Should Cardio be an Entrée or a Side Dish?

"Are you tell me I don't have to do cardiovascular exersice?" is a question I get a lot. No. You do. But cardio is only a side dish. The magic happens in your lifting or resistance training. Your muscle dictates your metabolism.

Don't get me wrong, I still do cardio, but it is never more than 45 minutes a day at most, and typically this is when I'm getting ready for a show.  I eat clean and consistently. I lift weights and work on my muscle imbalances so that my body is muscularly efficient all the time.

Today I met with a gal for the first time who pointed out that there weren't any people on the cardio peices of equipment when she came in to Fuerte. She had been killing herself on the Howe St./Eastlake stairs, for an hour a day 4 days a week for a year and a half and not getting results. Her calves were killing her but she wasn't getting any leaner. It's always great to meet someone who is self-motivated, but just needs a little help on the educational side of fitness. Learning about 'your' body is the best thing you can do for it. When you know which one of your muscles are tight, you can stretch those muscles out so you can get to the muscles that are weak because they are never touched.

If you sit for the majority of the day, then you are more likely to have tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors, and a weak core.  The best thing you can do is get your butt moving... literally! Learn to engage your glutes: you butt is the biggest body part you have!  Use you core (muscles around your spine) and stop using your lower back. Once that happens you will stand up straight let alone use proper muscle. So let's get our asses moving:)

Sometimes it's just that neurological communication you need so that your body starts working properly.



Shanti Shares

One of our lovely clients, Shanti, shared with us her experiences with the Winter 8 week semi-private program she recently finished. If you have been considering trying out semi-private personal training, take a moment to read the feedback that Shanti shares.



The 8-week session of semi-private training was just what I needed to kick myself into gear.  The best part was setting up healthy new habits of regular exercise and smarter eating.  The structure of the 3 early morning workouts a week helped create a new "normal" and making it through 24 sessions of waking up before dawn taught me that I really can do it regularly.  I never thought I would be able to wake up and work out so early, but it really does work for my schedule (I'm a working mom with young kids, and it's been hard to find time during the day/week).
I enjoyed the variety and toughness of the workouts, and I am amazed at how much muscle I gained in just 8 weeks!  Tracking workouts and food in the journal was helpful, though it was sometimes hard to stay on top of it.  Paying attention to food was a great piece for me; I knew what I should/shouldn't eat already, but the accountability of writing it down throughout the session helped me make better choices.  Adriana also offered good snack ideas so I could spread my calories out across more meals.  
Doing this as part of a group made it really fun; I felt more motivated and committed, as well as inspired by the awesome things the other folks were accomplishing.  It also set a faster pace than I would probably have done on my own, so I got more out of the hour-long workouts than I would have otherwise.  I highly recommend these sessions and would do this again!


The Infamous Pullup

Read Jake's thoughts about how to
work on getting better at pullups!


Pullups are one of those exercises that you either can or can’t do, and there is no in between. Deep down everybody wants to do a pullup it’s a great way to show off to your friends how strong you are or even just a party trick! But what is it about pullups that are so difficult to achieve?

Some people are just able to do 10 pullups without even trying, while others struggle and have to really train just to be able to do 1! I was fortunate enough to naturally develop the strength to do pullups without trying hard, but I still had to train in order to be able to do multiple reps in a row. So If a pullup is something you are trying to do accomplish but can’t quite get it, here are some tips and to help you achieve a pullup.

                First, let’s look at where the pullup begins, hanging from something. Sometimes the reason pullups may seem difficult is that our grip isn’t strong enough to hold our own body weight. Strengthening our grip will start to move the process along much faster. Just practice hanging on to the bar until you can’t hold on anymore this will get your hands and forearms trained so that it can  you can hold on to yourself! Also any type of forearm exercises are good, such as wrist curls.

Next let’s look at our biceps, increasing the strength in your biceps will help with the pulling motion. Any variation of a bicep curl will be beneficial, make sure you curl the weight up controlled and lower slowly to make sure you develop the right kind of strength in your biceps muscle.

Don’t forget to train your core muscles. Having strong core muscles is beneficial to every exercise, especially pull-ups.  A strong core will help you be able to stabilize your entire body so that doing the actual pull becomes less work!

Next let’s look at the shoulders muscles and what is usually the limiting factor when it comes to doing pullups, the back muscles! In order to really have a strong pullup with good form you need to be able to turn on the muscles in your back, more specifically muscle call the latissimus dorsi or “the lats”. These muscles are the biggest muscles in your upper body! So using them while doing a pullups can make it much easier.

