Are you ready to work your core like never before? Here is all you need to know about Midtown’s newest class to help you get the “hard core” results you want.
Intro to Group Core – Group Core is 30 minutes of intense core training, athlete -style. The moves are designed to work all of the muscles between your shoulders and hips to help improve performance, prevent back pain, and give you the abs you’ve always wanted. Instructor Vicky gave a strong indication of the effort required when she said (while smiling), “it’s not going to be easy.”
Equipment Used – Participants use their body weight, weight plates, platforms with adjustable risers, and towels to create resistance.
Class Sequence – The class includes the following tracks:
CorePREP, a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles for the workout.
CoreMAX, a circuit training approach that combines whole-body functional movements to train the maximum number of core muscles. You might experience a heart rate increase too!
CoreINTEGRATION, a circuit training approach that includes total body exercises with a special emphasis on the back and glutes (this reviewer’s favorite track).
CoreSTABILITY, trains the muscles that promote spinal stability using hovers (planks), with options available to increase the challenge. Control is the name of the game in this track.
CoreMOBILITY, brings it home with more traditional abdominal training, including a one-minute “peak” that will “knock your socks off!”, says Vicky.
Keys to Success– Group Core is more than “just abs,” and even participants who exercise regularly have experienced muscles working that they didn’t know were there. The class requires a bit of an adjustment period to get used to the fast pace and variety of movements, so it’s important to allow yourself time to learn how to effectively move through your space in new ways.
Support muscles, such as the shoulders and hips, may also become fatigued or sore, but this will improve as muscles get stronger over time. Stick with the class one to three times per week, and you will be well on your way to building the core you want.
Instructor/Participant Reviews– The class has received rave reviews, both as a stand-alone core workout, and as a combination workout with Group Power or other cardio classes and programs. Participants say it is challenging, effective, and fun.
As Instructor Frank put it, “You can tell you are making change because you feel it the next day…just take your time learning the moves and enjoy the experience. You get a bonus abdominal workout if you are willing to laugh!”
Midtown Oak Park Personal Trainer Jim Albrecht has your answers.
With 10 years of personal training experience (8 years at Midtown), and as a Resistance Training Specialist (RTS), Jim has a great deal of knowledge to share.
Question: Why is strength training important?
Jim: There is a common misconception that we don’t need to strength train if we participate in a particular sport or are active in general. Muscular imbalances are extremely common in all types of exercisers, and strength training balances out muscle groups resulting in improved functionality. Additionally, strength training can prevent muscle atrophy and the resulting loss of strength and flexibility that occurs as we age.
Question: What is the most common weight training mistake you see?
Jim: Poor posture. I always teach posture before I teach an exercise to ensure that the movement is as safe and effective as possible. Posture begins with a neutral spine in the lower back and extends up into the shoulders, with a strong core in the middle. I encourage my clients to take a break or lower the weight if they start to lose their posture during an exercise, because perfect reps with less weight will lead to greater strength gains.
Question: How would you coach someone who is just starting a weight training program?
Jim: Beginning a structured exercise program is a lifestyle change, regardless of the shape you are in, so taking small steps is key. Many people push themselves a little too hard at the beginning and end up tweaking muscles in their low back, hips, or quads. My job as a trainer is to help my clients understand their current abilities and provide them with an appropriate level of challenge without overdoing it.
Question: How long does it take to make strength gains?
Jim: It depends on how hard are you willing to work out, and how often. Consistency means working all muscle groups at least one time per week. Two is better, with 3-4 days of cardiorespiratory exercise. On their own, men often avoid lower body work (resulting in weak glutes), and women often avoid upper body work (resulting in a weak back, chest, and shoulders). So, I usually do one day of upper body and one day of lower body with my clients, with the expectation that they will come in and work out on their own. That’s why instructing my clients on how to perform the exercises correctly is so important to helping them reach their goals.
Question: How do you make a strength training workout effective?
Jim: Decide what exercise you are going to start with, take your time with the first set, and then tailor your workout according to the way you feel. If the first set goes well, meaning you are performing repetitions as slowly and controlled as possible and feeling strong, you can do another set. A couple sets of really good reps is better than getting through every exercise on your list. Proper strength training takes a certain amount of concentration – my clients tell me that’s why they never get bored!
Question: Why do you like being a personal trainer?
