April 19, 2024

Is it ok to miss a workout? By Jennifer Austin

Excused Absence?

We hear time and time again its crucial TO exercise, but there may be times when we should NOT exercise.

There are physical hardships that have recommendations to not workout while managing certain conditions. What we hear about less often, however, are the non-physical situations that also require rethinking a workout.

Unsafe equipment. If there is an “out of order” sign on your favorite piece of cardio equipment at the gym, it means the equipment is out of order! Don’t try to use it regardless of the advisory, it’s unsafe. The same applies to stability balls that are under-inflated, exercise bands that have holes in them and free weights that have loose collars or machines with obvious pieces missing. Choose an alternative workout or piece of equipment for the day.

Rushing. Speeding through your workout leads to inefficiencies and possibly injury. Streamline your exercises, pick your priority moves based on your goals and perform those only with a quality focus. Inability to do this may mean moving your workout to another day or time is your best option for results.

Dispersed attention. Thinking of other things while working out may lead to poor progress or injury from lack of attention. Instead, use the workout to take mental break from your worries and troubles and focus only on the muscles you’re working and the task at hand. If you’re unable to target your focus, exercising another time is your best course of action.

Unsure how to do specific exercise. Forgetting instruction or proper equipment set up means do something else for the workout. Guessing as to a seat setting or machine start up will only lead to frustration and possible injury.

In most cases with a little creativity, we can work around an equipment challenges or scattered thoughts. The benefits of exercise are cumulative and therefore missing one exercise session will not make or break our fitness. In fact, having good common sense and making smart choices about our workout will lead to the greatest benefits of all, being healthy, feeling good and capable to participate in life-long fitness.

Are you new to exercise? By Sarah Johnson

Creating a Habit for Beginner Exercisers

New to exercise?  Fantastic!  First of all, congratulations on making the decision to become healthier!

I’ve met many Brand-New-to-Exercise members during my years at the gym, and the most common mistake they make is overdoing it at the beginning.  To avoid that pitfall, which can lead to injury, disappointment or even quitting, beginner exercisers can start with some simple cardio.  Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart, builds endurance and burns calories.  It’s a great way to create the habit of increasing the amount of activity in your life.

First, choose an exercise that you enjoy doing.  The good news is that there are so many different types of cardio to choose from!  Walking indoors or outside, cycling, hiking and swimming are all great low-impact activities that will raise your heart rate.

Next, make a plan to do your chosen activity 2-3 days a week.  Look at your schedule or calendar, and write it down or create a reminder.  If it’s in your planner, just like any other important appointment, you are more likely to stick to it.

When doing the activity for the first time, make sure you warm up at a slower pace for 5-10 minutes before increasing the pace.  Plan on moving for 20 minutes at a time, including the warm-up.  Remember, we don’t want to overdo it the first time!

After you’ve succeeded in fitting in 3 cardio workouts in one week, it’s time to increase the duration.  Add 5 minutes to each workout the following week, for a total of 25 minutes.  Once you’ve achieved 3 workouts in a week at 25 minutes, add another 5 for a total of 30 minutes.

Don’t worry about distance or speed just yet; as a beginner, your main focus is fitting exercise in regularly and making the habit stick.  Once you’ve been regularly exercising, mix it up by trying a new activity or increasing the intensity.  And at this point, you’re no longer a beginner!  You’ve made being active a normal part of your life!

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahJChicago

Small Changes Lead to Big Results by Josh Anderson

Small Changes Lead to Big Results

Who wants to live their life losing 10 pounds in a week only to regain 15 pounds after quitting their incredibly hard diet? Many people do this continually – wash and repeat. That sounds like a terrible version of the Twilight Zone – harming your metabolic capabilities and hurting your psyche. So what’s a person to do? One option to shoot for a realistic caloric deficit of 100-200 per day that can result in 0.8 – 1.7 pounds a month which seems trivial but that equals 10 – 20 pounds a year respectively! The best part is creating a gentle caloric deficit like this is really simple.

