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I feel like I’ve spent the past couple of months lacking focus and motivation (to put it politely) when it comes to nutrition and working and out and, well, pretty much everything.  I have no problem blaming part of this on the weather – when even walking to the bus starts to look like a scene from the Iditarod, it is hard not to take comfort in the arms of pizza, red wine, my couch and a good book.  Add to this the fact that I’ve found myself working a fair amount on the weekends and my fitness goals were starting to take a back seat (which is so not where they belong).  So I jumped at the chance to participate in Healthwork’s Drop 10 Challenge. The promise of accountability and some friendly competition seems like just the kick in the (maybe fitting just a little too snug) pants I need.  I had my initial assessment on Saturday with Lauren and we got to sit down and talk as well.  It was great to be able to set some new goals and also to articulate some of the struggles I’ve had recently, as well as some of the things I’m really enjoying (TRX!).

I highly recommend sitting down every few months (no matter good or bad things are going) and taking stock – I left the gym feeling better (and more focused) than I have in months.  I realized (or maybe just admitted) that my biggest problem lately is that I’m not taking the time I need on the weekends to do proper meal planning and preparation, which means I end up eating crap throughout the week, which makes me feel like crap, etc., etc. (As an aside, my favorite part of Saturday’s conversation went like this:  Me:  “I’ve just been eating so much crap lately” / Lauren:  “I’d rather hear that you have been eating too much, but still eating healthy food” / Me:  “Well, I’d rather be able to tell you that – but I would be lying”).

I know that I do really well when I spend time on Sundays doing all my meal planning and preparation – but I’ve been letting other things (work, helping friends, bad TV) get in the way.  So this weekend found me with my recipe collection and my calculator planning out all of my meals for the week.  I then spent a few hours Sunday afternoon doing all the cooking.  And oh my, I made a new recipe from Eating Well for a healthy version of tuna noodle casserole – after the first bite (also, in the interest of full disclosure, after I made a second batch due to ruining the first one with my broiler), I remembered why it is worth it for me to take the time on the weekends to do this.

So tomorrow is the first Drop 10 workout.  I’m looking forward to it.  My team is totally going to win.  (Hence the title of this post).  That is, assuming the results of my Drop 10 are more successful than my first attempt at that tuna noodle casserole…


I had a meltdown in the middle of my class last night.  It was awful.

We were nearly halfway through an hour of step aerobics, and my choreography completely fell apart.  I was trying to lead the class through one of the same combinations we had done the week before – a really tricky combo, but a really fun one many had mastered the first time but which warranted another go-round.  However, no matter how much I tried, I just could not get it to work.  We were off the beat.  We had extra counts left at the end of the combo.  I was getting those confused, frustrated looks … I was ruining their workout!   I wanted to give up.  Right there in the middle of the studio, I just wanted to sit on my bench and cry like a little girl who flops down on the floor in the middle of the grocery store and wails an embarrassing tantrum.

Obviously I can’t quit in the middle of class.  I know that.  If you’re standing in front of a crowd giving a speech and your mind goes blank, you might be able to stand there for a few seconds gathering yourself, but eventually you have to go on.  I couldn’t just stand there in step class trying to get a grip.  I had to keep everyone moving.  The music was still playing and hearts still thumping.  I made them march and do jumping jacks and go back to the warm-up combo to keep them sweating while I mentally regrouped.

I’ve been teaching group fitness for nearly ten years, and it’s been a long time since I had a total brain block like I had last night.  I felt horrible!  Every Monday, I can’t wait for step class.  It is pure step: five 32-count combos built into one 60-minute workout.  I change it every week, and I love it every time.  Maybe I put too much emphasis on fancy moves and not enough on the exercise—back to the drawing board for next class.

I always tell the women in my classes that they can’t give up.  They have to keep coming to the gym.  They have to keep trying.  Last night it was the women in my class who kept me going and who reminded me that, even if I have a meltdown, they still got a great workout.  Whew!  So I might lose a little sleep about it, perfectionist that I am, but I’ll be back next week.  We have to keep going back.

– Sarah

I had to go to the dentist this week: Ick.  Of course I love how squeaky clean my teeth feel after my appointment, but the dread leading up to my visit and the potential pain which can occur during the visit always seem to detract from the positive outcome I will eventually enjoy.  And now that I’m thirty, my gums have decided to revolt.  No matter how much I try to be a good little flosser, and no matter how well I follow the periodontist’s directions, I can’t seem to get my hygienist to give me an ‘A’ (other than for effort) grade at my appointments.

This kind of frustration is something I’ve heard women express about their gym experience.  They feel like they do the right thing by going to the gym and watching their diets, but they just don’t see the results they were expecting.  When working out feels like a chore, it is that much more frustrating when the benefits fail to appear.  I know people give up for this very reason – they have very little time to exercise, it’s not enjoyable, and they don’t see any change – so they quit.  When I’m tired, and all I want to do is go to sleep, the last thing I want to do is spend ten minutes going through my gum-care regimen.   But I have kept at it.  I am determined that next time I go to the dentist, they will give me a gold star and, even better, I’ll have a healthier smile.

It’s the same with the gym.  I know it’s not always fun, and the results may not be immediately visible, but good things ARE happening.  Our bodies are getting healthier and stronger.  There are hidden benefits, and it’s only a matter of time before they show.  Plus, I always say, if your workout isn’t fun, come to a class – we’ll make it fun.  I’ll smile all the way through class with my clean white teeth!


