Tag Archives: strength training

Accelerated Fitness – Cromwell

I briefly mentioned in my last post that over the weekend I took my first trip to Accelerated Fitness, at the Cromwell location (also located in Glastonbury and Tolland). My friend Maria brought me as her guest to join a session with one of Cromwell’s two personal trainers, Kevin Carlson (or as she calls him…Oh Sadistic One). This place is more than a gym; the primary line of business is personal training and programs tailored to each client’s fitness history and goals. Maria has her own program, but on Saturday when I was her guest, Kevin just decided to have some “fun” with us.

Kevin’s sick idea of fun!

I hadn’t been to a personal trainer in awhile so i was very excited! The setup was very Crossfit-box-like…plenty of toys of fitness torture were set up along the walls with an open space in the middle. The session lasted about 50 minutes and consisted of various circuits of 2-3 moves each, the whole circuit repeated three times. Here are some examples of moves Kevin had Maria and I doing:

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Another Sprigs Review and Giveaway: Banjees!

I recently (as in last week!) posted a review and giveaway for Earbags, AKA bandless earmuffs, by Sprigs. This company creates original, often fitness-focused products based on currently unfulfilled needs. That fact was demonstrated to me clearly when I received another of their products to test out and review, the Big Banjees Wrist Wallet.

I have seriously been looking for an effective arm iPhone holder to use at the gym for a few years now. I have tried adjustable arm bands before, but they simply never stay in place, even at their tightest adjustment. The Banjees running wallet interested me because of the availability of a design big enough to hold an iPhone that is still in its case. Other running wallets I’ve tried that claim to fit an iPhone have not fit the phone with the case still on. Taking the case on and off is, though minor, an inconvenience. Sprigs promised me the Big model of Banjees would indeed meet my need for a running wallet that would hold my iPhone, case in all, and stay in place.

Just like Earbags, Banjees come in a variety of designs and fabrics. Of course I had to choose a print! Also available are reversible, fleece, organic cotton, and recyclable versions!

Oh you fancy huh?

I’ve never been shy about the fact that I don’t really like running, so you guys might be confused as to why I’ve been in the market for an effective running wallet. Well, you don’t’ have to be running to use one! I actually wanted to try the Banjees because tucking my iPhone into my waistband or sports bra while lifting weights to music (gotta have the music factor) has been super annoying. What better way to test out the Banjees than by using it during one of my fave fitness activities – arm day!

Taking a photo with a phone of a product that is holding your phone is quite difficult!

The verdict is two dumbbells up for the Big Banjees Wrist Wallet! After I took the above photo, I ended up sliding it all the way up to my bicep; this is where I’ve been wearing it since. I honestly use it every time I strength train now. The Banjees doesn’t budge from its perch on my arm and the wallet portion is the perfect size for my phone in my case. I wiggle it into the slot and it stays firmly secure there until I take it out.

The only annoying part of using it is having to take it out of the slot to change the song/check my phone/adjust volume/etc. #fitnessproblems – certainly not a dealbreaker and I’d rather have a convenient place to hold my strength training music than keep putting my phone in my waistband or sports bra. Though the latter place leaves it more easily accessible for music adjustments, it means more to me to have a way to get the iPhone out of my way so that it doesn’t interfere with my weights sessions.

This is where I wear the Banjees  on my arm when I lift weights – you’re looking at a satisfied blogger!

Promo Code

Just like with Earbags, Sprigs is offering Cait Plus Ate readers a promo code to use when purchasing Banjees! The code is “CaitBanjees” and will get you 10% off a purchase up to $29.99 or 20% off a purchase $30 and up. The code expires 12/31/12 – perfect for Christmas shopping for others OR yourself 😉 – and the Earbags promo code is good until 12/17/12 too!


Sprigs is doing another giveaway for you guys – one lucky Cait Plus Ate reader will win a Banjees of his or her choice! Ways to enter are similar to the Earbags giveaway, and the entries close at 11:59PM EST this Thursday 11:59PM. Continental US only please! Leave a separate comment for each form of entry or multiple entries won’t count!

