both feet will leave the ground simultaneously.

Aerobic activity is any activity, which involves the large muscles of the body in repeated patterns of motion, as well as increased breathing and heart rate. This type of activity conditions the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, improve endurance, and lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Studies have shown that the most effective way to burn fat is to maintain moderate intensity exercise for a prolonged period of time. Activities such as low impact aerobic exercise, speed walking, cross-country skiing, etc. allow the person to achieve these goals. Rhythmic activities add music to movement, which makes it more enjoyable.

Aerobic exercise - Aerobic means "with oxygen". Aerobic activities usually require low-energy output for longer periods of time during which oxygen is supplied to the body by way of the cardiovascular system. This increased amount of oxygen is carried through your bloodstream to your muscles, where it is used to burn glucose (sugar) or fat.

Aerobic Activity Benefits of Rhythmic Aerobic Exercise:
1. Increased lung capacity
2. Stronger, more efficient heart and lungs
3. Fat burning
4. Muscle building or toning
5. Sustained muscle flexion
6. Improved Coordination

Benefits of Low Impact Activity:
1. Easy on the joints
2. Can be modified to any size, fitness level, or age
3. Full range of muscle motion increases tone and flexibility

Side Note: I would like to add that in class we demonstrate low, moderate, and high pace. My goal is to make sure you reach 65-75% (I normally push for 75% for most of my students) of your target heartrate and to make sure your moves (e.g., jabs, kicks, etc.) is in proper order. Some Instructors lead their students much higher. I feel that could lead to injuries and sometimes it is not safe to go higher because the students may lose form and it may cause injuries later on. Most of my students want to loss body fat. Staying under or around 60-75% will keep the students in the fat-building zone.

I know I stress this in class numerous times, but it is very important to:
1. Never place your hands on your knees.
2. When you are kicking or working the lower body, make sure your feet are lined up with your knees at all times and you have a slight bend.
3. When doing mat workouts, make sure your low back is touching the mat at all times. This reduces unnecessary strain on the low back.When I say this, I do not mean for you to make your back go into an unnatural position. Just have your back in your normal position while laying down on your mat, and be careful not to stress your back by using your back to; pull up or down; from a move. As for any fitness class that you attend, make sure to keep your knees slightly bent at all times and go at your own pace!

Know how to take your Resting (RHR) and Target Heart Rate (THR) - Updated

What is your pulse?

Your pulse is your heart rate, (the beat of your heart that you feel and can sometimes hear or see). Pulse rates vary from person to person. Your pulse is lower when you are at rest and increases when you exercise (more oxygen-rich blood is needed by the body when you exercise). Knowing how to take your pulse can help you evaluate your exercise program.

DO NOT take your pulse at your neck (carotid artery)
  1. Place the tips of your index, second and third fingers on the palm side of your other wrist below the base of the thumb. Or, place the tips of your index and second fingers on your lower neck on either side of your windpipe.
  2. Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You may need to move your fingers around slightly up or down until you feel the pulsing.
  3. Use a watch with a second hand, or look at a wall clock with a second hand.
  4. Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your heart rate (pulse) per minute.

What is a normal pulse Rate?

Count your pulse: ______________ beats in
10 seconds x 6 = ___________ beats/minute
Age Group
Normal Heart Rate at Rest
Children (ages 6 – 15)
70 – 100 beats per minute
Adults (age 18 and over)
60 – 100 beats per minute
Before you would want to determine your Target Heart Rate (for fitness purposes), you need to know your Resting Heart Rate. How to take your Resting Heart Rate: Before you jump out of bed, dedicate 3 consecutive mornings to look at the clock for one full minute and count your pulse rate. Write your results down and keep it near your bedside.

#1 morning ________
#2 morning ________
#3 morning ________
TOTAL THE NUMBERS:________ /. 3 = _________Resting Heart rate

What does maximum heart rate mean? The maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate achieved during maximal exercise. To calculate your PREDICTED MAXIMUM HEART RATE, use this formula: 220 – your age = predicted maximum heart rate Example: a 40-year-old’s predicted maximum heart rate is 180 beats/minute. Your ACTUAL MAXIMUM HEART RATE can be determined by a medically supervised graded exercise test. Please note that some medications and medical conditions may affect your heart rate. If you are taking medications or have a medical condition (such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes), always ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate/target heart rate will be affected. If so, your heart rate ranges for exercise should be prescribed by your doctor or an exercise specialist.

