Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fruit That Fight Flu

Once November hits, the rest of the year is a giant sprint to the Dick Clark ball-dropping finish line. Here’s the game plan for keeping healthy through it.
Start by getting a flu shot. Then, buy yourself a bag of apples and munch away. The quercetin in apples may help bolster your immune system during vulnerable times.

Boon to Immunity
Yep. Apples (and red onions, broccoli, and tea) are great sources of quercetin -- a flavonoid that may stave off the influenza virus when the body is under stress. In a recent animal study, quercetin did just that: The normal dip in immunity that comes with physical fatigue was pretty much cancelled out by the flavonoid. If it works as well in humans, quercetin could help power the body through both physical and psychological stress. (Is stress already getting the best of you?

Talking ’Bout Disease Prevention . . .
Quercetin may not only quash the flu but also stave off health conditions like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and pancreatic cancer. So get more quercetin with these quick and easy recipes from EatingWell:

* Slip some quercetin-rich broccoli into the king of all comfort foods with Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash.
* Give the holidays a twist with this Chunky Apple-Rhubarb Sauce with Dried Cranberries. (You’ll get loads of quercetin from the apples, apple juice, and red onion.)
* Or try this quicker, healthier take on a favorite dessert: Old-Fashioned Apple-Nut Crisp.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time Saving Tips

Fitting in your daily workout isn't always so easy when work, family, friends — and, yes, your beloved television shows — are vying for your precious time. With these Midtown Fitness time-saving secrets, you can carve out extra minutes for exercise in your jam-packed schedule without sacrificing the things you love most.

Here are various ways to make the most of your all-too-fleeting minutes so you can fit in those reps.

1. Stop wasting time on hold with automated phone systems. Log on to, a database of secret phone numbers and codes that will immediately lead you to an actual, live person on the line for customer service at nearly 1,000 major companies.
TIME SAVED: 15 minutes
2. Download your favorite TV shows to your iPod. That way you can watch them while waiting at the grocery store or subway stop, or while on the treadmill or stationary bike. You'll be less tempted to skip the gym in favor of the latest live episode.
TIME SAVED: Up to 1 hour
3. Minimize your morning reading. Instead of slowly fumbling through all of your daily newspapers, save time and go to, where you'll find major global, national and local papers in one place.
TIME SAVED: 20 minutes
4. Avoid long lines at the mall. Go to, and select your favorite apparel brands and sizes. The site will scour the Websites of leading retailers and send you a daily or weekly e-mail summary when items in your size go on sale.
TIME SAVED: 15 minutes

5. Finally, sign up for online billing. You'll spend less time sorting through (and shredding) the paper that clogs your mailbox. Plus you won't spend all that time — time you could be spending on the treadmill — signing checks and looking for stamps.
TIME SAVED: 10 minutes

Think you need to put in a full hour to see results? Think again. "You can squeeze in a comprehensive, total-body workout in just 20 to 30 minutes. Here are four speedy steps.
1. Devote four to five minutes of your workout to your normal warm-up routine. Do some basic stretches followed by cardio: Try jumping jacks, jogging in place or a few minutes on your favorite cardio machine.
2. Set aside 10 minutes for weight training. "You get more out of a workout by focusing on building muscle first. "Zone in on three pieces of equipment, and do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps on each machine, with a 45-second break between reps. Ideally, you want a mix of machines so you'll work a variety of muscle groups."

3. Find your cardio equipment of choice — be it the stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical or step machine. "Then, knock out 10 to 12 high-intensity minutes of cardio on the machine, whether that means doing sprints or upping the incline or resistance,".
4. Cool down for a few minutes with a quick, comprehensive total body stretch, focusing on all major muscle groups.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Secret to Flat Abs (Hint: Not Sit-Ups)

Curls and sit-ups can definitely help tone your abs, but a new study suggests something else might work better.

Seems counterintuitive, but working your upper body may be the quickest path to a really sculpted middle.

Above-the-Belt Action
In a study, women did isometric exercises for their stomach, back, shoulders, and arms while researchers measured muscle activity. The results? Shoulder extensions made middle-body muscles contract most -- apparently they work extra hard to stabilize your trunk when your wings are flapping. (Watch this strength-training video to learn how building 5 extra pounds of muscle could burn 26 pounds of fat in a year.)