Jim: Personal training is the only job (other than instructing scuba) where I spend one-on-one time with people I normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to know. Exercise is a concept everyone should think about, and honesty and trust are necessary on both sides of the trainer-client relationship. The most important thing I do is teach people how to use posture to correctly perform an exercise, so that they can repeat it on their own. You don’t have to do it “my way,” just safely and effectively, and you will reach your goals.
Thank you, Jim, for sharing your weight training wisdom with us!
If you have a question you would like one of the trainers in the Fitness department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
One of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is to improve health.
Unfortunately, most New Year’s Resolutions are also doomed to fail.
In the interest of saving you time in route to your destination (the body of your dreams, we hope!), let’s examine some of the most common exercise mistakes to determine whether you have what it takes to succeed.
Mistake #1: Doing Too Much, Too Soon
If it has been a while since you’ve exercised, or you have been exercising inconsistently, your body isn’t going to respond well to a strenuous program right off the bat. Choose a schedule that you can stick to (e.g. one hour per day, three times per week), and begin at an intensity level that feels challenging, but not debilitating. Make sure to incorporate adequate time for a warm-up and cool-down.
Mistake #2: Forgetting Proper Technique
When it comes to resistance training, technique is the difference between getting results and getting injured, or not seeing any improvement at all. It starts with proper posture, which means keeping the core engaged (imagine how you would brace yourself if someone was about to punch you in the stomach), and standing tall with a neutral spine, shoulder blades pulled back, and head lifted.
Courtesy of Denverpost.com
Also, make sure you know the purpose of the exercise you are about to perform. What muscles are working? What is the proper range of motion for the exercise? Is this the most effective way to target the muscles I want to work?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to talk to a trainer or instructor, or do some research on your own. Time spent now on learning how to do the exercise correctly means less time to your goal.
Mistake #3: Choosing Quantity Over Quality
If doing an hour of cardio means walking on a treadmill while you catch up on the latest episode of Law and Order and you barely break a sweat, then that hour didn’t do a whole lot to help you improve your fitness (the same concept applies to doing a lot of repetitions with almost negligible weight). Working out should feel challenging, and the good news is, challenging yourself appropriately will lead you to the results you want in less time.
Courtesty of Workoutequip.com
Mistake #4: Always Doing the Same Thing
Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up cycling if that is your favorite workout. Just make sure that you are changing your exercise intensity from time to time (alternating hard days and easy days, or increasing resistance over time), and maintaining a balanced program. That means incorporating cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.
Now for the Number One resolution-killer
Mistake #5: Ignoring the Truth
Make sure you are answering the following questions honestly:
Do I have the time and motivation to reach the goal I have set for myself?
Am I choosing the right exercises for my current fitness level that will help me get where I want to go?
If your goal is weight loss – am I overestimating calories out and underestimating calories in? (For assistance, check out our post on Heart Rate Monitors.)
Do I have a method of measuring my progress that isn’t just stepping on a scale (e.g. monitoring heart rate at a given pace, distance covered per unit time, reps completed before reaching fatigue, documenting how you feel)?
If the answer to these questions is “No,” or “I’m not sure,” you may be setting yourself up for failure. Give yourself your best chance at fitness this year – avoid these detrimental mistakes, create and stick to a plan, and go for it!
What are your fitness goals this year? What steps are you taking to achieve them?
The annual holiday blizzard has hit, complete with last-minute shopping trips, baking extravaganzas, parties, parties, and more parties. How about giving yourself the gift of stress relief and letting your workouts at Midtown be the calm in your storm? Here are all the details you need to know about the remaining holiday events at the club.
An Opportunity to Give Back
Help someone stay warm this season by decorating our Holiday Mitten Tree. This month, Midtown is collecting donations of new mittens/gloves, hats, and scarves for West Suburban PADS to distribute to those in need in our community. Both children’s and adults’ sizes are needed, so let’s make it as full and colorful as possible! Thank you in advance for your support of this great cause.
10:30AM – 12:00PM New Years Yoga and Meditation with Teresa
And in case you didn’t have a chance to join us on Christmas Eve, here is a quick recap of some of our special holiday classes:
The morning began with a special sneak-peek of Group Core, a high-energy class designed to trim and tone every muscle between your hips and shoulders. The class will become part of our regularly scheduled programming in January, so stay tuned.
Several members also rushed to our annual Jingle Jam cycle class, featuring all of the classic holiday hits. If you think Santa’s reindeer worked hard on Christmas Eve, they had nothing on our dedicated cyclers!
Wishing all Midtown members and friends a joyous holiday season, and a happy and healthy 2012. How are you going to make this your best year yet?