  1. Check out the Banjees selection on Sprigs.com and comment on this post telling me which Banjees you’d want most! (mandatory)
  2. Follow @CaitPlusAte on Twitter and comment here saying you did.
  3. Follow @Sprigsville on Twitter and comment here saying you did.
  4. Tweet “I entered to win a @Sprigsville Banjees running wallet from @CaitPlusAte! #fitfluential #fitgear http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1HN” and comment here with the link to the tweet.

General Giveaway Rules: No Purchase Necessary. This giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States. The email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and will never be given out to anyone nor sold. The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted via email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. Please make sure you check your junk mail folder.

I received a complimentary Big Banjees Wrist Wallet from Sprigs for this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

4th of July and Foodie Photos

You still have time to enter the giveaway for two lawn seats to Hartford Symphony Orchestra‘s outdoor summer concert series! Hurry hurry!

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July! I was so bummed when I woke up and heard rain pattering on my window, but a quick check of the weather reassured me that it would be movin’ on out soon. I hopped out of bed and hit the gym for 30 minutes of high-intensity speed intervals on the StepMill, followed by a good upper-body lifting session. I have really seen increases in my strength in all areas of my upper-body, which has been awesome and a great reward to receive after the more consistent lifting I have been doing! I’m having so much fun both during and after lifting weights because I feel like a rock-star the entire time. I have no shame in making some pretty ugly weight-lifting faces too as I struggle to complete that last curl or shoulder press. That means I’m challenging myself!

I then proceeded to spend 10am to 8pm at my usual summer hot-spot, Pinebrook. It was AMAZING. I drank Whole Foods iced coffee, spent girl time with Kim, read Elle (surprisingly great selection of articles that go beyond fashion, by the way), and took occasional dips to cool off. Around the late afternoon the Florida crew as well as my usual pals showed up and we had a fantastic evening of food and wine.

I was definitely struggling with feeling guilty both during and after the event, though. I doubled up on dessert (how could I not have both my mom’s famous banana pudding, a healthified recipe too, and red velvet cake?!) and did a lot of munching on various dips and chips/crackers. Sometimes it feels like all these “indulgent days” are piling up and happening ALL the time! To de-stress when I got home, I listened to my beloved NPR and colored with Sharpies in a coloring book that I like to keep on hand for these exact occasions. It really helps to relax me and quiet my mind! And I had an amazing time – that’s the bottom line.

I don’t really feel like writing much more, so I’m just going to leave you with a few photos from a wine dinner I attended awhile back at CW’s Chops n Catch. Their next event is this coming Monday, so let’s just call these anticipatory photos!

Deviled eggs served on their classic wooden Manchester map cutting board.

Estancia Chardonnay – a favorite brand of Jenny’s!

Parmesan-crusted local asparagus, Stonington sea scallops, shaved Cato Corner (of Colchester, CT) Vivace

Always-amazing garlic knot.

Roasted chicken pho, poached eggs, udon noodles, scallion, mint.

Pho garnishes.

With the main course – crispy sliced duck breast; apple, sweet potato, duck bacon hash; brown sugar mostrada.

Georgia peach cobbler! With Royal vanilla bean ice cream, streusel topping, and almond tuile. Served with Prosecco.

What’d you do for the 4th? Eat anything amazing? Any great workouts?

Which of the plates showcased above looks best to you?

Soy Protein…Soy What?

Soy – good or bad? Right or wrong? Yes or no? Soy is one of those seemingly eternally-debated foods that seem to be bad for you one second, and great for you the next. And so goes the never-ending phenomenon of the media latching onto every scientific study that’s released, blowing up the results (positive or negative), and reporting their skewed version of them. Help for the curious consumer to interpret studies’ findings and make a rational, informed decision about what he or she is going to consume is not often included.

So what I’m here to do today is talk about the findings of a study that found soy has benefits. But I’m not here to blow those positive findings into a, “Soy is your savior!” kind of blog post. I’m just here to share the benefits of a food I consume weekly, and some tips for easy ways to incorporate soy into your diet.

