Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Don't Have The Time

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

Question: I know I need to exercise but my time is stretched as thin as my wallet… any suggestions?
Answer: In today’s tighter economy, time and money are usually the biggest obstacles for most folks when it comes to taking care of yourself through fitness and exercise. Here are a few tips.

You can be efficient and effective with your exercise by using high intensity interval training. This technique is proven to increase your fitness levels while burning more calories throughout not only your workout but the rest of your entire day. You accomplish this by doing short 1 to 2 minute bursts of near maximal effort followed by 1-2 minutes bouts of low intensity activity (no complete rest … don’t lay down…that’s a no-no). These intervals (at first, try 4-5 sets and slowly increase up to 8-9 throughout your workout) can be integrated into any activity or workout you do. It is not limited to weight training or running. You can use it with ellipticals, rowers, indoor or outdoor cycling, walking and even gardening or lawn mowing for that matter. Any activity that requires exertion can fit into this formula for improved fitness.

The benefit of saving time is achieved by working at a higher level of effort; therefore your activity can be completed in 20-40 minutes instead of 60-90, depending on your ability to tolerate the workload. An example would be to walk at moderate pace for 5 minutes (warm-up), then try a 1 minute increase in pace or incline that elevates your heart rate or at least gets you breathing fairly hard. Lower the pace or incline for 2 minutes then repeat the higher load setting and try a little longer duration or higher intensity each successive cycle. The goal is to safely challenge yourself to higher levels of workload, which quickly improves your stamina and strength.

Some people will also monitor heart rate through a simple pulse check to better track performance and improve their results. A range of 70-90 % of training heart rate zone (220 minus your age is you maximum baseline number) attained in the intense intervals is a great starting point for most beginners. The higher your initial fitness level, the higher you can raise this range; some athletes using 100-110% of this training rate. Please consult your physician or therapist if you have any physical limitations prior to starting this or any new exercise/activity. You can also ask your local certified trainer for more information on this very effective technique.

High Intensity Interval Training can increase your metabolism (therefore assist with weight loss) by placing higher energy needs on your body. It is especially essential to adhere to proper nutrition and hydration schedules for this or most any fitness program to be effective. HIIT also requires your body to continually adapt to these ever changing increased workloads or exertion levels and that is why the significant improvements in fitness and strength can take place.

It is difficult at times for people to recognize the long-term benefits of investing their time and money into their own health. The medical field and insurance companies have endless data that without a doubt proves that it is both time and money well spent. You are worth it!

Stop by Midtown Fitness for more information on this or other health related topics and a list of current classes (ask about the free week memberships). Visit or call 860-928-9218. Please submit your ask a trainer question to Scott at

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Subtle Changes – Healthy Lifestyle

Subtle Changes – Healthy Lifestyle

Each January a New Year arrives. With the each New Year, Midtown Fitness hosts its own “Biggest Loser” contest. Midtown’s owners, Mike Bogdanski and Kristin Duethorn, along with our staff of personal trainers and fitness instructors have the privilege of watching the participants work toward their weight loss goals. The contest comes to its 12-week end this week, on Thursday the 18th with the final weigh out and announcement of our 2010 Biggest Loser.

It is our hope, as fitness professionals, these participants will continue their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle by incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits into their routine. How do they accomplish these changes? How do any of us? And why should we? I cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy lifestyle. For any individual, adult or child. It is an investment in your future, your family’s future, your children’s future. As adults we can make the decision to make these healthy changes for ourselves, and set a foundation for our children through example…children learn healthy habits from their parents. Why should they eat properly, play a sport or exercise if you don’t?

What all of us need to remember is this – the weight comes off one pound at a time. A lifetime of neglecting both exercise and healthy eating will not be shed in a month’s time. And, unfortunately, the older we get the more effort we need to put into achieving the end result. That said, the time to start is now. It takes tremendous dedication and commitment, and it is not always going to be easy – or fun for that matter, but looking down the road, meeting challenges, achieving personal goals, seeing and feeling changes are huge rewards.

Small, subtle changes at home are a great start to big improvements in health and weight control. One less can of soda a day, no more sugared cereals, eliminating junk food from your house and placing more emphasis on fruits and vegetables as available snacks, or mainstays at mealtime. Portion control is incredibly important, and will make a noticeable difference in your waistline. Unfortunately, the food companies have made good tasting, low nutrition food easy to store by packing them full of preservatives, and keeping them affordable by using chemicals rather than real food. All the money families “save” by buying these items is lost when poor health factors are plugged into the equation. Poor health is worsened through poor nutrition.

Incorporating activity and exercise also needs to become a habit in order to make this lifestyle change. You don’t need to spend 2 hours a day at the gym – unless you want to! But a gym membership is a great investment in your health. Most people say they don’t have the time to exercise, but what harkens more true is that they fail to make the time for it. If you get in the habit of saving 30 minutes (for beginners) that is all you need to start making long-term improvements in your health and happiness. A fully rounded, healthy lifestyle-including weight loss, is not possible without exercise. Personal trainers and class instructors at the gym are great resources to help with your efforts, and give you the encouragement you need. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos of “life”. Don’t let the cycle of stress, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle be your theme.

Melissa Richards -Certified Personal Trainer