You also want to strengthen the muscles in your upper back such as your trapezius, rhomboids, Rear deltoids and the rest of the muscles that surround your shoulder blades. Some great exercises do would be bent-over rows, lat pulldowns or assisted pullups which is basically doing a pullup but with your feet on the ground the whole time! Even doing jumping pullups, or “negative pullups” using a bar that’s low enough so you can grab on to and your feet are still touching the floor, jump up till your chest touches the bar, hold yourself up and the lower as slowly as you can. This will help train your nervous system and muscles all at once so that it recognize the pulling pattern you trying to develop!

Now let’s go over a couple techniques to use while trying to execute the pull-up:

  •  Don’t imagine you’re pulling with your hands, or your elbows, try to pull with your shoulders. This will get the back muscles to turn on more to make the move easier.
  •  Try to pull as fast as you can, pulling up slow will make it more challenging, you want to go up with some speed but make sure you come down slowly.
  • Always keep your shoulders packed. What I mean by that is keep your shoulders and upper back muscles tight and strong! Don’t let them relax, especially at the bottom.
  •  Have fun! This is always important when training!

I hope that these tips and techniques will help you achieve the illusive pull-up. Don’t give up on it, always try and eventually one day it will all come together!


Meet this Incredible 77-Year-Old Bodybuilder!

We are so inspired by the story of Ernestine Shepherd, a 77-year-old bodybuilder that has proven to us that age really is "anything but a number". You can read more about Ernestine here.




Huffin & Puffin!!!! 

Huffin & Puffin!!!!

It is two-thirds through the workout that is the toughest----"Is this workout ever going to end?  I don't think I can do what it takes to be a physically fit Boomer!" 

The day I stopped coloring my hair and the mirror reflected a head full of gray, I did thorough research into living optimally as a 65 year old Boomer Woman, Findings were crystal clear:  To live an optimal life as a Boomer, find a way to exercise the body regularly.  Period.

So I walk into a gym--first time in my life to enter a gym.  This gym is 250 steps from my house, no kidding.  How is that for divine intervention?   Before I know what hit me, I have signed up with a personal trainer.  Six months and fifty sessions later, I am enlightened:  how compromised my knee has become compensating for an old knee injury, working out shifts my negative attitude to positive outlooks on life, and how much more energy I experience when I work out regularly.

 Ok, fine.  But these $75 sessions 3x week are draining the bank account really fast.  Not too motivated to end up in the poor house.  Okay.  So if that feels like too much money then there must be more options....when I stop to go within, it is amazing what happens.  I remember to practice what I preach!!

Practice what I preach

I followed my own advice:

1.  I took several, maybe seven, long, slow, deep inhales.

Here is the key:  Breathe into your lower belly, hips, and thighs.  Expand your inhale slowly and fully, all the way up to your collar bones. 

I invite you to try it--right now.

2.  On the exhale----slowly let out all the air, fully emptying, with your exhale lasting 1-2 seconds longer than your inhale.

Secret:  Extending your exhale 1-2 seconds longer than your inhale can shift you from anxiety, flight or fight, into peace and calm.

Recently I was tired after driving 1 1/2 hours for a meeting, remembered the long inhale, long exhale breathing, practiced for 45 minutes during the meeting, and was refreshed for the drive back home.

3.  I reminded myself exactly why I walked in the gym in the first place--to give my body the movement it needs to be strong and flexible enough to live optimally as a Boomer!

Moving my body with ease and grace gives me energy to focus on my Bucket List as I maneuver life as a Boomer.

The ah-ha comes

I remember that my trainer is offering senior group sessions, only 2-3 in the group, 3x a week.  The best part:  all part of my monthly gym fee!!

The truth is----I knew about these senior group workouts, but I did not want to be identified with a bunch of gray hairs trying to bend over! 

Just do it

I remembered from my personal trainer sessions how working out changes  negative attitudes I might have running, into more positive ways of looking at the world.  So I was sold---sign me up!!

Light at end of the tunnel

By the way--In the 3rd week of these workouts with my Boomer gym buddies, the workout starts out full of vim and vigor, then the huffin and puffin stage where I look at the clock, then the sigh of relief as we move into the last 1/3 with the stretching.  I just jump ahead in my head to 6 months from now when I am breezing thru these workouts, hardly noticing the time!!

Not being sure you have it in you to reach a far fetched goal is.....common, though maybe not so pleasant to experience!!  Maybe there is some adjusting to be had toward said goal??  As you take the first step, not sprinting to the finish line, you will see that momentum comes from taking one action, any action, that is moving toward your desired destination.  And you can always take a moment to leap ahead to how it will feel to meet your goal!!

peace and blessings for your heart,
Donna Jamila Crews