Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lose the stuffing!

Since the holidays are coming up, I thought you'd want me to let you in
on a few ways to the lose the stuffing you can accumulate enjoying yourself.

The most important advice I can give you:
spend your time and money wisely.

There are several ways to do this and get the fitness results you want.

(1) Don't wait 'til it's too late.

Just like your car needs regular maintenance or it'll break down and then really cost you a bundle, so does your body. And that doesn't mean just taking your body into the shop(aka Dr. office), but taking good care of it before it breaks down. The sooner you start, the easier it'll be. Given that the weight gain that comes with getting older, the longer you wait, the more weight you'll have to work with and work off. Just do it NOW.

(2) Don't spend all day working out.

Hire a trainer who can help you make the most of every minute. Take the intensity higher and you'll see results faster. Do cardio, strength, core and flexibility training in sync in one workout period, rather than feeling you need to spend an hour on the treadmill. When you are on a cardio machine, make it count and then get off of it! Learn how to "just do it" the right way. And when your workout gets routine, change things up so you keep seeing changes in your health. In case, you're wondering which trainer can help you do these things, that would be MissFit ;-).

(3) If you see a deal, jump on it.

If you haven't trained with MissFit before, you'll love my "Pain in the Abs" Quick Start package, three 1-hour at-home or outside training sessions for only $175. This deal doesn't last much longer (you have to buy by 12/25). It's also a great gift to show a loved one how much you care about their health. Current MissFits can also take advantage of special secret holiday package savings (talk to me about it).

(4) Don't try to do it all alone.

The sheer number of weights, machines and exercises can make anyone's head spin. Before I became a trainer, I wandered the fitness floor unsure of which way to go first. And I didn't get the results I wanted. Even if you're self-motivated about exercise, you can use instruction, guidance, coaching and encouragement.
Workout with a trainer as often as you can afford and put in the rest of the time yourself.

(5) Try some team training.

A great option, especially if you're starting or resuming your fitness quest, is team training. You get the coaching and instruction of a professional, the camaraderie of others on the same journey and it's a bargain to boot. I'm looking to start up some small group training team(s) in early 2012. You don't have to have a ton to lose to reap the benefits, lose the holiday stuffing, look and feel better. The groups will train 1-3x per week, depending upon your schedule, needs and goals. The more you train, the less each session will cost. So grab your friends and do it.

(5) Enjoy yourself during the holidays without the guilt!
And let me know how I can help.

Take care (of yourself),

MissFit, aka Eve

Eve Hartman
MissFit Personal Training

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kill the Gym Zombies!

Have you seen them? Are you one of them? We must conquer them if we’re to survive...

Here’s how to spot ‘em: they trudge in, unconsciously plopping on the same cardio machines and working out at the same average pace, staring transfixed at the screens in front of them. They do the same rote weight machine routines, rarely varying from their well-trodden course. They lumber out, often disappearing after a month or two at this plodding pace. Even though they’re zombies, we miss them.

It’s no wonder zombies don’t see any difference in the way they feel and look - there’s no difference in the way they exercise day to day. They’re bored and so are their bodies and brains. The changes that can be noticed at the start of a fitness and health resolution are not happening anymore, because there’s not enough change in the workout. If you can do it easily, something really needs to change.

MissFit fights the zombies with every fitness weapon – cardio, strength, core, interval, balance and flexibility training - mixed up in varying concentrations, to give workouts a needed jolt. Change it up each workout or each week and you stimulate muscle development and brain/body connections, boost your heart rate or increase your endurance, burn more calories in a shorter time period and avoid the boredom that leads to zombie-ism.

The expertise and guidance of an experienced personal trainer like MissFit (me) is indispensable to give variety and progression to your workouts, so you see and feel progress. I can also teach you how to workout more consciously and effectively on your own.

When you kill the boredom and the zombies, you bring new life back into your body.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some Doctors’ Orders Are Bad for Your Health

Why is it, when there is an orthopedic issue – arthritis, tendonitis, possible tear, etc. – do some doctors advise patients to not do anything with the affected area (even if the problem is not serious enough to merit surgery or other treatment)? Don’t they realize that “DON’T” is virtually impossible to follow since we use our bodies every day? Worse, it can be detrimental to your health.

