Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's My Turn Clare!

Editor’s Note: The Villager recently wrapped
up a two-month-long, nine-part series, chronicling
the fitness journey of Staff Writer Clare
Hopkins at Midtown Fitness

This week, Midtown owner Mike Bogdanski weighs in on Hopkins’ trek from fitness rookie to gym champion.

First, a big congratulations to you Clare, for achieving your weight loss and embarking on a new road to a long and healthy life. Just before the New Year, Clare and I chatted about a New Year’s resolution story. I thought it would be a great idea for her as a reporter to work out at the gym and write about the experience and after speaking to her editor we set a date to begin.

Just after Jan. 1, we met to plan Clare’s fitness journey.We weighed her, determined her body fat and body mass index to get a baseline. Clare had not been exercising much prior to meeting with me but seemed to be in average shape. Her body mass index told us she was slightly overweight.

Here at Midtown Fitness, we always work gradually to get people in shape before we raise the effort level of a workout. This method works well to help assimilate new members into learning about our programs and letting their muscles accommodate to new workloads. Clare, however, was determined to make serious gains in just eight weeks and I told her that this was going to be challenging because she was de-conditioned and without much strength or cardiovascular endurance.  She said she was ready to achieve in eight weeks what an average person would have done in 24.

Clare’s goal for week number one (which should have been a month) was to build a core foundation. I wanted to get her conditioned enough so I could give her the exercise program needed to achieve weight loss and muscle building.

Week one was fairly easy. In week two, Mr. Nice Guy was gone and Mr. Results Man was in the gym to challenge her with a workout even an advanced gym member would sweat through. In each week of training, Clare followed a regiment of cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training sessions while cleaning up her diet.

The psychological pressure was high due to our goal to tell her story to the public. If you want to do something great, the secret is to tell everyone. This will motivate you to live up to your goals through positive peer pressure.  This also put responsibility on Clare to get results while educating herself and the public to what a good gym and motivated personal trainer could do for you.

Intensity (yes, intensity Clare!) and education were our key focus. Clare was sore after many early workouts because of our eight week training schedule. To get weight loss in this short a time, F.I.T.
(frequency, intensity and time) became our motto. Clare’s training was focused on achieving a strong level of exertion necessary to achieve her goals. Enhancing Clare’s fitness knowledge was also critical in every Midtown Fitness workout program we develop because members must understand how and why things are done while keeping in mind that we want to avoid any injuries that could happen because of improper training methods.

Midtown members vary from age eighty all the way down to teenagers and their workouts must be age and ability appropriate. Here at our gym, we always offer free equipment orientations as well as free monthly fitness education classes.We also have videos on our website of how to use our equipment properly.

Through group fitness classes, one on one sessions and Clare’s determination, week by week, the weight came off. Clare has cemented a new life style where she can now follow a maintenance program to keep herself fit. The last eight weeks have been like a boot camp where she worked hard to graduate. This marks just the first step on her lifelong health and fitness journey. I plan to train Clare twice monthly for a few more months and then once monthly after that. More sessions will be key to make sure she has some variety in her workouts, keeps them balanced and maintains her motivation. Remember, it is necessary to have goals and always work towards something.  Clare will need to maintain 30 to 60 minutes of exercise five days a week which should include biking, hiking, snowshoeing and walks on the beach, to live a long and healthy life (yes this means heart attack prevention).
Well done, Clare!

Here at Midtown Fitness and Martial Arts,
co-owner Kristin Duethorn and our staff have
helped thousands of people on a road to health
for more than 20 years. It is not about the destination,
it’s about the journey.

Mike Bogdanski is co-owner of Midtown
Fitness and Martial Arts, a nationally certified
personal trainer, carries a Bachelor’s Degree in
Psychology, a Master’s Degree in School
Counseling, is a 7th Degree Black Belt, and is
the proud trainer of Clare Hopkins!