Here are two options:

Snack Swap: If you would simply swap your normal, at-work vending machine snack with a piece of fruit, you could have cut out 150-200 calories! Get this; one 2oz. (56g) bag of salted potato chips has roughly 307 calories which you could have swapped for something like a large peach which has only 68 calories (175g; not to mention the vitamins, nutrients, fiber…etc.). With that swap you would actually be eating more food while saving yourself 239 calories. Do that every day for a month and you save 7100+ calories which equals to 24.9 pounds worth of calories a year!

Drop the Sugary Drinks: Sugary drinks are literally packing the pounds on people; they are so easy to consume! Let’s take the example of your typical classic Coca-Cola (12 ounce can) which has roughly 140 calories in it. If you simply stop drinking one soda per day you can literally cut out 4200 a month or 14.6 pounds a year worth of calories (51,000+) – that’s pretty simple!


It’s not all about cutting out calories; it’s about living a long, healthy life. If you’ve tried and failed in the past, it’s time to stop thinking of weight loss as a sprint. Instead, start thinking of weight loss as a fulfilling journey. Have patience with yourself in order to make weight loss work – make the small changes and give it time!

Josh (M.S.) is an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer and the founder of Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness and Nutrition”.  He loves blending science with sustainable practices that can be implemented by literally anyone in order to live a healthy life!

Fitness Goals: The Mental Side by Tera Busker

So much attention is focused on the physical side of goal setting, but what about the mental and emotional aspect of striving to reach a goal that’s important to you? Train and prepare your mind, as well as your body. Only then will your experience be complete…and more enjoyable!

Every day is a new day, a new week and a new chance to start working towards your goals. So, what are goals exactly? Goals are something that are within your reach that you WANT. It may take WORK to reach them, but the WANT will carry you to them.

Enjoy the journey. Sometimes we get stuck in the “work” part of the goal. It’s too hard, it’s too far away, it will take too long, and we forget about why we wanted to reach the goal in the first place. The fire that burned inside of us, the excitement, the JOY. Your goal is obviously something that you want and is going to be awesome when you reach it, so why not enjoy the journey until you get there?

Focus on the positive. You are working towards something positive, so if you stay positive and focus on how great the changes are, you will keep moving forward. If you get stuck in the negative or keep looking for the negative, you will have an awful time.

Your experience is your choice. You may struggle or have bad days, but look at those as lessons learned. You found a way that doesn’t keep you on track, so don’t go down that path again. See, negative into a positive. You are the one who is on this journey – you control how you experience it. You can make the best of it or you can make the worst of it.


Tera Busker is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fitness To Go, an exclusive In Home & Private Studio Personal Training Service based out of Roberts, WI. www.fitnesstogo.net

Are you stronger than your exercise excuses? By Nicole Bryan

Go ahead and try…to get out of it! Yes, there will be days exercise simply won’t fit into your schedule easily; unexpected errands, family emergencies, work projects out of our control. Ultimately, the decision has to be yours and yours alone. My challenge to you is to work to overcome your excuse. Which is your favorite? Bet it’s on the list. Take a look!

I don’t know what to do. Research your options. Talk to your friends and ask what they do for exercise. Ask them if there’s a particular exercises, class or club they enjoy participating in.

Exercise hurts. The bottom line is exercise should not hurt. If your workout hurts, change it.

I don’t want to exercise with others. If you spend all day interacting with others, it makes sense you’d look to your workout for time alone to recharge. Taking a walk is a great option. Or there’s always the option to wear your headphones, with the music off!

I don’t want to exercise alone. If your workout is a social outlet for you, check out one of the many classes, clubs and activities offered around town. There are many recreation sports clubs and city-league teams in which you may participate. There are also many non-profit events year-round which is a great way to meet others with similar interests.

