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If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about the Tufts 10K for Women, I would have told you that it’s annoying that they close of Memorial Drive on Columbus Day and you can’t get around Boston where you want to.  But last year, as I started pushing myself to run more and I found new challenges to take on, I registered for the race.  (Well, I convinced my friend to register for the race, was too chicken to actually register myself, and then had to pay the late entry fee when I got there because I couldn’t let her do it alone when it was my idea in the first place.)

Today was my second time running this race and I have to say, it’s amazing and inspiring.  It is not only extremely well-organized and planned out, but it is just fun.  I love their slogan – Start strong; finish stronger.  I love the route from the Boston Common through Back Bay, down Memorial Drive, across the Longfellow Bridge and back down Mass. Ave.  But I also love being surrounded by 7000 other women doing the same thing that I’m doing.

I never really think about being surrounded by strong, healthy women and how much that pushes me to continue on my own fitness journey, but today I was struck by the camaraderie that comes with sharing goals and common celebration.  Around mile 5, when I hit a slump, a woman in a green tank top came up beside me and said, “Come on, you can do it.”  She was right; I could.  That was the little push I needed to get me past my (mostly mental) wall and to the finish line.

I certainly didn’t set any personal records today, but I did accomplish a goal and I reminded myself what I need to do to keep at it.  Here’s hoping that while I keep going in my weight-loss journey, I keep getting the little pushes that I need to remind me that I can do it.  Thanks to that girl in the green top, if you happen to see this – I’m going to keep you in mind next time I’m feeling too lazy to pack my gym bag, make a healthy dinner, or treat myself well.


Recently one of my Back Bay Healthworks class participants came up after class to thank me for that morning’s workout.  I’m proud to report that this isn’t uncommon.  People often give me a “thank you” shout out on their way out the door, and it’s a fabulous farewell until we meet to workout together again.

But this thank you was different.  This wonderful woman, who always comes into the studio with a smile on her face, stopped for a minute after class to tell me how much she appreciates  that I squeeze a tough workout into a 30-minute class and that I change things up all the time.  It meant so much to me that she took the time to let me know.  And it means the world to me to know that those 30 minutes make a difference.

Ultimately, I appreciate that she comes to class–that she finds time in her busy schedule to make it to the gym.  I am happy to see everyone who comes to class and exercises. Thank goodness for all of the people doing something good for themselves by moving their bodies!   One of my coworkers came to Body Pump for the first time not long ago, and she complained of sore muscles for three days afterward.  Unpleasant?  Sure.  But my hope is that she will quickly start to see the very pleasant benefits of her hard work and will get hooked on the exercise.  She took a chance on coming to my class, and I know it wasn’t a small deal, but I suspect she may even have had some fun!

So, you can bet I’ll be bugging my coworker to come back for Body Pump-round 2, and I can promise everyone in my morning classes that I’ll be working on new moves to challenge them in that quick half hour we have before the rest of the day takes over.

My foot is ok – basically all healed. I have a bit of a cut on the top, but the bruising is gone. I have rested up, and following the end of an incredibly stressful semester, I am back and ready for action. I can’t explain how good it feels to be moving my body again. I think I used the hurt foot as a little bit of an excuse to bum around and be lazy – I mean, yes, it hurt, but there were probably ways I could have been active. It’s so tough to keep going in the thick of things. The semester was ridiculously crazy for me, and sometimes I just succumb to the feelings of stress. I know that it would make me feel better to just exercise for a little bit, but taking the time to go to the gym, or even just to go outside, somehow feels really stressful in itself. Thank goodness the semester is over! Plus, after a while of living the bum-life, I start to feel antsy. I noticed that, though I didn’t gain any weight (yay!), my body felt different. Usually, when I spin or run a lot, my thighs get very muscular, and I’ve noticed lately that my pants have been fitting differently (maybe that means I lost muscle?).

Last weekend my roommate and I decided to go for a run together. We used to run together all the time, but unfortunately M. tore a ligament this year and hasn’t been running at all. Lately, her physical therapist said it would be ok to run, but at a slower jogging pace – which, as it turns out, is my pace! So, on a gorgeous day, we headed out to hit the bike path. It felt so good to be up and moving, and to keep up with M., who is usually a very fast runner.

I’m back to my regular exercise schedule of 4 to 5 times a week, and it feels so good. I love feeling sore. Especially now that it feels summery outside, all I want to do is move my body!