The American Heart Association offers the chart below as a general guideline. Note that some medications can affect your target rate zone.
However, it is always best to have a stress test under a physician's Supervision to determine your actual HRmax.

Heart Rate Target Zone 50-85%

Avg. Maximum Heart Rate 100%





































A maximum heart rate at different aerobic zones provides specific results:

Endurance (60%–70%)
Considered ideal for endurance and weight-loss programs. Develops cardiovascular and muscular efficiency.
The body learns to use stored fat as fuel.

Aerobic (70%–80%)
Ideal for overall cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and weight management. The body burns mostly fat and carbohydrates in this zone.

Anaerobic (80%–90%)
Used for interval workouts or consistent speed. At this zone, your breathing will be heavy and your muscles tired.
Enhances lung capacity and increases lactate tolerance.

VO2 Max (90%–100%)
Helps enhance speed in athletes (who exercise at this level only for short periods as muscles quickly go into oxygen debt).

How Long Should I do a Cardio Workout?
First, let's make sure you know your RHR and THR (above link). Your THR will be important when you do your cardio workout.

Keep in mind, when you workout, the determination, goals, the way you workout all depends on YOU. It also depends on the type of day you had or the mood that you are in... it depends on how high or low you will take your workout. As you can see, there are many factors. Once you start working out, you will be able to gage how hard to do your workout, how to push your limits and when to slow down.

Low-intensity cardio workout is defined as working at a heart rate of about 60% to 65% of your maximum heart rate. Low intensity cardio is generally done for 30-60 minutes. If you are working out to lose weight, ask yourself, "How many calories do you need to burn to lose the extra weight?" The number of calories you need to burn per workout (to lose the weight) depends on the duration and the type of activity you need to do to succeed in that goal. High-intensity cardio is normally someone working out at 75 to 85% (or more) at your maximum heart rate. This is usually done for short periods of time, say 20-30 minutes. Most of the time, this is done intervals.

Remember... It is all up to you! The more you exert yourself in a given workout, the more calories you will burn. More isn't always better and like I said earlier, 30-60 minutes is fairly "normal" for how long to do your cardio at a low intensity. Below is are examples of our Z-Box or ANY of our cardio classes. You can apply my examples below to any cardio workout.

Your warm-up should consist of about eight to 10 minutes of any cardiovascular exercise and then gradually increase your intensity before any activity.  Stretching is not a warm-up activity.  The warm-up is done before the stretching.  Oh... to help prevent any soreness, stretch before, during and after your work-out!

- Do not hold your breath!  Holding your breath can increase your blood pressure and zap your energy!  Try to get as much oxygen as possible... for most exercises, exhale through your mouth when you lift any weight (exerting yourself) and inhale through your nose when you lower it!

- Always keep your abdominal muscles tight and engaged. Don't worry so much about the students are doing. Go at your own pace and NEVER give up! NO matter if it is one of our dance-aerobic classes or boxing segments, keep moving!

- Don't try to move too fast when doing something new. Start moving at a faster pace, once you are comfortable with the workout or routine. In class, we like to keep the music about 136 to 145 BPM in order to give participants time to complete each movement fully and completely (depending on the class format).

- In a Z-Box or any of our cardio classes, while doing Footwork, even though there are many variations, there are certain important factors to remember as follows: footwork while fighting is a "balls-of-the-foot" movement, keep the feet light, knees slightly bent and your body balanced.  In class, we will always stress safety... "...pivot your foot..... Make sure to have your knees follow your feet at all times....."

- Proper shoe type for an aerobic class:  A running shoe is NOT recommended.  I would suggest any type of cross-trainer or studio shoes.  Make sure you have comfort in the heel area and make sure the shoes are light in weight.  Also make sure the shoes have adequate arch support. If the bottom of the shoes look like "a thick tire tread", don't wear them to class!

- Focus on progress.  Too many people focus on the outcomes, such as losing 30 pounds, instead of the process, such as exercising for 30 minutes a day for four days a week.  Remember, one did not gain 10-50 pounds overnight... progress takes time. 

- Go with realistic goals. Exercising too intensely can lead some people to burnout or injury. The expectation that a workout must be highly intense to be effective is false, as well as have some people abandon their training altogether!

Remember, go for your target heart rate. I personally tell my clients to workout between 60% and 80% of their THR - the higher end means that you are working out in your cardio zone and working out at the lower end means you are at your fat burning zone!  Make any sense?  Hope so!