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

I’ve been so lax about writing here.  I’ve recently been subbing for a class full-time and I have been very busy.  Also working all day long teaching, running around and trying to keep on top of all the work has left me exhausted.  I’ve been managing to get to spinning a few times per week but still I know it isn’t’ enough.  I know that working out more will help manage the stress and keep me energized but by the time I get home at 3 pm I’m beat.  When 6 rolls around, the last thing I want to do is change and go to the gym.  In fact there are some evenings when I’ve been in bed by 5 or 6 pm, I’ve been so worn out!   How do you manage work/workout stress and planning and finding ways to fit it in? 

I’ve also been doing some reading and research about healthy eating as of late, and I cannot believe how expensive it is to eat well.  When the time comes to do groceries on my tight budget, I’m lucky if I have ten dollars a week to cover food for the week.  Having lots of food allergies doesn’t help; and I am limited in certain things I can eat and buy (I have nut, soy, and pea allergies) which make it hard to follow healthy eating plans outlined in women’s health magazines like Self and Shape, as well as diet plans like South Beach.  Not being able to have nuts or soy makes it hard.  I also face a challenge when it comes to protein as I do not eat red meat or pork.  The added challenge is financial and needing to make each dollar count. 

– Cindy

How do you manage healthy eating on a strict budget?  Do you also face food allergies or limitations in your life?

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 have a confession to make.  Fitness Flashback is my favorite class. 

Healthworks just put this class on the schedule in January, but it has quickly become something I look forward to every Sunday morning.  Toward the end of the week, I begin pondering which songs I want to use for class, and on Saturdays I comb through my music library to create a playlist.  Most often I find great oldies in my own collection, but sometimes I go shopping in search of other classics to add in the mix. One of the wonderfully energetic and generous members who takes my classes in Brookline surprised me with an iTunes gift card for the holidays, and I spent the entire amount on Flashback music.  It was the perfect gift!

The next step involves kitchen dancing.  I already have fun routines made up to my favorite songs, and I’ve inherited fabulous choreography from instructors I teamed with in the past.  But other songs require creative be-bopping in the small space between my dinner table and refrigerator.  Whether I decide on a mambo, grapevine, pony or some kind of shimmy-shake, the moves have to fit the music so the exercise feels like dancing instead of working.  I’m sure any neighbors whose windows face mine probably think I’m crazy hopping around next to my stove, but I’m willing to risk the scrutiny.

Final preparation is my walk to the gym, when I listen to my iPod and dance the workout in my head.  I am always excited to surprise the class with a new song (well, old song we haven’t heard in a while) and a goofy move that will make us all laugh as we burn calories and pump our hearts.

Never tried it?  Put on “Johnny Be Good,” play the guitar on your leg and hop backwards, shaking your head like a fool.  Then come to Fitness Flashback and do it with everybody in class!

– Sarah

It’s been hectic lately, and I haven’t been at a hundred percent this week.  I’m still dragging from a weekend conference which was, while absolutely fun, totally exhausting.  My muscles are stiff and I have a scratchy throat that I hope is only from teaching without a microphone and not a sign of impending illness.

But I do not write today to vent or complain.  I write today to say that YOU are the reason I’ve been able to get through this week.  Each time I’ve gone to the gym to teach a class, you’ve walked through those studio doors smiling, asking what we’re going to do for our workout or what music I’ll be playing.  You tell me how thrilled you are about your legs feeling stronger or your injury getting better.  You ask a meaningful question that shows me your workout means something to you. 

You give your full effort through squats and jumping jacks and complicated choreography, and you impress me with your endurance—with your drive to improve.  You keep me going when I want to stop or when my legs start to feel like giant jello-y puddles.  I take pride in knowing my job is to motivate you, but it heartens me incredibly to feel that inspiration from you.  If I were a set of dumbbells, today you would be lifting me up.

Thank you.

I am thrilled to be writing my first blog for Healthworks, and I want to begin by addressing the issue that always comes up when I find myself in a discussion about health and fitness: yes, I do love to exercise and …. no, I am not crazy for loving it.  I actually enjoy going to the gym.  But I always have, and here’s why.

It’s nearly impossible for me to set foot in a gym without thinking of my mom.  She always made working out look like a great time.  From the time I was a little girl, sitting on the living room floor with my blocks and puzzles, Mom would be jogging, jumping, and twisting in her leotard and headband.  I wanted to have a pair of gray KangaROO sneakers (with the little zippers on the sides!) and to do jumping jacks and leg kicks just like her.

 When I was a teenager, she took me to the YWCA where she taught aerobics, when it was called “aerobics,” and step class in a studio with carpeted floors and pastel walls.  She would bop around the room, yelling over the Pointer Sisters on her mixed tape, and I would try my best to keep up. From the very beginning, working out seemed like a kind of dance party or an excuse for friends to play great music, wear their hair in ponytails, and just boogie to forget about everything else for a little while.  Of course, there are days when I would rather sit on my couch than hike all the way to the gym, but most of the time I look forward to the gym because I know there will be a group of amazing women there with sneakers on and their hair in ponytails, ready to de-stress with fun moves and maybe a few pushups.

I know I’m lucky because working out has always been a good experience for me.  I thank my mom for that.  She made it fun.  And it makes me wonder, can you remember how much fun it was just to hop up and down as a kid?  Or dance with friends? Or just change out of “grown- up” clothes into comfy sneakers and sweats?  It feels great.

 – Sarah