– Hannah

I recently took part in the SHAPE Day event at Healthworks in Cambridge.  The Shape Day events which included BURN  and master classes were put on by the club to help benefit the Healthworks Foundation.  The Foundation helps empower women and children with physical activity at its two Foundation Fitness Centers: Healthworks at St. Mary’s and Healthworks at Codman.  For only $20 (a discounted rate for BURN classes) women could come in and experience the strength and interval training BURN is known for or they could choose to participate in various master classes including Ride! and Zumba.

I chose to participate in the BURN class because I haven’t been to one since I started playing volleyball and dodgeball this past winter.  I thought in addition to contributing to such a great cause as the Healthworks Foundation, I could do myself a favor by kickstarting my spring training.

During the course, we started with a warm up and then set out running hills on the treadmill building up to an 8% incline at our peak.

Then for our group’s first strength session we worked on squats and performed weighted lunges with hammer curls.

For our second round of interval training we worked on speed.  This was my favorite part because we could control our speeds and our trainer, Lauren, encouraged us to push ourselves to move out of our comfort zone.  By sprinting a little bit faster each time around, it really worked out our legs by lengthening our strides.  As Lauren put it, we were to pretend we were being chased by the “jungle life in Cambridge.”  Not sure if she meant the bikers or the cabbies but it felt good pushing myself faster than I normally would.

To round out the class, our final strength session involved core exercises including plank moves and scissor leg lifts.

It felt great to sweat it out and get myself back on track to work out regularly.  Helping such a great cause on top of that just made the good feelings from exercise even more sweet.  If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the Shape Day activities you can still donate to the Healthworks Foundation here.

Did you see the skiers and snowboarders at the top of the slopes in the winter Olympics?  Just before their run, they’d close their eyes, tuck their shoulders or spread their arms and weave and lean, watching themselves in their mind’s eye, taking every turn down the mountain.  This practice of intensely visualizing their performance is as much about their mental preparation as the physical. 

Us non-Olympians can use this tool too, in some surprisingly helpful ways.  For everything from the pragmatic to the far-reaching, visualizing can turn the outcome of a business meeting, an exercise plan, or a job interview, from a shot-in-the-dark to a good bet.

You may already use visualization in your everyday life.  For example, you could never pack a suitcase for a week’s vacation unless you thought about what the weather would be and the activities you’ll be doing.  That’s visualization. 

The Pragmatic – five minutes

Think how visualizing might affect this everyday scenario:

You’ve got a full day ahead of you, with many assorted activities. But before your day begins, or better yet, the night before, walk yourself through each part of your upcoming busy day: work — lunch date — back to work — gym — dinner with friends.  And just by seeing yourself in each of these situations, your brain registers small but important details: what you need to wear (suit for work; jeans for after work); how you’re going to get there (I’ll drive to work and take the subway to the lunch date); what you need to bring (workout clothes for the gym; some food to get me through to dinner). That’s when you either make a list (so you don’t have to keep it in your brain) or gather your things for the following day.  This whole procedure takes five minutes.  And if you didn’t do it, the chances of getting to the gym without your sneakers (and most likely skipping the workout entirely) are very high. 

The One-Shot Deal – two minutes

You’re nervous about a business meeting (or a job interview) this afternoon that could determine whether you win or lose a client.  Here’s what you do: Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.  Close your eyes and choose four words that you would like to characterize your upcoming interaction in the meeting.  The words might be confident, intelligent, open, and relaxed. Now take the first word. Inhale deeply; think confident.  Exhale slowly and see yourself shaking hands with poise or listening with confidence to your clients’ wishes. Repeat with the next word. See yourself in your mind’s eye, moving with these attributes, easily and expertly. Inhale – think intelligent – and see yourself talking intelligently.  Go through each of your four chosen words, breathing slowly, at least three times. That’s twelve deep breaths.  You can do that.

The Far-Reaching – 30 seconds each day

To change larger, more ingrained patterns in your life, small thoughtful adjustments can mean the difference between living a life in reaction to people or situations, or one that is mindful and intentional. 

If you are a parent, for example, and your child’s bedtime has become a meltdown screaming session about as conducive to sleep as a can of Red Bull, give yourself a few moments to mentally walk through the situation ahead of time.  What can you do or say differently; how will the child react?  Picture yourself and your child’s responses to find a new approach that has a new outcome. 