Clare Week 8

I started at Midtown Fitness two months ago with the goal of decreasing my BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage and today I am proud to say that I have brought these numbers
down, though I realize my journey is not over.
Eight weeks ago I had a BMI of 28.5 and a body fat percentage of 30. Today my BMI is at 26.7, my body fat is at 27 percent, and I have dropped ten pounds. I’m really happy with what I was able to do in this short time, though I know the work is not over.

Mike told me countless times that if you want to achieve a goal,
you should tell everyone that you’re going to do it. I’ll be honest I
wouldn’t have been able to get those numbers down much at all if
I hadn’t didn’t have the motivation of many Quiet Corner residents
knowing what I was up to and Mike to put the pressure on each
week. So I certainly recommend this wisdom if your still looking
for motivation to get yourself to the gym. Tell everyone what
you want to do and I think if you talk about it enough you’ll find
yourself following through.

Like I said before I know this journey is still not over even though
my eight weeks is up. I could still benefit from bringing down
my BMI and body fat and plan on working towards even better
numbers. These past weeks have really showed me that it is
possible for me to become a fit and healthy person, whereas I
never saw myself in that light. I have lost the attitude of not seeing
myself as a person who exercises and am committed to making
this change in lifestyle. Because of everything I have learned I
now want to exercise regularly and see it as a way to extend and
improve my life.
As Mike told me, there are 168 hours in every week, and an

exercise program should take up to seven of these hours. Chances
are these seven hours will improve your quality of life than
anything that takes place in the remaining 161 hours. Exercise
helps people sleep better, digest better, think clearer, calm
themselves, avoid diseases and ailments, control your appetite and
weight, build self-esteem, and even forge new friendships. With all
these benefits who would want to maintain a sedentary lifestyle?
The best part of this experience was being able to try so many new
things and learning how to keep my workout interesting. I was
worried when I began that a monotonous workout would hinder
my progress but I was kept interested by participating in different
classes, and learning new workouts and techniques shown to
me by Mike and the other trainers. I think the one of the biggest
deterrents of people consistently exercising is boredom. I really
suggest joining a class or finding a workout buddy to avoid feeling
bored at all. I can tell you I enjoyed the classes I took at Midtown
including spin with Amy, kickboxing with Earl and karate with
Mike and Kristin. I found committing to a class that you enjoy is a
good motivation tool.
I want to thank everyone who motivated and taught me over the
past months, including Mike and everyone at Midtown and all the
readers who offered encouragement. I feel extremely grateful and
lucky to have had this experience and am excited to continue my
fitness journey with the knowledge others have shared with me and
newfound sources of motivation.

Clare Week 7

My last week of training at Midtown has arrived and I’m going
hard to shed a few more pounds before my final weigh-in.
This past week I had the opportunity to take a spin class with
instructor Amy Williams and was thoroughly challenged. It was an
intense class but I felt really good after, and Amy was an excellent
instructor. I was excited for this class because I love to ride my bike when the weather is warm and I had been missing it.
Spinning is an aerobic exercise that takes place on a stationary
bicycle called a spinning bike. The class involved motivating
music and Amy talking us through the workout. During the class
pace and resistance were changed and we also switched between
standing and sitting. I really liked the way Amy talked us through
the class, I found it really helped me focus.

The benefits of cycling apply to spinning; except spinning can be
done when riding your bike outside is impossible because the snow
and ice are piling up. I also think its beneficial to have an instructor
to guide and push you. But spinning can burn a lot of calories, up
to 500 in half an hour.

I also like spinning and bike riding because it is a low impact
workout. For people with any kind of joint pain I think this is the
perfect way to get a good workout in because it doesn’t put any
pressure on the knees and joints.
Though Mike went a little easier on me this Monday because I
have a cold, we did do a little core training with the medicine ball.
The day after I have a sore core but increased appreciation for the medicine ball.
A medicine ball is a weighted leather or rubber ball that you can
use to do an array of full body exercises. They come in different
sizes and weights and have many advantages.