Dr. Blake Rasmussen’s clinical study, “Effect of Protein Blend vs. Whey Protein Ingestion on Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise”, peaked my interest because not only am I constantly making an effort to incorporate resistance exercise (strength training) into my fitness routine several times a week, but I am always hearing differing opinions on what form of protein is the “best” to consume post-lifting for maximum muscle repair and growth. It turns out the answer isn’t one protein – it’s several!

Between sets!

The double-blind, randomized clinical trial examined 19 young adults and split them into two groups. All members of the study performed a high-intensity leg workout and consumed some form of protein an hour later. One group of 10 consumed 19 grams of a protein blend (25% soy, 25% whey, 50% casein), and the second group of 9 consumed 17.5 grams of just whey protein. Before and after both the leg workout and protein consumption, scientists took measurements which gave them an idea of the degree of muscle protein synthesis occurring in each subject.

Different types of tofu!

It was found that the first group (consumers of the protein blend) was still showing signs of muscle protein synthesis up to five hours after doing the leg workout! Quick subtraction reveals that to be four hours after consuming the protein blend. Imagine getting your protein on post-iron-pumping, heading out to run your errands, and continuing to build muscle as you stand in line a few hours later at the grocery store. Talk about multi-tasking! Dr. Rasmussen posits that the answer to the question of why these results occurred lies in the rates at which the body digests casein, whey, and soy. Casein is a “slow protein”, whey is “fast”, and soy lies somewhere in the middle. The more complicated a protein blend you throw at your body, the more work it will have to do to get those amino acids and deliver them to your muscles, prolonging the length of time muscle protein synthesis occurs.

Dipping sauce makes EVERYTHING better!

So much for needing meat to build muscle! I myself know plenty of vegetarians and vegans who have seen impressive gains from strength training as a result of consuming soy-based proteins. Just like meats, it is a complete source of protein containing both non-essential amino acids and the essential ones that the body cannot make on its own. How to consume it, you ask? Here are some recipes I’ve scouted-out from some of my favorite bloggers that incorporate ingredients containing soy:

Cooking isn’t a requirement, though. You can also use soy creamer or milk in your coffee or tea, have soy yogurt as a snack, or keep soy jerky (a recent find of mine) nearby for a fast protein fix. Even if you’re not into strength training (cough – it’s nothing but good for you – cough), soy still provides plenty of other benefits. It gets a bad rep for the hormones it’s said to contain, but soy doesn’t actually contain estrogen, which you may hear can feminize men and impair fertility. It contains isoflavones, a form of “plant” estrogen, and studies have not shown feminization or impaired fertility in men who consume them. Soy has even been shown to have benefits for kids, such as being an attractive alternative for those allergic to other forms of protein (milk, eggs, peanuts, etc) and possibly increasing chances of having a lower BMI later in life.

A soy snack!

So before you knock soy down, if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d suggest heading to your nearest grocery store and getting yourself a few different products to taste-test. You may find love for a new food! And it’ll love you right back 😀

Fitfluential, LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Beer Tasting – Yes, This is Still Caitlin

I’m having a great day so far! I woke up at 5:30am for no reason, feeling ready to go, so I had time to hit the gym for a workout, something I often don’t get a chance to do on Thursdays since I have class after work (and refuse to get up at 5:30am to work out unless it happens on its own). Did not bother to put in my contacts, though.

Rocking my ALA Stair Climb shirt for a stair-climbing workout of course!

I did 20 minutes of HIIT on the StepMill and the following bicep and tricep workout from Heather. Ended with some oblique #PlankADay, of course!

Heather continued to make my day by notifying me that I won her Naturebox giveaway! They send out a monthly box of new snacks – it’s like Birchbox for food! I don’t know how I didn’t know about it. I can’t wait to get my box of snacks and share my thoughts with you all 🙂

I also enjoyed about 15 minutes of sun time before clouds rolled in during my lunch break (I’ll take what I can get) with a new book that is super-weird, but also super-interesting. Has anyone read it?

The coffee is a new flavor from a local cafe, Almond Joy! Another day-brightener.