I’m just not motivated. One of the best ways to overcome lack of motivation is to set goals. Set short term goals, as well as long term goals. Break them down and chart your progress.

I can’t afford a gym. Purchase a DVD or Exercise Video. Check out classes offered for nominal fees or no fee such as the adult education program, non-profit classes and city recreation programs.

I’m too tired. Exercise will give you energy. Exercising forces us to breathe deeply. Doing so, decreases stress, muscle tension and helps clear our minds. When you’re feeling tired and sluggish one of the best things you can do is move!

I don’t like to exercise! If you don’t like (at least a little bit) the activity you’re doing, find a new activity! There really is a mode of exercise for everyone. Keep trying a different program until you find one that suits and interests you. And remember, any movement or activity is better than nothing.

I don’t have the time! When something is important we always find the time, don’t we? And bottom line is sometimes we just have to make the time. Scheduling your workouts in your planner will help you carve the time out of your day. Telling friends your plan and goals and asking them to hold you accountable is also helpful.

As you can see, virtually every excuse can be overcome. There is always an answer; if you are stumped it just means you haven’t thought of the solution yet, it doesn’t mean there is no solution. Keep at it until you find the magic combination for your individual fitness goals.

Fun in the Mud by Nicole Bryan

Racing your first Mud Run event? You won’t regret it! Regardless of your fitness or sport background, you will be challenged by this unique event style. Mud Runs have gained popularity in the past few years, because they are a fitness-filled total body workout of fun.

Here are a few tips to get you to the finish line happy and healthy:

Pace Yourself. The energy at the starting line of any event is super-charged! Mud Run race organizers usually plan to have a sustained run of a quarter or half-mile at the beginning for the purpose of spreading out participants upon arriving at the first obstacle. Remember to warm up, instead of sprinting to the first obstacle. Take your time, save your sprint for the end of the course. Your muscles will thank you.

Look for a Clear Path. There will be fellow athletes at each obstacle. In fact, some obstacles are really impacted and you may even have to wait. When approaching the obstacle survey others around you, see what approach they’re taking and then choose a different approach position. Usually the outside, corners or edges are least crowded as others simply follow the athlete in front of them to the middle of the obstacle. Look for other paths that volunteers are creating for athletes.

Focus on Efficiency. The more efficiently you can use your body, the better in obstacle course racing. For example, you see a wall as your next obstacle. If there aren’t other athletes in front of you, run and jump over in a single motion. This approach is more efficient than stopping completely and pulling your body over the obstacle and then having to regain running momentum again.

Think Outside of the Box. Sometimes rolling saves muscle energy over crawling. Explore how you can use your legs, instead of only your arms. Try how you can use your arms, instead of only your legs. Try using your total body to decrease cardio intensity.

Use Momentum. Keep moving forward. Running, walking, jogging, crawling, rolling, skipping, whatever it takes. Momentum from your run should carry you half way up the cargo net. Momentum from your downhill sprint should propel you over the wall. Momentum from your jogging can move you easier through the mud pit.

Have a sense of humor, have some common sense, have a smart approach to each obstacle, and most of all have fun in the mud!

Summer Exercise by Sarah Johnson

As it seems we may have finally made the transition (albeit abrupt!) to summer weather, it’s now time to get outside and enjoy all of the activities we haven’t been able to all winter!

Living so close to Lake Michigan, I’m fortunate to have so many water friendly activities in which to participate. As always, you need to be a good swimmer and comfortable in the water before trying any of these out. And be sure to let someone know where you’re going! Always consult your physician before beginning exercise.

Here are a few of my summer exercise favorites by the water:

Stand Up Paddleboarding: This very popular water sport uses a paddle board (think long, flat surf board) and one single-sided paddle. While standing, or kneeling if you’re just starting out, you need to balance as you move through the water’s waves and ripples. Flat water is best for this sport, although with a little practice and Core strength, you’ll be skimming the surface in no time!