Those with arthritis of the knee have been told to only bike and use the elliptical in the gym, rather than walking outside for fitness (or just to let the dog do his business). A relative was counseled by her doc to avoid walking because of her back pain and so she walks in the pool, taking the car there rather than walking around the corner. Problem with both of these situations is that we have to walk outside, in gravity, or our quality of life is restricted and the condition only worsens over time.

These instances reminded me of my own experience. In 2009, I developed searing knee pain and an MRI revealed arthritis. Although I had no knee problems when I previously trained for triathlons, the doc insisted I not run. Rather than accept restrictions, I performed exercises to increase leg strength, began running slowly and gradually increased the distance (a method which can also apply to walking). Since then, my knee hasn’t been a problem; had I followed doctor’s orders I might still be suffering, plus I would not have the increased muscle strength to protect against further injury and pain.

This year, I attempted to avoid using my right shoulder due to escalating irritation, something that proved impossible since I’m right handed. Reaching for the toothbrush or putting the milk back in the fridge would lead to sharp twinges. Eventually, avoidance helped severely reduce my range of motion – I was diagnosed with frozen shoulder. Therapy, time and progressive exercise (using the TRX body weight trainer has helped much more than evasion.

They say if you don’t use it, you lose it, and they’re right.

By starting slowly and building up progressively, it’s possible to regain the right and ability to move as we please. If there are stairs in our houses, we can improve our capacity to go up and down by strengthening the entire leg (front, back & sides), thereby putting less stress on the knees. In the initial training phase, straight leg exercises can be used, so even more complex knee issues can be treated.

For the shoulder, isometric exercises will ensure that muscle is not lost due to avoiding painful motions, maintaining and increasing strength that is desperately needed to recover from an injury. For any and every body, core training helps put the emphasis on the abs, glutes and surrounding muscles, further reducing pressure on the knees, shoulders and especially the back. And please don’t forget the importance of stretching to increase range of motion, reduce back pain and muscle cramping and just make us feel better all over.

There are many other, more significant doctor’s orders we should follow. But when you gotta move, you gotta move.

For more evidence, check out this recent Jane Brody column in the NYTimes Science section:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.”

Popeye’s friend Whimpy was always promising to do something later. I wonder if he ever paid Popeye back for the burger? To me, Whimpy’s attitude reminds me of those who want to get the reward before putting in the necessary effort to get it; in other words, those who opt to be wimpy.

I say “opt” because it’s a choice, not a fait accompli. We all have free will and can make the effort. There may be obstacles in our way, but we can overcome them, or, at the very least, go around them.

It’s a tradition to make a New Year’s Resolution (though I don’t particularly believe in them). But how many of us keep those resolutions more than temporarily? These types of resolutions can often be impossible to achieve or too vague to set us on the course to reaching them, thereby setting us up for failure.

So, if we wish to be in better shape, whether it’s to look leaner and feel stronger, or just live a longer, healthier life, we have to make an effort, perhaps going out of our way or out of our comfort zone to get there.

What’s actually useful is to set smaller, specific and more achievable goals. Goals that focus on the process needed to get to the resolution-type goal. For example: to workout 3-4x a week (or more) and not postpone those efforts ‘til tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

If getting to a gym is too difficult or expensive, for under $100 total there’s some very effective exercise equipment one can use at home and store in the closet. But this equipment or your gym is effective only if you use it at frequent intervals and use it correctly.

Obviously, I recommend having a personal trainer show you what to do with that equipment or in the gym or and help you set attainable goals. Even if your budget can’t include weekly training, I’m positive it can handle bi-weekly or monthly sessions to set you up on the road to success and keep pushing you further as your initial goals are achieved.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. (Sorry to use a cliché aphorism, but it’s a good one!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reason To vs. Excuses Not To

In life, people have contrasting attitudes: those who find reasons to do things and make changes, and those who find excuses why they cannot. These behaviors apply to many aspects: willingness to try new things, tackle one's fears, travel to new places, change habits that can be detrimental, even take care of one's health (you knew I'd get around to that one).

As we age, our fitness declines unless we do something about it. So you can either sit around listing excuses why you can’t get off your butt or you can do something.