Full-Body Fitness
Some more ways to get your midsection -- and whole body -- into mint condition:

* Roll out the ball. For strong core muscles and better balance, do tummy and back toners on an exercise ball. Follow these simple steps.
* Add resistance. Use weights or resistance bands for extra burn. Use this tool to create a 20-minute workout with or without equipment.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

How To Choose A Gym

The main things to consider when choosing a gym are:


Make location your #1 consideration in choosing a gym. If your gym is more than a 20 minutes from your home or office, studies show that you probably won't go. It has to be convenient.


Membership fees vary widely, from $35 - $100/month. Some gyms charge an initial sign up fee as well. (this is called an enrollment fee). Many gyms will allow you a free trial period to test-drive the facility.


Make sure the hours of operation fit your needs. Most gyms offer early morning as well as weekend and evening hours. Most staffed gyms have instructors and staff that are certified in CPR and first aid. Some gyms have 24-hour access - these gyms have no supervision, no instructional staff and no classes.


A variety of equipment is preferred for a complete workout. Free weights, selectorized equipment, cardio (treadmills, lifecycles, arc trainers) and even a place to stretch are important. Make sure there is enough equipment so you don’t have to wait in line to use a popular piece of equipment. Some gyms have amenities like workout towels to use while you exercise, bath towels, shampoo, cold drinks and a lounge for post exercise.


A variety of classes should be available. Your gym should offer classes for different levels of exercisers. Classes should range from the beginner to advanced and have options in the morning, evenings and weekends. Most gyms now offer indoor cycling/spin as a group class too.

Trained Staff

If you're new to the gym scene, you'll want a friendly and helpful staff. When you tour the club, ask if certified trainers are available for members. Trainers should be certified by a nationally ranked group and experienced in the industry. Midtown fitness has weekly free orientation classes for new members. Even if you're a gym veteran, you might need a nationally certified trainer at some point, especially to show you the ropes of the new equipment or to supercharge your routine. Besides having a helpful attitude, the staff at a gym should be trained in both first aid and CPR and have an AED on site.


You should feel comfortable at your gym--with the people and the place. If you don't feel welcome, you won't go. Before purchasing a club membership, take a tour during the time you think you'll be working out. That will allow you to see how crowded the gym will be when you're there. Most gyms will have peak and off-peak times

Some gyms cater to different groups -- bodybuilders, power lifters, women’s only, and even a gym like ours that caters to both genders and all ages just doing their best to stay healthy and in shape (that’s why I call midtown the friendly neighborhood gym)

Your First Week Is FREE

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kids Nutrition?

Ask A Trainer, from Scott Fushi, trainer at Midtown Fitness Center, Putnam CT.

Question: My children; one 10 and the other 15 really don’t exercise at all, except for their scaled down gym classes at school (which they dread). They both are starting to gain a little extra weight and I want to try to help them avoid any problems in the future.

Answer: The number one thing any parent can do for their kids to keep them healthy and minimize weight problems, is to lead by example. Set a foundation through example… our children learn healthy habits through us. Yes it’s true “kids will be kids” and that they need to learn by their own mistakes, but weight problems and inactivity are areas where the stakes are very high. Don’t leave a legacy of lethargy and poor nutrition for them!
Why should they eat properly, play a sport or exercise if you don’t!

Small, subtle changes at home are a great start to big improvements in health and weight control. It can begin with less soda in the house. The 2 liter bottles may be convenient but it is too easy for 1 glass at supper to become 3. The same can be said about large bags of chips and snacks. What you save in economy you loose in portion control. It becomes too easy for kids and adults alike to get into a “grazing mode” while sitting in front of the TV or computer. Before you know it the bag is empty and you wonder where it all went.

By placing more emphasis on fruits and vegetables as available snacks or mainstays at mealtime, your children will get used to eating them… maybe even liking them.

There is a real economic factor to be considered here as well. The food companies have made good tasting, low nutrition value food easy to store (packed with preservatives) and affordable (chemicals are cheaper than real food). There is a long term factor to consider though. All the money saved by buying these items is lost 4 – 10 times over when poor health factors are put into the equation. Problems like asthma, diabetes, orthodontic, orthopedic and even cancerous preconditioning all present or worsen through poor nutrition. The medical costs associated with these conditions can have huge impacts on families emotionally as well as economically.

The same can be said for exercise. We cannot afford not to promote healthy recreation, sports and activities to our kids. It is also a great way to do something together as a whole family or even build a one on one relationship with your child. Take them fishing, out for a walk or bike ride. It is an opportunity to communicate while building good habits.

Please submit your ask a trainer question to Scott at

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Diabetes And Exercise

Ask A Trainer, from Scott Fushi, trainer at Midtown Fitness Center, Putnam CT.

