Archives for February 2011

Tabata training: quick and to the point

Tired of squinting at my wristwatch during classes and training sessions (I blame too much reading rather than middle age ;)), yesterday, I ordered a GymBoss interval timer. It can keep track of intervals, it fits in a pocket and it’s pink; what more can a girl ask for?

While playing around on their website (which has lots of great workouts, including high intensity intervals, kettle bells and Cross Fit, to name a few), I followed a link called ‘Tabata’.

Tabata training is a very specific form of interval training in which an exercise is performed for 20 s, followed by 10 s (no more!) of rest for a total of 8 cycles. That’s four minutes per exercise.

Any exercise can be used, although multiple-joint exercises (e.g. pushups, lunges, squats) are better than single-joint ones (e.g. bicep curls, leg extension), because they will elevate your heart rate quicker and you won’t need to perform as many different exercises in your training session to get a full-body workout.

The training format is metabolic and very intense. It’s great for increasing functional and core strength, improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories. It’s also very efficient; perfect for those days when an hour in the gym isn’t going to happen. You can even do a Tabata interval workout at home with minimal equipment.

Here’s what I did today;

Pushups; 5 cycles on toes, cycles 6-8 from knees (this was a really tough set!)
Squat to press; 8 cycles with a 30 lb sandbell
Reverse lunge; 8 cycles with foot dragging an 8 lb sandbell
V-sit with core rotation; 8 cycles with a 12 lb sand bell

Sixteen minutes, plus a bit of transition time between exercises.

Totally. Kicked. My. Butt.

You can bet that I’ll be doing it again (I love a good butt kicking!) and that Tabata training will be creeping into my group fitness classes and personal training sessions. Bet you can’t wait!

Oh na, na, what’s my name, what’s my name, what’s my name

Just read a great, thought-provoking post by fellow fitness blogger MizFit about blog branding. That is, the creation of an online persona that truly and consistently reflects one’s core values and beliefs.

The blog-brand is the message the blogger is broadcasting and should be evident in both their writings and their actions. It should be clearly evident to readers such that they can sum it up in a few words or sentences. Good blog-brands are predictable, in that readers are rarely surprised by the blogger’s opinion on any given topic. Readers ‘get’ the blogger.

So, do you ‘get’ fitknitchick?


Back and back at it!

Well, we survived our mid-winter trip to Florida. Oranges and sun and hot weather in February; what’s not to love?

We went here






and here






and here








Saw these






and these








and these






Ate lots of this







And drank a fair number of these!








Exercise? Lots of walking, some swimming and a single workout in the retirement community weight room; seems that I’m not old enough to work out there during the designated seniors hours (8:30 am to 1:30 pm!) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

We bonded and created lots of great memories, including an hour-long wait by the side of the highway in the blazing mid-day sun. Why you ask? We needed help with this

Back to teaching step class Sunday and Monday, a little bleary and jet-lagged, but happy to be home and thankful for a great family holiday!

Top 10 reasons to exercise

10. Improve your sex life.

9. Increase your endurance at the mall.

8. Reduce love handles.

7. Avoid housework.

6. Avoid more housework (it’s never-ending).

5. Great “views” at the gym 😉

4. Dessert.

3. Freedom to listen to non-Top-40 music without ridicule from children.

2. Freedom to listen to Top 40 without ridicule from spouse.

1. Preservation of life

Not yours, your children’s. Specifically, those children who insist on behaving like the devil’s spawn when vacationing with your parents.

Their children never behaved like that!

Exercise and body image; the search for perfection

I found the following statistics on the internet the other day (not sure what the original source is, but there have been many, many studies showing the same kinds of results so I feel okay about posting this without a reference);

  • 25% of men and 45% of women are on a diet on any given day
  • 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted “often” or “always”
  • 45% of men and 55% of women are dissatisfied with their physiques.

Assuming that my clients and group fitness participants are representative of the above group (and I have reason to believe that they are), this means that many individuals who I perceive as being lean, strong and fit, don’t see themselves that way! It’s as if they view their bodies in a fun house mirror; magnifying small imperfections and grossly distorting the overall picture.

I frequently hear healthy-weight women complain about how difficult it is to;

  • lose ‘those last 10 pounds’
  • shrink their bellies back to the size they were before they had children
  • get rid of a little inner thigh or back-of-the-arm jiggle
  • reduce the size of their backside

Why are these minor imperfections so critical to our sense of self? Do we think we will be happier, funnier, sexier, or more lovable when our bodies more closely resemble the pictures of perfection we carry around inside our heads?

Clearly, these questions are bigger than we can address here (although I’m almost certain it has to do with being constantly bombarded with images of young, thin, perfectly proportioned and air-brushed celebrities…), but I challenge you all to think about your own motivations for exercising.

If you exercise for health reasons (reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, managing stress, preventing diabetes or osteoporosis, building muscle to offset mid-life muscle loss, etc) and are enjoying the frequency and intensity of your workouts, congratulations! You’re using exercise as a tool to live a long and healthy life. Carry on!

If you exercise with the goal of achieving some sort of physical perfection, are always at the gym and feel like you need to do even more, proceed with caution. Most likely, you’re one of the people I described above; strong and fit-looking in the eyes of others and well within the range of healthy weight for your age and height. For some reason, you don’t see yourself the way others do. You may be using exercise as a tool to deal with an unhealthy body image.

~ Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? ~bob marly

February already?

Wow! January sure flew by this year! Lots of new personal training clients. Classes full and over-full. Lots and lots and lots of new faces at the gym.

It’s great to see so many people committing to exercise and a healthier lifestyle!

Me? I’ve been steadily working away at Phase 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Abs. Today I finished my eighth of 12 workouts. I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in my core strength. Although the core exercises in this phase are all stationary (i.e., there is no movement), my entire midsection is shaking and tired by the end of each workout.

I’ve progressed my planks up to 90 s and my side planks to 60 s (both with at least one limb off the ground for about half of the total time).

My dead lifts, both standard and single leg have gotten better and I’m not noticing any strain in my lower back (I injured it a couple of years back and have tended to “baby” it ever since). I’m now doing full pushups with my toes on a stability ball and looking for ways to make this exercise harder. All in all, I’m quite pleased with where I’m at.

I’ve even snuck a peek at Phase 2 and am excited to get going on it!

Now if only I could get my nutrition nailed down we might finally see a six pack. While I’ve been great with my protein and veggies, and have worked hard to switch from “white” to whole grain, I’ve been having a really tough time with sugar.

I. Crave. It.

Mid afternoon, I find myself reaching for a cookie or some chocolate or a sugary granola bar (if I lived alone those things wouldn’t even be in the house, but my family is still a bit resistant to the whole “clean eating” thing). Not sure if it’s the time of year (low light levels and cold temperatures leave our bodies craving seratonin boosters) or the intensity of the workouts (I’m really hungry on workout days), but sugar is my siren song.

Starting tomorrow, I plan on using the Tap and Track ap on my iPhone to document my daily food intake. Usually seeing those numbers (I ate how many grams of sugar and saturated fat today?!?) is enough to set me back on the straight and narrow.

We all know that journaling helps to reduce caloric intake by making us more accountable to ourselves.

Why don’t you join me?