Fitness Facts I Love to Share with YOU
Stay hydrated. Active individuals actually require more water and should aim to consume roughly 1 gallon per day to avoid becoming dehydrated. And if you’re one of those people who hates drinking water, consider this: Dehydrated individuals burn less fat than their well-watered counterparts.

Have a tea party. Green tea is a reliable fat-burning aid and is generally safe for most people.

Caffeine. Did you know that drinking coffee before cardio will cause you to burn more fat? Subjects who consumed 300 mg of caffeine two hours before exercising on a stationary bike for 30 minutes were not only able to work out at a higher intensity (more total calories burned) but they also used a much greater percentage of body fat for fuel.

Be a fitness nerd. Watch and read everything you can get your hands on to learn more about the body, exercise and nutrition. The more you know, the better off you’ll be in the gym or in your aerobic class.

Be an Iron Man or Woman. There’s no overstating the importance of resistance training. Adding muscle to your frame through lifting weights causes your body to speed up its metabolism. For every pound of lean muscle you forge, count on losing an extra 35–50 calories per day, or up to 1,500 calories a month or 18,000 calories per year while resting. That’s approximately 5 pounds of body fat you can eliminate at rest.

While working out, limit rest periods. Don’t spend your time between sets chatting on the treadmill. To add a calorie-burning element to your weight training, limit rest periods to 30–45 seconds. Resting 30-seconds between sets has been shown to increase caloric burn by 50%, compared to a three-minute rest period. You may not be as strong heading into your next set, but the added calorie burn may be worth it.

Speed up the pace. To help amp up your calorie burn between sets — and to accomplish more in less time — incorporate supersets or drop sets on weight-training days or perform your exercises circuit-style. You can also speed up your workout by doing your ab moves between other exercises, rather than waiting until the end of your routine.

Expect progression. Don’t get stuck in a rut with the same weights and exercises. Expect that after 4–8 weeks, your body will have adjusted and will be starving for something new. Aim to make incremental increases to your weight loads, try new exercises, shorten rest periods, incorporate advanced techniques like supersets, change from barbells to dumbbells…anything to keep your body guessing and improving. (That is why we keep the class motivated by changing the routine every day!)

Be free. Free weights force your body to recruit more total muscle because they call on stabilizer muscles to balance the weight, a superior advantage to the predetermined range of motion that machines have to offer.

If your goal is to lean out, follow your weight training with cardio. Since lifting depletes glycogen stores, your body is more likely to use fat as its first fuel source during cardio. Also, the combination of the two results in a higher caloric burn post workout.

Go for the after-burn. Resistance training also burns more calories after exercise. One study found that after a 30-minute full-body workout in which subjects trained with their 10RM weights, resting metabolic rate was elevated by 20% for two days following the exercise session. In a 180-pound man, that percentage equates to an average 400 extra calories burned per day.

Overload. Training with the progressive-overload principle helps rev your metabolism. Pushing your muscles beyond what they’re currently trained to overcome forces them to adapt and regenerate themselves so they’re ready the next time such a stimulus is encountered. Think “Ronnie.”

Train like a bodybuilder. Doing 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps with relatively short rest periods has been shown to improve your anabolic environment and metabolism.

Train abs for endurance. If your goal is to have a slimmer waistline, don’t train your abs with heavy loads. Use a weight that allows you to get at least 15 reps per set, allowing minimal rest between sets (less than 60 seconds). Or use only your own bodyweight as resistance while maximally contracting your abs on each repetition.

Cardio...Cardio...Cardio! This helps you with the simple philosophy behind fat loss: Burn more calories than you take in. If your goal is fat loss, incorporate 4–6 days of 30–60-minute cardio sessions per week into your training schedule.

Tread heavily. What’s the best exercise and intensity to burn maximal fat? Researchers found that jogging on the treadmill at about 70% of your maximal heart rate, or MHR (subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 0.7 for your heart rate in beats per minute), was optimal, burning about 40 grams of fat per hour of exercise. Going above or below this intensity burned significantly less fat, as did pedaling on a stationary cycle, regardless of intensity.

Post-cardio burn. Following aerobic exercise, your resting metabolic rate remains elevated for anywhere from 60 minutes to about 12 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise session.