Question: I have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Will an exercise program help control and treat this?

Answer: Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes can both be positively impacted through aerobic and resistance training. Talk with your doctor about their specific recommendations when designing your workout program. Research from the University of Michigan has shown than just one session of exercise can prevent primary symptoms of by improving insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance or the body’s inability to utilize sugar in your own blood can lead to high blood sugar and left unchecked possibly diabetes.

It is good common sense that an active and healthy lifestyle is good for the body and all its’ functions. When that common sense is not followed, obesity and poor nutrition can lead to the development of Type 2 or age onset diabetes. This “age onset” diabetes is now being found in people earlier than ever before. So much so that the term “age onset” is no longer used because Type 2 is now being diagnosed in young teens. The health and medical obstacles this presents, severely impacts the life of the individual and their family. Research has shown that combined aerobic and resistance training can more than double the improvements in your bodies critical ability to stabilize those blood sugar levels. This is called glycemic control and it is a key factor in helping “Type 2’s”minimize the health risks caused by diabetes and maximize their control of this disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention all diabetics can benefit from exercise programs because the results of improved heart function and circulation reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage.

This information “prescribes exercise” as one of the leading treatment plans for diabetes patients. The good news is that this “prescription” is inexpensive and relatively easy to fill by yourself with a little effort. Whether it is a simple walking and calisthenics program at home or visits to the local health club (be sure to consult a trainer if you want help getting started)… you can take charge of your own health care. This will not only help you with your diabetes, but other positive “side effects” to look for are improved energy, less pain in joints or muscles, improved work or play capacity and a sense of accomplishment that you did this for you and your loved ones.

The financial aspects cannot be overlooked as well. The costs of health care plans and premiums continue to escalate. You’re out of pocket costs as well as the “big picture” costs can be improved as your own health and fitness improves. I for one have better things to do with the money I save from one less copay per month or one less prescription. It all adds up to more money kept in your pocket as you invest a little time and effort into your own health.

For information visit

Please submit your ask a trainer question to Scott at

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Help Me - I'm Lost!

Ask A Trainer, from Scott Fushi, trainer at Midtown Fitness Center, Putnam CT.

Are You feeling lost (and we don't mean the tv show)?

Question: I feel lost and overwhelmed in the gym; where do I start?

Answer: Using a personal trainer is a great way for newcomers and “start-overs” to get an exercise program designed with your specific goals and limitations. You get a safe, effective workout under the watchful and experienced (check references please) of your trainer. Personal training sessions are also great for fit or experienced gym members to re-energize their routines and break through pesky plateaus. If you can’t get a training session yet; here are a few basic workout guidelines to ensure a solid, strong start in the gym.

Have and keep a positive attitude. Studies in the UK and at Harvard have shown that believing in what you are doing helps increase performance and gets you better results. It’s a continuous circle of success that starts with good self confidence and motivation levels that lead to improvements in your health/fitness levels which in turn continue to boost your self confidence and motivation.

The physical side of the fitness equation calls for equal focus as well. Your workouts need to be physically challenging yet tolerable. If you have health issues please contact your physician to help set some safety guidelines. The use of a certified trainer is another way to minimize risk of injury and maximize your efforts. Please don’t be misled into thinking your toning muscles or burning calories without a little “sweat equity”. Low levels of intensity that usually are in the “fat burning zone” still require some amount of exertion. A good indicator of intensity or pace for your workouts is the conversation method. If you can’t talk with ease throughout your routine, try to back off a bit.

A lot of people feel that cardio (treadmill, elliptical, rowing or cycling) is boring and difficult to stay with. Recent research at the University of Missouri has shown that 3 ten minute bouts of activities (with a few strength training exercises in between those cardio times) instead of the continuous 30 is just as effective at burning calories yet feels significantly easier to complete. You can even try different activities for each of those ten minutes sessions to keep it even more varied and interesting. Remember, it is generally considered bad form at the gym to fall asleep on the recumbent bike.

You can also more bang in your calorie burning buck by putting most of your cardio activity in the end of your workout session. An example would be a 5 -10 minute warm-up, a few stretches on the tight areas with limited range of motion (we all have them), your 20-40 minute strength routine followed by 10-30 more minutes of cardio.

This sequence was tested by the University of Wisconsin and proven to raise metabolic rates and calorie expenditures higher and longer than others.

Core and functional training are the big buzz words these days for good reasons. Improving your strength and flexibility in those low back muscles stabilize and support the spine and also enhance posture, balance, sports performance and even household tasks. Low back pain can also be decreased and higher levels of comfort are possible.