Why do we care about trends? Researchers study them, writers report them, teachers teach them, and tweeters tweet them. Although there are many advantages to being “in the know,” one of the most important reasons to pay attention to trends is that they can help us prepare for and adapt to changes ahead.
Over the past six years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has identified trends in the fitness industry with their ”Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends” (you can view the full 2012 survey text here). Come January 1, some of the most popular resolutions will be health- and fitness-related, so let’s get a jump on meeting our goals by looking at what the 2012 fitness trends mean for us.
Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals are the core of a rapidly expanding industry. In spite of tough economic times, consumers still place a lot of value in getting and staying healthy. The fitness industry has responded to this need by employing qualified trainers and instructors.
What does that mean for you? You can breathe a little easier knowing that you can trust your fitness professionals to lead you in safe and effective workouts, helping you reach your goals faster and giving you more bang for your buck.
Strength training is here to stay. Having been near the top of the trends list for several years, strength training is the first training “type” on the trends list, accompanied by personal, core, functional, and group training.
What does that mean for you? Since most of us sit at a desk all day, adding a little weight-bearing exercise such as resistance training can help improve our energy levels, mood, and overall functionality. Expect fitness centers to continue to update equipment and training options to facilitate strength-training programs that meet the needs of all types of exercisers – a stronger body is yours for the taking!
No one will be left behind. Training options are becoming more population-specific, with new programs being tailored to the aging Baby Boomer population and the fight against childhood obesity (just to name a few). Your fitness professionals are trained specifically to work with a variety of individuals from athletes to people fighting obesity or other diseases.
What does that mean for you? The fitness industry is actively trying to meet you where you are to help you get the most you can out of an exercise program, regardless of your goals or fitness level. In other words, you don’t have to start off looking like Jane Fonda to make exercise a part of your life.
It’s all about energy. Zumba, boot camp, and spinning are growing in popularity. These group classes are high-energy and fun, and put the emphasis on pushing your physical limits.
What does that mean for you?Releasing stress through dancing, high-intensity training, and cycling will leave you feeling strong, accomplished, and ready to tackle life’s challenges. You just have to be willing to give them a try. And although not “trending” anymore, Pilates fans shouldn’t be worried that their favorite class is going to disappear; only time will tell whether these new arrivals and old favorites will continue on as actual trends rather than fads.
The key this year is to work with Midtown to customize a fitness program that will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuventated, and (hopefully) like you had a darn good time.
Now that you know what’s to come in 2012, it’s time to use this information to start doing something that will work for you.
Your 2012 motto shouldn’t be “once I meet my goal, I’ll be happy.” Instead, how about you take a chance on what the industry is giving you and say “it’s time to give myself knowledge, revitalizing energy, and a sense of accomplishment, and add some more fun to my fitness routine.” Now that’s a reason to work out today.
What do you think of these trends? Have you already tried any of these fitness programs or plan to in 2012? What are you going to do differently in your workout routine this year?
You wrote it, we read it, and now we’re sharing it! Last month, Midtown group fitness instructor Frank Ringhofer led a promotion encouraging members to share stories about how group exercise has helped you reach your fitness goals. Sure, we could just recap the research reports that tell us that group exercise adds accountability, structure, and fun to a workout routine, but we thought our own participants are really the best authority on the subject.
So here are your Top 5 Reasons Why It Really is “Better in Groups!”
You Sweat No one said it better than Joyce, “When I first joined the club, I did not perspire…now I am a virtual faucet.”Group exercise classes provide new physical challenges that help participants get outside their comfort zone. Instructors constantly bring you new ways to train your cardiorespiratory and muscular systems, so that you won’t get stuck in a rut. According to Pat, “I don’t get nearly as good of a workout running or on an elliptical as I do in Spin class.”
You Make Gym Buddies If you know the chest track in Group Power is about to make your arms burn like never before, it’s much easier to go for it with friends by your side. Group exercise classes provide a way to connect with others who will encourage and support you en route to reaching your fitness goals. As one of our members said, friends help you “endure and progress.” You also told us that many class-formed friendships even go beyond the walls of Midtown. How great is that?