How about a fitness and nutrition program?  Picture yourself eating and enjoying lush vegetables (in my little world, broccoli are the street cleaners in my beautiful spotless arteries; French fries are the opposite and clog up the works).  Visualize when you’re walking with strong arms and legs that the oxygen is coming into your lungs and breathing energy into your toes and long flowing hair (ok, my hair is short, but I can picture anything I want). 

Visualizing is mental preparation that has physical benefits too.  Actors and musicians rehearse.   Athletes practice to build muscle memory and strength.   But since it’s difficult to practice a business meeting and the stakes feel quite high, your best strategy is to visualize yourself (practice, rehearse) saying and acting in ways that will help close the deal. 

So, are you ready for your gold medal ski jump? Picture where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.  Feel your muscles lifting you up into the air, holding that elongated ski-jumper’s pose, and landing smoothly, perfectly.  Feel the success and the crowd rushing toward you.  You’ve done it!

© 2010 Kristin Thalheimer
Trained in business development and entrepreneurship, Kristin has a dual role in the fitness industry both as an instructor and business coach. Kristin has been an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor at Healthworks since 1990, and business coach since 2002. Contact Kristin at, by email at or call 617 407-1124.

I’m a long time fan of personal training. 

As a bride, training with the late  Hungarian Olympic runner, Maria Kovacs, I  lost 12 inches in 6 weeks. 

As a mother of toddlers,  I trained with Radu Teodorescu, Cindy Crawford’s trainer,  who taught me to ‘be fit where you are.’ 

In my 40’s, I trained with Mike Lalor, the Montreal Canadiens, Stanley Cup-winning defenseman, who prepared me for a wild ride, dogsledding in the Canadian Rockies.  

And finally,  I trained with Shay Pastick, Healthworks‘ own Level 3 trainer and physical therapist who led me to realize that all my accumulated injuries and issues were a poor excuse for not working out.  

So there’s no misunderstanding,  I’m not a descendant of Jack LaLanne (though my  earliest memories of physical fitness do date that far back).  I am a woman in my fifties with a few extra pounds, a muffin top, not much cartilage left in my knees and a bad case of tennis elbow.  Dr. Oz says my “real age “ is a couple of years younger, but I’m no athlete and have my share of trouble remembering my vitamins. 

Finding an alternative 

With the economic free fall and three college tuitions looming, individual  personal training was no longer part of the personal care budget. It’s little wonder many top fitness experts pointed to group personal training as one of the hottest trends for 2010. In search of an affordable alternative, I found Cody Harter’s  “Lose It to Win it  Boot Camp.”   

What is boot camp?  

Boot camps, in general, are no-nonsense, intense group training sessions.  Modeled after soldiers’ physical training, workouts are fun, intense, varied, and a great way to burn lots of calories. They are remarkably efficient, giving participants of all ages a full body workout in just 50 minutes 

In fact, Cody Harter’s six year stint as a Marine is evident in everything from his intense preparation to his no goofing around attitude.  This is serious business.   People take these intense measures because they want results.  Cody delivers. 

How it works   

You’ll find us somewhere around Route 9 in the early hours most Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  You’ll see ten  to fourteen ladies of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities, likely lugging  25 pound body  bars through the back roads of Chestnut Hill.  We’re counting off lunges, squats, push ups and jumping jacks.  You might even see the dreaded 12 kilo green kettlebell passed around between team members, a cruel reminder of what it’s like to lug around any additional weight.   There’s homework too.   Add in a minimum of five additional intense cardio workouts each week… grueling calorie burning combinations of step mill, elliptical, arc trainer, and treadmill.  Already spinning, swimming, hiking  or walking as part of a personal fitness regime?  It doesn’t count. Cody claims those activities are just part of living an active lifestyle.  This is different.  This makes you hungry and sore.   It also makes you sleep like a baby. 

No workout is ever the same as the one before, so boredom is never a problem.  That is  frequently a very good thing.   As a boot camp member , I now expect that I’ll do plenty of things I don’t think I can, and  plenty of things I don’t really want to.   But most of all, I am amazed at the things I can do.   And, after ten weeks of this, I know that as long as I  stay focused and give it my all, I’ll be okay…maybe better than okay. 