I sat back on a regular fitness ball while Mike tossed me a
medicine ball from about a foot away. I would catch the ball and
sit up slightly while throwing it back to him. It sounds simple but it
was challenging for my stomach muscles and the rest of my body
trying to stay balanced and throw at the same time.

This exercise and others with the medicine call can really improve
core strength. Instead of isolating one muscle group you are able
to work many different core muscles at once. In this way working
with a medicine ball is different than using the weight machines,
which have a fixed range of motion and therefore target only one
muscle group.

So like I said before I have a cold and am allowing myself one
day to recover and regain some energy so I can get back into my
routine. I hope that by next week I have some impressive results
to share. Again good luck and keep going to everyone else who
started the New Year looking to make a change in their fitness, I
hope everyone is reaching their goals and making progress.

Clare Week 6

I am into week seven and although my mission towards fitness with Mike will soon be coming to end I am aware now that it is
really a lifetime journey, as inactivity can have a lot of unhealthy effects on the body.
A lot of this journey has really been about educating myself, and feel as though I have learned a great deal, specifically about how
unhealthy avoiding exercise truly is.
Mike shared with me that inactivity has a lot of unhealthy repercussions on a cellular level. Inactivity decreases your body’s ability to move oxygen from the blood stream to the cells and
decrease the number of power activating mitochondria.

There are also many conditions that can be made worse by
inactivity. For example studies have shown that men and women
who are physically active have a 30 to 40 percent risk of colon
cancer compared to individuals who are inactive.

As February is Heart Month I should also mention that a lack
of physical activity over time can decrease the function of heart
muscle and can affect the blood vessels including the large aortic
artery to the veins and small capillaries. Many studies have shown
that exercise can protect your heart.

Besides physical health, a lack of exercise can also be detrimental
to your mental health. People who don’t exercise on a regular basis
could be more prone to develop depression and people who are
fitness conscious more often display improved self-esteem.
Not that I am trying to scare anyone into exercising, because I
don’t think fear should be a main motivator. However I think it’s
important to remember how avoiding the gym or exercising in
general can seriously affect your health.

I know now netter than anyone how fun it can actually be to get a
workout in. I have been having a great time at the kickboxing class
every Thursday, taught by Earl Rosebrooks. I have to say it’s my
favorite class I’ve taken so far because it’s very high energy and
challenging but also a really good time. Earl is a really enthusiastic
and knowledgeable teacher so I really look forward to going every
week. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m always looking for extra
motivation to exercise and this class has kept me showing up every
week since I started so I would really recommend it.

I also had the opportunity to enjoy a Karate class this week with
Mike and Kristin. This was my first time trying Karate so it was a
completely new experience but it left me wanting more.
I wasn’t aware it would be such a workout but I was sweating by
the time the hour had run out. Karate obviously has many of the
same physical benefits as regular exercise but I think it also has a
lot of mental benefits.

I spent most of the class learning self-defense techniques from
Kristin and I found it very empowering. I think over time people
in Karate, especially women, can develop a lot of confidence in
themselves and their ability to defend themselves. I know I left that
class feeling very positively about myself, though I am an extreme

One thing I am not feeling positive about is my arm strength,
which is something I guess I have neglected over these weeks. My
pathetic attempt at a bicep curl elicited some laughs from Mike
on Monday. So I continue this week with the goal to improve my
bicep strength so as not to feel so embarrassed when I meet with
Mike next week.

Clare Week 5

So here I am at week six, even with all of Mike’s attempts to torture me and make me suffer in new ways each Monday.
Really though I’m just kidding about the torture and suffering. I actually haven’t felt tortured during this whole process at all and I
hate to think I am giving the impression that Mike is inflicting this terrible agony upon me each week. I have certainly felt challenged,
which Mike says is a much more positive word than suffering and I
am trying to use more positive words.