Taper off. Instead of starting slow and building up speed, do your high-intensity cardio early in your workout and taper off to a slow finish to burn significantly more fat. For the Advanced Exercisers: After a 5–8-minute warm-up, immediately kick it into high gear (80%–85% max heart rate) for 15–20 minutes before slowing down (60%–65% max heart rate) for the last 10–20 minutes.

Vary your cardio. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing cardio, the trick is to keep your body from adapting to what you’re doing. Regularly changing your cardio mode is the best way to keep your body responding to your efforts.

Interval for success. Unless you’re a highly conditioned athlete, you can’t maintain a very intense pace for very long, so the best way to improve your aerobic fitness and burn fat is with intervals. That is, you alternate very intense periods of work with lower-intensity sessions in which you recover.

Are you a fidgeter? Maybe you should be. Fidget to fight fat. Several studies have shown that toe-tappers, while completely annoying at the office, will burn more calories over the course of the day than the stationary man.

Ferrari and Your Body!

Treat your body like it is a Ferrari!

The simplest thing to remember... you have to EAT TO LOSE BODY FAT! Okay, it may not be that simple for some of us, including me... I have a horrible habit of "forgetting to eat" and when I do that... I can feel my energy level losing its fuel fast! If you are like me, make sure to stay aware of your habits and start making a positive change! Your body is a nearly perfect biochemical machine that WANTS to run efficiently. It is like fueling a Ferrari w/ high grade gasoline - filling the tank when its empty, replacing the oil, etc, Running it like it loves to be ran, at high speeds, taking sharp corners, and looking all sexy! You always make sure to take care of your car, no matter if it is a Ferrari or not! You NEED your car to take you places and to depend on, right? Then treat your body like a Ferrari, by fueling your body with exactly what it needs, with the cleanest sources available (organic and fuel that is good for you), and in just the right amount for optimized operation. If you treat your Ferrari (meaning your body) like crap, like throwing some mud in the gas tank and never taking care of its parts, expect your amazing machine to run like crap. Sooner or later your body (or "your car", if we are still stuck on comparing your body with a Ferrari) will reach its "plateau", you will not feel energetic or vibrant any more. Just fix it - clean the mud out of your gas tank. Get the good quality gas. Change your oil and stop complaining! JUST FIX IT! STOP feeding your body with crap and take care of it NOW!

Considering the use of Steroids?  Read the FACTS
Considering the use of Steroids?  Read the FACTS
Many times have I heard unknowing women state that they do not want to partake in weight training because they "don’t want to get ‘big’". They equate weight lifting with the extreme muscle mass of the professional female bodybuilders (pfbbs) they see in many of the muscle magazines. They hear the taunts of their boyfriends or husbands claiming these pfbbs look like men and are undesirable. Does this sound like an invitation for the average woman to weight train? Not all women are aware that these fbbs acquire their massive physiques with the aid of male hormone drugs. I have had to assure many women that they can’t get ‘that’ big unless they, too, use specific drugs AND train like animals.

On the other hand, many of the average gym-going women are sometimes daunted by the size of pfbbs and think they are doomed to never gain any muscle mass unless they too use steroids.  Let's concentrate on the the lady that is thinking about the use of steroids for non-professional use and not for competition. 

The cover of Fitness magazines or advertisements that you see these beautiful, buff ladies flexing for the cameras are misleading.  Many of these ladies presented in the muscle magazines are photographed while they are on performance enhancement drugs. Thus, these regimes are falsely represented to the average weightlifter as training programs that anyone can adopt and gain similar results. Remember, these ads and articles with these ladies are often misleading.

Most commonly, women complain that they can not increase their muscle mass and lose body fat. First, understand that these two processes are contradictory. Only beginners to weight training will be able to increase their muscle mass and lose body fat simultaneously. Even then, beginners will eventually reach a plateau where muscle gains will decrease. The body must be in a state of anabolism (meaning, the phase of metabolism in which simple substances are synthesized into the complex materials of living tissue) to grow. In other words, conditions must be optimal for the body to build tissue.

Gaining appreciable muscle mass and dropping body fat at the same time is not optimal. One needs to concentrate on one or the other. Most of the claims of the muscle magazines and supplement companies that they or their products can increase muscle mass while losing body fat are false and merely a sales gimmick. 