Raining again? No problem... bootcamp moves inside. These ladies are smiling because their workout is over and they just burned 600 calories. Don’t they look fabulous?! (Note the dreaded green kettleball, bottom left).

Are you up for the challenge?

Cody Harter’s “Lose It to Win It Boot Camp” concludes its current six week session, on April 1. Plans are to extend the sessions for an unprecedented third consecutive run with a fitting theme of “Performance Fitness.”  The six week, 12 session  program begins April  13,  meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 am – 8:00 am and costs $209.00 for Healthworks members. At just shy of  $18.00 a session, it’s a great alternative to individualized personal training.  Non-members are welcome at a fee of  $270.00.  To book your space or for more information, contact Healthworks Chestnut Hill at  617-383-6100.   Book your space on line. Or try a special demonstration class on  Thursday, April  8 at 7:00 am for $10.00 (pre-registration required).  

Hope to see you there! 

Roberta B. 

 Roberta Balder has been a Healthworks member since 2005.  As a mid- career marketing manager and social media anthropologist she enjoys helping small businesses grow their market share using digital media.  Roberta muses about her experiences using new media in her blog.



Busy, busy, busy! Between work, social engagements, teaching yoga, and doing some freelance work, I’ve definitely been stretched for time lately. Plus the gorgeous weather of last week had me longing to ditch all of my responsibilities and just enjoy the sun. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to be responsible when the weather is more dismal, at least in these early months of Spring, when the longer daylight hours and warmer temps feel so new and exciting…These distractions and duties have unfortunately kept me away from Healthworks and away from blog writing for about a week! I’m excited to start off this new week feeling re-set – looking forward to doing some running, Zumba, and maybe checking out a Body Pump class, which I have yet to try. I’m also determined to get back on track with healthy eating, which took a bit of a detour over the past week. Tonight I’m making one of my favorite Spring/Summer salads – Jicama citrus – to go along with some homemade black bean burgers.

Jicama looks like a giant turnip, and underneath its brown skin is a white, juicy, crunchy flesh that is slightly sweet. I experimented with it a few weeks ago and came up with a super-simple salad recipe that makes a great side dish for any Southwestern-inspired menu. Add some avocado for a more filling salad to eat on its own.


Jicama Citrus Salad

1 small jicama, peeled and julienned

2 peeled and sectioned oranges – I used the Cara Cara which is especially bright and flavorful

½ red onion, diced

2 tbps olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp juice reserved from the oranges

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cumin

Combine the jicama, sectioned oranges, and onion in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, juice, and spices. Pour dressing into the larger bowl and mix well.

This salad tastes good right away, and even better after it has marinated in the juices for a day or two. Enjoy in the sunshine!

– Jean

In the last blog I said that I was going to attend my first class and report back. Well I’m happy to say that the Zumba class was the most fun I’ve had doing anything that could be called exercise. I sweated and smiled for a whole hour–certainly a first for me. The class was taught by Iliana whose energy is positively contagious. Her manner and the Latin beat would make even the most confirmed couch potato get up and move. I also very much enjoyed her friendly open manner. We all wore name tags and she definitely fostered a real feeling of community in the class.

Most importantly I could do it. I lasted for the whole hour. Each of the approximately 10 songs we danced to had about 4 different moves, that weren’t difficult to learn and with plenty of repetition, I was (mostly) able to keep up. Some of the steps were quite quick, so sometimes I did three steps to her four, but I still got a good workout.

I had my heart rate monitor on and glanced at it from time to time. It was mostly about 130–good enough for me–especially since it stayed up there for an hour. I am now busy looking for other dance type classes. I realize I’ve found my niche. I’m going to dance myself thin. I’m so happy to have a fun alternative to the dreaded elliptical and treadmill. I won’t give up the stepmill. Even though I hate it, you get a lot of bang for your buck on that one. I highly recommend Iliana’s class at Back Bay on Thursdays at 9:30 am.

I’m off to Florida to see my mom tomorrow morning. All on my own–no doctor, no trainer, no gym–we’ll see how I do. (Of course, I will have my mom who at 84 is still hopeful that I will lose weight!

– Cheryl

I’ve lived in the Boston area for almost 6 years.  Though my parents have visited once or twice a year since I started school out here, not many of my family members, especially my cousins, have been able to make the trip out east. After all of my begging and coercing, things have finally changed and this past week, I’ve had my two cousins, Leigh and Anne, as visitors.  Fortunately for me, my aunts and grandmother decided to come along and explore the city with the girls while I work during the day.