My situation is different from most people looking to lose weight
because I have a much shorter time to reach my goals. Whereas in
the beginning I had one week to “lay the foundation” other people
might take a month.

So I think Mike challenging me each week is due to this time limit.
Though it can be taxing I’m incredibly happy with my results so
far and I know I wouldn’t have been able to attain these results
without Mike pushing me the whole time.
So this week Mike helped me work on my balance and stretching.
I think people overlook the importance of these two components of
fitness in their workout, probably because they don’t directly affect
the way your body looks but more the way it moves. However both
are important for things like flexibility, core strength, and mobility.
One strength exercise with a balance component that Mike showed
me involved a wobble board and two 10-pound weights. A wobble
board is a plastic disk with a flat top to stand on and a ball on the
bottom that causes the instability.

While balancing on the board I did some tricep and bicep
curls. Mike explained that unlike the strength machines, which
have a fixed range of motion, this exercise would call other

complimentary muscles into play. Using a wobble board can help
strengthen knees, ankles, and core muscles. I also found it to be a
rather fun exercise, though it was challenging at first to focus on
both balancing and the arm exercise.

I also learned about the importance of stretching. In the past I
have neglected stretching properly, mostly because I just felt
too lazy after working out. It turns out stretching is actually
really important as it can improve flexibility, range of motion,
circulation, and can also relieve stress. I was unsure of whether
stretching was appropriate before or after working out and Mike
suggested stretching after a workout, when the muscles are
warmed up and limbering up before a workout.

I was actually unsure of most things regarding exercise before
I began this journey and now I’m so glad I had this opportunity
because I feel as if I’ve learned so much. I would really suggest
seeing a personal trainer just to have someone who knows what
they’re doing share their knowledge with you, especially if you’re
like me and you’re not sure where to begin or end when you walk
into the gym. They can also help give you the motivation needed
to stick to a routine that will help you reach your goals. I would
definitely not be experiencing any weight loss or improved fitness
without Mike’s encouragement and support. Maybe some people
really can do it on their own, but if you’re like me and need an
extra push then I think it’s the best option for seriously committing
to making yourself healthy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clare Week 4

Week three is complete and Mike really had me jumpstart week 4
this Monday, with 40 minutes of running.
I haven’t run that long since high school so I was expecting to be falling off the treadmill about ten minutes in. But Mike told me, “If
you feel pain, feint, or dizzy, tough it out.” I wasn’t feeling feint or dizzy but I have become familiar with pain.

To really burn some fat, Mike made me commit to 200 minutes
of cardio this week. That’s 40 minutes for five days. So this week
I expect to be hitting the treadmill and some more fitness classes
that really get you sweating for the entire hour.

On Monday Mike also took a look at my food diary, where I
have written down every food I have eaten since I started. To my
relief Mike said I had been doing OK, though there is room for

One of my biggest issues is eating enough protein. This is
something I struggle with because I stopped eating meat recently
but have not properly educated myself as to where else I can get
protein. Though I think keeping the food diary has definitely
helped me become aware of the food I’m eating and what
nutritional value the food I’m eating has, or doesn’t have.
So Mike discussed with me how I need to cut back on the carbs
and increase the protein. My biggest carbohydrate indulgence
is bagels; I have trouble saying no sometimes. I was a little
embarrassed when Mike noticed my unusually high bagel
consumption and pointed it out to me, but I guess that is the
purpose of the food diary.
He explained that my bagel love was not doing me any favors
because they are high in carbohydrates but not protein. I need to

choose foods that have protein and fat but little carbohydrates and
sugar so when I exercise I am burning fat not carbs.
Protein also helps repair muscle by providing amino acids needed
to rebuild the tissue. So after a session with Mike when I feel
like my body is falling apart I have to start remembering to eat
something with protein. Every minute spent exercising the muscles
go through wear and tear, but can be repaired with protein. A
diet with enough protein will ensure that you recover after each
I definitely needed some repair after this Monday’s workout.
After cardio Mike took me through some strength exercises and
Midtown co-owner Kristin Duethorn showed me some challenging
exercises to do on the bosu ball. I think this was the hardest day
I have had at the gym yet so I was definitely thinking about my
nutrition when I left.