“I can’t do that,” “My shoulder/knee/back hurts, “ “I don’t like to workout,” “I don’t have time,” “I’m too weak,” “I’ve got better things to do,” “That makes my heart beat fast,” “I don’t like to sweat,” “I’ve got arthritis/high blood pressure/ insert condition here.’’

“My reunion/son’s Bar Mitzvah/best friend’s wedding is coming up,” “Doc said do something quick,” “Tired of gaining weight each year,” “Run a 5K,” “Garden without hurting my back,” “Keep up with my grandkids,” “Fit in my skinny jeans again,” “I’ve got arthritis/high cholesterol/insert condition here.”

Every one of us makes excuses. I’m no exception. I once believed I couldn’t ride a bike because I had bad balance or run because my knee would hurt. I thought I wasn’t athletic because I couldn’t throw or catch a ball. But time and age can put things in perspective.

In order to save my sanity while working at my first job in NYC, I discovered swimming at the Y around the corner (much cheaper than psychotherapy). Years later, I got postcards encouraging fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in exchange for training to complete a triathlon or ride a bike century. To celebrate my mother-in-law’s 5 years cancer-free from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I raced in her honor. Suddenly I had REASONS TO rather than EXCUSES NOT TO.

To this day, my reasons to train to improve my strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic endurance are so I can ride my bike and swim in the lake. Not, as some people believe, because I “love working out.”

Everyone’s got good reasons. What are yours? Please share them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oops - Link not linking

To donate to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Brain Tumor Center, try this link:

Setting Goals and Getting There

People often comment that, as a trainer, I must love working out for its own sake. While that may be true as far as riding my bike outside, it’s definitely not the case with running or working out inside the gym. Even trainers need a kick in the butt. To get myself back on track after brain surgery, I set a goal of running the More half-marathon on April 25. That looming date has helped motivate me to run longer and longer distances (even though I don’t enjoy running), and luckily I have some friends on Team MissFit who are making this journey with me. In addition to improving our fitness, we’re doing it to raise money for brain tumor research at Sloan-Kettering, which also adds plenty of inspiration. To make a donation (no amount is too small), go to

It’s not the workout, but what it can do for you, that provides incentive to get and keep you working. To insure this is happening, I recommend you set a personally-motivating goal and do what it takes to get there. It’s best that the goal is more than a number on the scale. There’s much more to fitness and health than weight. In fact, many higher-than-average-weight people are in better condition than their thin counterparts. Ultimately, as we age and live longer, health and physical fitness become even more important than a number.

What should your goal be? It’s different for everyone. One client who recently started training wants to look better and fit into her dress for her son’s bar mitzvah. She’s on her way. Another would like to play better tennis without getting injured, so she’s developing her flexibility and endurance to do so. Other players have told me they’re in awe of how powerfully she hits the ball.

I met one client while swimming in the pool who first hired me to give him swim technique instruction and eventually started core and body-weight training to improve his strength in and out of the water. I encouraged him to sign up for an open water swim in the Hudson, offering to swim with him since he was fearful of his first outside distance swim. We trained in the Hudson close to home and then went to NYC, where he proceeded to kick my butt in the water (which I knew he would).

There are, admittedly, scores of people whose goal is to lose weight. But a good trainer can help you find more than just that reason to work hard. One client lost then gained weight many times in his life without keeping it off, so this time it was my job to not let him self-sabotage. I tried to keep him off the Doritos, but as I wasn’t with him 24-7. Thus, his workouts needed to be challenging. I could tell he became more motivated the more difficult the exercise, and I often related movements to outdoor sports he enjoyed, such as kayaking and skiing. He mastered the “circus trick” and some Bode Miller-like balancing work. Once, after kayaking around lower Manhattan, he remarked that he could really feel that our core training had made a difference. If he’d miss a few weeks because of vacation or work, he’d feel the difference, and then work harder to get back up to speed.

The goals you set need not be gargantuan, as these examples from real life attest. Fitting into a bathing suit or having plenty of energy to keep up with the grandkids are goals exercising can help you achieve. A 5K run or a 10K walk are just as valid as running a marathon. Don’t just set it and forget it. Do what it takes to get it. And you will most likely lose weight and inches as you’re doing it. If you think you can, you can.