Throughout the week, they have seen the best of Boston – the customary trip to Ye Old Union Oyster House, a walk along the Freedom Trail, “making way for the ducklings” in the Common, etc.   Before and after work hours have been a less traditional exploration of the Best of Boston.

For a fun evening activity, I decided to bring Leigh and Anne to my Tuesday night dodgeball league.  As added entertainment, it was theme night, so we dressed up in our best Jimmy Buffet “Parrot Head” gear.  Leigh is a theater major so she was responsible for our team “war paint” and Anne, a former softball player, was responsible for throwing the heat during our matches.  Both were a success!

 Finally I wanted to show my cousins what I do on a typical day because I don’t usually gorge on oysters and bar food, surprisingly.  We woke up early and went to Healthworks to see where I work out.  Leigh, the singer/dancer/actress of the family, enjoyed a “butt-kicking Pilates class!”  (Direct quote!) while Anne and I hit the treadmill and the free weights together, adding up some mileage and toning up.  A good workout seemed necessary after enjoying all the wonderful food Boston has to offer. It was nice to get to share with them the ways that I stay active while living in the city and I think it opened them up to some new ideas for them to work out.  It also provided some fun memories to have while I’m away from my family.

– Kate

Do you share fitness time with family members?  What are some of your favorite activities to do together?

I recently started a list of “101 in 1001” which is essentially a list of 101 goals to complete in 1001 days.  While this started shortly after the New Year, it is decidedly NOT a New Year’s resolution-esque in that the list consists of tangible, smaller achievable goals within the next 3 years or so.  Such as: learn to cook chicken (I know… I’m a horrible cook), try rock climbing, ski Tuckerman’s, read a book per month, etc. 

After a particularly draining weekend (that involved wading through 5 ½ feet of snow in the backwoods of upstate New York in a failed attempt to actually ski that powder… but that’s another story there), I decided to tackle my goal of “Go to yoga more often,” by finding a class at Healthworks that fit into my schedule: a 4:00 Sunday afternoon class.  This goal was prompted by my orthopedist’s suggestion, who noted my relative inflexibility and the benefits for me, as a runner who is apparently prone to injury, of getting my allotted stretching and toning time in.  I have been to yoga classes, and for a period of time in my life I would go fairly regularly, probably 1-2 times a week, but in the past couple years this activity has dramatically fallen to the wayside.  As a cardio-addict, I will admit that the spiritual level of yoga escapes me, and I gravitate toward the deep stretching, challenging positions, and continual flow of certain yoga classes. 

I guess in my race to accomplish my goal, I didn’t fully read the yoga class description.  As it turns out, this was not the Power Yoga or Hatha Yoga to which I was accustomed.  If I had read more carefully, I would have seen that Vinyasa Yoga is “a flowing style of yoga that deeply integrates breath and movement, awareness and alignment, and stability and flexibility. Thoughtful sequencing and moderate pacing keep the body gracefully engaged and stimulate mindful focus.”

I won’t lie.  For the first 10 minutes, I considered leaving.  I was ready to get past all the sitting and breathing precursors.  I wanted to do some downward dogs and sun salutations.  Where was the flow?  But then… I guess I just let go of all my body hang-ups and focused (it helped that the instructor had a really soothing voice and instructive narrative).  And it just started to click.  In this class, I slowed down, really sank into those stretches, and focused on my breathing.  My mind went elsewhere, and I didn’t care that this probably wasn’t a huge calorie burning session. 

It also dawned on me that I’ve been tired.  Like, really really mentally and physically tired.  I run around from 6 am to 8 pm on the weekdays.  On the weekend, I have (too many) social obligations, plus catching up with mundane tasks.  Plus, recently, I’ve been faced with some really life-changing decisions, which, while absolutely positive, have replaced the space in my brain that used to think about other things.  Even getting to a yoga class on a Sunday afternoon (after having taken Sunday morning spin) was tiring.  My mind is on a continual loop of checklists and to-do’s.  (Yoga mat?  Sports bra?  Tights?  Gas in car?  check.  check.  check.  check.)

After the class, I felt comfortable in my body, quiet in my mind.  It was a good way to end a Sunday.  I’ll be sure to do it again. 

 – Joanna