You Add Variety to Your Routine Many members mentioned the appeal of the variety within and between classes at Midtown. From Yoga, Pilates, and Qi Gong, to Group Active, Group Power, Group Kick, and Group Step, to Cycle, and of course Zumba(!), there is really something for everyone regardless of your fitness level, or even your mood on any particular day. Instructors are consistently changing and adapting classes by providing new music, new moves, and new motivation, which brings us to our next benefit…
You Get Inspired and Motivated, and Have Fun We were so pleased to hear from many of you that our instructors are going above and beyond to respond to and meet your needs. Our number one goal is to provide safe and effective fitness classes, and getting you excited to come back for more is the ultimate bonus! According to Sally, “Caring instructors who are willing to share modifications that make things doable for ME are what keep me coming back.” Please continue to provide us with your feedback, so that we can continue to exceed your expectations.
You Can Take Your Fitness to a New Level Perhaps the best thing we learned from reading your stories is that group classes have helped you make some incredible changes in your lives. You have improved multiple aspects of fitness, including aerobic capacity, muscular strength/endurance, and flexibility. Many of you have also achieved significant weight loss, and are feeling healthier than ever. While we could sit here and take the credit for your success, we instead offer our congratulations to you for putting in the effort and making it happen. You are the inspiration for why we teach!
If you haven’t tried group exercise yet, I want to leave you with one last thought from Deborah, who submitted our winning entry: “This is the first time in my life that I have kept a fitness habit going for as long as I have. I don’t plan to ever go back to my former non-fit self. Try it. You’ll get hooked!”
Thank you, Deborah, for your inspiring words, and thanks to all who participated in sharing your stories with us.
You have nothing to lose (except maybe a few pounds), so get started with group exercise today!
Boot camps are a popular trend in the fitness world. Participants expect to be pushed to their physical limits to achieve results fast. This is certainly an enticing proposition, but may also be somewhat intimidating.
Is Boot Camp appropriate for all fitness levels? What does Boot Camp offer that other fitness classes and programs do not?
I sat down with Personal Trainer Kelly O’Brien to learn more about what Midtown’s Boot Camp is all about.
Kristen: What is Boot Camp?
Kelly: Boot Camp is a small group training class that allows participants to get semi-private training at an economical price. Each session is designed using the principles of interval training to burn more calories.
Kristen: What is the advantage of interval training?
Kelly: Interval training consists of periods of higher intensity exercise, which increase the heart rate, followed by periods of lower intensity exercise to allow for recovery and the ability to accomplish more high-intensity work overall. Interval training has been shown to increase cardio-respiratory fitness and burn more calories in shorter periods of time.
Question: What happens in a typical class?
Kelly: It’s hard to talk about what is “typical” because we mix it up all the time! Weather permitting, we usually go to the track and field area at Concordia University (about a 5 minute walk from Midtown). We run, do squats, lunges, pushups, sprints, jump rope, run bleachers, and sometimes finish up back inside the club with TRX. The variety in the class is a big benefit because it constantly pushes the body to adapt to new challenges.
Kristen:That sounds pretty intense. Can anyone take this class?
Kelly: Anyone can do Boot Camp. We modify or change exercises to obtain the most appropriate challenge for all fitness levels. Safety is our number one priority, followed by effectiveness and fun! That said, all members are welcome to check it out. Better yet, bring a friend, so you don’t have to “feel the burn” alone!
Kristen: How big is the class, and when do you meet?
Kelly: We currently have 3-5 participants per class, which allows me to give participants more personal attention. The class meets Monday evenings at 7PM and Saturday mornings at 8:30AM for fifty minutes to an hour.
Kristen: What is the cost of the class, and how can I sign up?
Kelly: A four-week session costs $136 or $34 per class. The next session will begin the week of October 10th. Participants can register for one or two classes per week. Registration forms are at the front desk.
Kristen: So, does it really work?
Kelly: Participants have told me they feel stronger and that exercise is getting easier. Here’s one I remember, “After starting my boot camp workouts with Kelly, I feel more in shape than I have felt in a long time. In fact, I think it has made my other cardio workouts much easier.”– Vicki Custardo-Koch.
Kristen: Why do you enjoy leading Boot Camp?
Kelly: I love teaching the class mostly because I enjoy the people. I love challenging them and showing them that they can do more than they thought they could. I am so passionate about exercise, and I really like to share my knowledge with others.
Don’t miss your chance to take your workouts to a whole new level! What fitness goal are you working to accomplish this fall? Do you think Boot Camp can help you get there?
Kristen Schumacher est la directrice médias sociaux de Midtown Oak Park et une entraîneuse personnelle. Lorsqu’elle ne s’entraîne pas pour sa prochaine course de fond, elle aime cuisiner, chanter et passer du temps avec sa famille et ses amis.