Exercises such as the standard crunch (keeping legs bent), or the “bicycle” performed with a controlled 4 count pace will help improve abdominal and trunk strength. The “plank” as it is known; is a simple yet effective core building exercise that is performed by resting on your forearms and toes. Hold this position with your belly off the ground and your back in a supported (non-arched) position) for 15 to 60 seconds. Try not to let that “bridge” position sag. If that is too hard try doing it on your knees first and gradually build up your time and tolerance.

Multiple joint exercises also are a way to integrate core and functional training into your workouts. Lunges, dumbbell bench presses and seated or bent-over rows are all movements that require additional stabilization and therefore burn more calories. They also improve your balance and range of motion while building strength. They are not only multi joint movements but they are multi-beneficial movements.

Try a few of theses suggestions and you will get good results for your exercising efforts.

For information visit

Please submit your ask a trainer question to Scott at

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fact Or Fiction?

Weight Training Facts and Fiction

If you are new to weight training, here is a quick start guide to help you get a better understanding about some of the facts and fiction surrounding building muscle.

Who is Weight Training For?

The benefits of weight training spread across all genders, races and ages. Weight training was once a very obscure "fringe" activity only practiced by strongmen and body builders. Those days are long gone.

Today, anyone who values their long term health, can gain substantial benefits by using moderate weight training to enhance their overall physical and emotional well being.

Is Weight Training Dangerous?

When performed in a safe and controlled manner, weight training is very safe. In fact there are far fewer injuries in weight training than - bicycling, golf, or basketball. Actually, those individuals who train with weights have less occurrence of injury when performing other activities due to increased muscle and tendon strength as well as increased bone density. Please use a spotter when lifting heavy.

Will I get Bulky Muscles From Weight Training?

No! That's actually one of the biggest myths about weight training. Many women fear working out with weights. They think they will become masculine and muscle bound. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women don't have the same genetic potential to gain muscle that men do.

If it was that easy to get huge muscles, every man on earth would be 250 pounds of solid muscle. You and I know that's not true, so put your mind at ease.

Weight Training Makes You Inflexible

The truth is that most people gain improved flexibility and range of motion in joints when following a weight-training program. Well-defined muscles help your body function more efficiently -Much more than sitting on your butt all day.

If I stop Weight Training My Muscles Will Turn Into Fat?

That would be a neat trick! Tell you what, take a steak out of your fridge, and leave it on the counter for a month. Did it turn to fat? Of course not, muscle doesn't turn into fat any more than a tub full of Crisco will turn into muscle if you put it on your counter and let it sit for a week.

How often should I change my program?

For best results, consistently change your program. If you don't change your program, you're guaranteed to eventually reach a plateau. A good recommendation, change your program every 2 - 3 weeks or if your progress has stopped.

When is the best time to stretch?

Because of the properties of the connective tissue that surrounds muscle, it's best to stretch when your muscles are warm. This means the best time to stretch is at the end of a workout. However, if you need to stretch before you workout, you should do some light activity like walking or cycling (warm-up) for 6-12 minutes before you stretch to ensure your body temperature has risen. Hold a stretch 20-30 seconds

How much cardio exercise do I need to do to get fit?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 3-5 cardio workouts lasting 20-60 minutes in duration each week. Good cardio-challenging workouts include power walking, jogging, cycling, fitness classes, stair-climbing etc. Keep in mind though, if you can't meet these recommendations, any movement is better than nothing!

Should I do my cardio before or after weight training?

Glycogen stores are stores of energy that your body uses during weight training and cardiovascular exercise. Although, during weight training glycogen stores are the only energy source used. Thus, completing your cardiovascular routine before weight training will substantially deplete your energy (glycogen) stores needed to complete a proper weight training program. Also, completing your weight training before your cardiovascular program significantly decreases you glycogen stores. So, when you begin your cardiovascular training your body burns less glycogen and more of your stored fat. In summary, to reach you optimal fat burning stages and to have the proper energy to utilize an exercise program, complete your weight training before your cardiovascular training.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hey -Are You A Loser?

Can you believe it? People want to be called a "Big Loser"!

The Biggest Loser tv show has set in motion hope for big people that need guidance and knowledge on how to live healthy. US Button is promoting a contest for local people that want to lose weight.

Five hundred dollars cash will be awarded to whoever loses the greatest percentage of body weight. Second prize is a one year membership to Midtown Fitness! We will also give prizes to the top ten losers!