Kayaking: This is a terrific upper body workout. Sitting inside the kayak and using a double-sided paddle, you’ll propel yourself forward with long strokes. Your arms, shoulders and upper back muscles all need to work together in order to move forward. This is also a great buddy activity, if you can rent a kayak built for 2!

Sand Running: The effort that running in the sand requires is much greater than on a dry, hard surface. This is a great way to mix up your training. Choose a shorter distance, and break it up into short and longer sprints on the beach. Walk in-between the sprints so you have time to recover (if you’ve never run on sand before, you may find that it’s harder than you think!) And pack a Frisbee or small ball to reward yourself with a game of catch after the hard part is over!

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahJChicago

Need to clear your mind?

Get Fit Quick Tip

Need to clear your mind? Have a big decision looming? A tough work meeting on the horizon? Head out for a walk! Walking is a great way to increase circulation, decrease stress and muscle tension. You’ll be forced to breathe deeply, in turn you’ll rejuvenate your mental focus and concentration.

Check back often for your useful and practical healthy living and fitness tip! Our Get Fit Quick tip will always be easy to remember and you’ll be able to implement it the very same day. Our tip will be so clear and concise you’ll be motivated to forward it to all your friends and family to inspire them to live healthy and fit as well.

Are YOU right for your exercise? By Nicole Bryan

Fads and trends will always come and go. The next latest and greatest quick-fix is just around the corner. Your best friend swears her class is the absolute best way to lose weight. Your boss is adamant that her way is the best way ever! How do you know what’s best for you? Instead of asking yourself if an exercise is right for you, ask are YOU right for the exercise. Here’s how to tell:

What’s your goal? First determine what you’d like to accomplish. If you’d like to run a 5K in a certain time, then your program may be different than if you’re wishing to build strength for your job. Sounds like common sense, but many aren’t aware of what they’re goal is. Determine your goal, and then determine which exercise.

Are you right for your exercise? For example, you’re 2 months out of major back surgery perhaps now is not the time to participate in that karate class where challenging single-stance movements are required. Or you’re just getting back into the swing of your routine after a 20 year sabbatical, maybe now isn’t the time to jump right into a 5 day a week high-intensity circuit class. This point may be summed up in the following question; why do you want to do that particular exercise? Keep in mind this doesn’t mean the certain exercises are bad or impossible; this simply means appropriate exercise/exercise progression is specific to the individual and determined by what one wants to accomplish.

There is a principle called the SAID Principle that reinforces this idea. The SAID Principle stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This principle simply states that our body will adapt to the load under which it is placed. In other words, we should do specifically what we’d like to accomplish. For example if we want to be a runner, then we’ll need to run. If our goal is to increase strength to be able to lift our children easier, then we’ll need to perform strength training exercises. If our goal is to increase flexibility, then performing strength training three days each week while beneficial in general, will not improve flexibility. If our goal is to be able to walk around town with less effort, than performing 100lb power-cleans may not be the most appropriate exercise. This is not to say 100lb power-cleans are a bad exercise, it just depends who wants to do them and why.

Every movement performed in our workout should serve a specific purpose in moving us towards our goal. Enlist the assistance of a Fitness Professional to create a program based on your goals.

Do You Believe in Life-Long Learning?

Get Fit Quick Tip

Do you believe in life-long learning?
Set a goal to learn a new exercise or workout skill. Just as our body adapts to our exercise, so does our mind. Regularly rotating in new activities keeps motivation high, interest fresh and fitness gains coming. Set a goal to try a minimum of one new workout or type of exercise each month. This could be a simple as implementing a new walking route on your lunch break, asking to tag along to your friends yoga class or checking out a sporting club in your town.

Check back often for your useful and practical healthy living and fitness tip! Our Get Fit Quick tip will always be easy to remember and you’ll be able to implement it the very same day. Our tip will be so clear and concise you’ll be motivated to forward it to all your friends and family to inspire them to live healthy and fit as well.