So where am I going to get protein? For vegetarians like myself
these foods will help boost protein intake: eggs, tofu, soy, nuts,
seeds, and grains. Yum.
I also have to start being more conscious about my water intake as
well. I usually sip water throughout the day but Mike suggested
drinking a full glass of water every morning to get my metabolism
going. He also explained that often when someone feels hunger
they can sometimes just be dehydrated so I should try drinking
water instead of snacking when I’m feeling hungry.
So week four is a week of hard cardio and calorie cutting for me.
Hopefully by next week, I will have some more weight loss to
report and will have gotten my bagel addiction under control.
Again, good luck to all Quiet Corner residents with weight loss
resolutions, I hope you are all on your way to meeting your goals.

Clare Hopkins may be reached at (860) 928-1818, ext. 112, or by
e-mail at

Clare Week 3

The second week of my fitness journey has ended and I have more sore muscles to show for it. As usual the work gets harder but the results are starting to show, as I lost five pounds in my first two weeks.
This week when I met with Mike he took me through a system called Peripheral Heart Action (PHA). The goal of PHA is to keep
blood flowing through the body throughout the entire workout.
Upper body and lower body exercises are alternated back and
forth with little rest in between. The blood flow is forced to keep
switching from different parts of the body as the exercises change
and different muscles are worked on.

The workout is more demanding on the cardiovascular system
because the blood flow does not get into a pattern like it would if
you were working the same muscle over and over.
The PHA workout Mike pushed me through on Monday consisted
of a bench press, leg press, lateral pull down, leg extension, bicep
curl, leg curl, shoulder press, calf raise, tricep extension, hip
abduction, and then a core workout. There are obviously other
ways to vary a PHA workout this is just an example.
By switching between upper and lower body resistance exercises,
mixed with cardiovascular activity, the heart rate stays high
throughout the session. The heart has to work hard to move blood
from one end of the body to the other. So through PHA the heart
is conditioned and the body is toned and strengthened through the
resistance exercises.
As much as I love training with Mike, I’m partial to the group
fitness classes. So far I’ve participated in yoga, cardio fit, and
kickboxing and have really enjoyed all of them.

For some reason I feel much more motivation to show up at a
group fitness class. Half the battle is usually just getting myself to
the gym. In the past I have literally used any excuse not to go, and
I have perfected the art of excuse giving. Signing up for a class is a
small commitment of a certain time and day that I can put towards
working out and I feel obligated to be there.
I have found that I want to be there as the group classes have been
challenging but also really fun. I genuinely had a good time in each
class I went to, due to incredibly upbeat music, helpful instructors,
and other encouraging people in the class. It is a good alternative
to working out in the gym, which can sometimes feel monotonous.

I think another part of the draw to the classes is a guaranteed
thorough workout session. Honestly, going to the gym alone I will
sometimes slack off and not push myself as far as I know I should.
In a class the instructor will push you further than you thought you
could go (avoiding injury of course). As a result you get a better
work out and you feel good about yourself, a win win.
I found other members of the class are good motivation as well.
Everyone I have encountered so far has been very kind and helpful.
In a sense working out in a group feels a little bit like being part
of a team and adds a sense of play to the workout. You’ll keep
showing up to your class if you enjoy the company of the other
members and would feel like a little bit of a let-down for not
showing up.
My third week has begun and I am looking forward to trying some
more classes. I hope everyone else in the Quiet Corner who made
the resolution to get fit this year is doing well and that we can all
meet our goals enjoyably and safely.

Clare Hopkins may be reached at (860) 928-1818, ext. 112, or by
e-mail at