Trainees have to accept some gain in body fat along with the gain in muscle mass
. The body fat can be lost later with a sensible diet. Generally, women, more than men, tend to over-train and not eat enough.  Many women weightlifters follow training regimes they see in their favorite muscle magazine entailing 10 or more sets per body part. Because women have lower baseline levels of testosterone than men, women possibly may require less volume than men for better recovery. Adding numerous hours of cardio on top of that most likely leads to overtraining. As well, most women do not eat enough for muscle growth for fear of gaining body fat.

Women using the typical doses of steroids to gain their extreme muscle mass are venturing into unknown health risks.  Side effects of the use of steroids:  Increased blood pressure, heart disease and liver cancer may appear later in life. Premature hardening of the arteries. Salt and water retention is a side effect commonly experienced.  Male baldness pattern, cystic acne, decreased breast tissue, excessive facial hair, and disruption of the menstrual cycle. These are considered reversible and usually disappear not long after discontinued use. Side effects such as deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris are permanent.

Another potential risk in men and women is combining use of steroids with cortisone or its derivatives. Cortisone is also called a steroid. However, its actions are considered catabolic (The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, often resulting in a release of energy). It may actually cause muscle degeneration when used over a long period of time. It is frequently prescribed in sports to reduce inflammation caused by injury. Combining steroids with cortisone may predispose the user to severe connective tissue injuries. Several such sports injuries have been reported due to concomitant steroids and cortisone use.

If you do decide to use steroids, find someone who knows what they are doing. Don’t rely on Billy Bob in the gym to guide you. He may be big, but being big doesn’t guarantee a brain. Ideally, someone with a medical background would be able to minimize side effects, but that also cannot be guaranteed. Most of all educate yourself. It’s your body you are tinkering with. Most of all, ask yourself if you really want to take the risks especially if your goal is obtainable by other means. 

This information was provided by my research on this subject and many questions I receive on this topic.  If you are seriously thinking about the use of steroids, do your own research and make sure you know what you are getting into!  Yes, you may have the results you are looking for while using this drug, but in the long run, do you want to risk your life and having these horrible side effects which some will never go away?  

Remember, the ladies that you admire (I do the same thing!) in the magazines are most likely using some form of steroids.  Yes, WE CAN have the firm abs, tight bodies and some definition if we train smart and hard, eat right and rest and YES, some women are naturally gifted with genes that allow them to define their muscles more than others.

Try to be happy with what you've got!  I know sometimes it is hard, but try to stay focus and positive, because your health and fitness... meaning... your body... is all you've got!  It is your Temple, so take care of it!

Jump Ropes 101

Some of our classes require the use of jump ropes. Below you will find some details on some jump ropes that I gathered for you.

Fitness and Training Speed Ropes - Using the same quality solid vinyl cord, this variation of the standard speed rope features a new handle design for jumpers who prefer a larger grip, and thicker cord (30% heavier to increase turning resistance) for a more challenging workout. Handles are made of shatter-proof, low density polyethylene.
Long Handle Speed Ropes - The long handle speed ropes feature a handle that offers an easy hold grip and smooth turning - ideal for jumpers who want a longer handle. Some jumpers find these ropes make "crosses" easier to perform. The light weight cord is the same durable quality used in the standard speed ropes. Handles are made of high density, shatter-proof polyethylene.
Standard Beaded Ropes - These are the jump ropes that we provide in class for students to use. Designed to encourage maximum success for both beginning and advanced jumpers. Durable indoors and outdoors, beaded ropes are ideal for all conditions. Low density, shatter-proof polyethylene handles are molded to fit hands comfortably. Unbreakable, low density polyethylene beads cover the high-strength braided cord that easily withstands heavy punishment against any surface. Fully adjustable to the user's height. Alternating 1 1/2" (38 mm) long multi-colored beads provide high visibility for demonstrations and the weight of the rope provides the optimum aerobic workout.
Power Bead Ropes - These beaded ropes are of the same quality and standards as the regular beaded ropes. These ropes are suggested for people wanting the added challenge and exercise gained from double-weight beads. These ropes come with 5" handles.
Half-Cut Beaded Ropes - These beaded ropes are of the same quality as the regular beaded ropes, but the beads are 3/4" (19 mm) long.
Cloth Ropes - These double-dutch woven cloth ropes are the finest quality ropes on the market. Of medium weight and approximately 3/8" (9.5 mm) in diameter, they are easy to control and hold a good arc when turning. Will not bounce when hitting the floor - a great advantage in both training and competition.
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