Let’s move on to the surprising part of this post – I hosted a beer tasting at my house during our Easter party. Yes, me, as in I, as in Caitlin. Just had to clarify that. I’m not shy about the fact that I’m not a big fan of beer. I know many of my readers, particularly the runners, feel differently. I find that so many runners I meet just love their beer! My mom is no exception. But I’m also an adventurarian, so I went to the best possible source for beer advice and suggestions, Elliot of Sonoma Wines & Spirits.

He helped me pick out the above selection of seven different beers (at Sonoma, if you buy six you get 10% off!) – the Sierra Nevada holder (is there a proper name for those?) is just what they had on hand. I was “sitting on them” for about a month, and decided the Easter party was the perfect time to do a tasting because plenty of people could join in! I wanted to try them all at once but needed enough other people around to help me finish them.

The beer tasters (well, not all of these youngsters had beer).

We all tried different beers at different times, I didn’t bother trying to keep any “order” to it. My sister was kind enough to pick up a bunch of cups at the store the day of the party.

I’d already heard of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but since I’m so carbonation-averse, I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it. It was better than I thought it’d be though. I can see myself getting used to it. My friend Stacy’s dad LOVES this beer – he wasn’t even gonna participate in the tasting until he saw this was involved. Then his eyes got very wide and he asked for a cup!

This Smuttynose Robust Porter was more my style for sure! Less carbonated, though not TOO heavy. Think of it as a lighter Guinness. I was one of the few who enjoyed it, probably because I’m one of the few who doesn’t care for carbonation – or most beers in the first place.

The Konig Ludwig Weissbier was a crowd favorite! Seriously, no one disliked it. I think everyone was doubly impressed as well because no one had ever heard of it before. I’d call it a nice middle-ground beer. Just a medium body, not too hoppy, not too heavy either.

Elliot referred to the New England Brewing Co. Elm City Lager as a much-classier “college beer”. What those New England preppy frat boys drink, ya know? Too light and hoppy and Bud Light-like for me – and many who tasted it. Though it was thought of as a good beer for a boat ride on a hot day. Of course, I don’t know when my next boat ride on a hot day will be. I wish I did! Anyone know?

A lot of those who sampled the Boddington’s Pub Ale had already heard of and/or tried it, so it was not received as warmly as some of the other selections. More of a “meh, this is fine”.

The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA was definitely the hoppiest – and rarest – of the beers in this tasting. However, I think I can definitely appreciate its high quality because despite the fact that it was very hoppy and, as Andrea called it, “intense”, I enjoyed it more than the other pale ale I tried from Sierra Nevada. You’d think I’d go for less bubbles, but this beer was just quite cool! Who knows, maybe its “rare-ness” went to my head, but I don’t think so!

I saved the one I was most excited to try, and knew I’d like the most, for last in this discussion. The first beer I asked Elliot to recommend to me was the best chocolate beer he knew of, and this was the one he mentioned without a second’s hesitation – Southern Tier Imperial Chocklat Stout (FYI I next wanna do a tasting with ALL the beers on that page – YUM). It was so good!!! I even had half a cup with my chocolate cake for dessert. I was one of the few who liked this beer. All the other tasters were fairly regular to very seasoned beer drinkers and since this tasted least like beer, they liked it the least. More for me?! What’s also cool is that you don’t have to worry about finishing this guy in one sitting (it’s a bigger bottle) because it actually keeps pretty well in the fridge for a few days after opening if you stop it up with a wine cork!

Nice, Mollie.

Thanks to my beer tasting companions – and observers – for joining me on my quest to become more adventurous with my alcohol! Because that’s SUCH a necessity, right? 😉

Are you a beer drinker? Have you ever tried any of these beers, and/or attended a beer tasting?

How I Spent My 23rd Birthday!

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday! I ended up having a great day (so great that I didn’t have time to blog :-P) and want to thank all of you that wished me happy birthday on Twitter and/or Facebook! So how did I spend my special day? Haven’t had time to upload cam pics yet, but I was tweeting a play-by-play of life, as per usual.

The day got off to a great start when I woke up to this. I love my mom!

My co-workers continued to make the day fabulous. My friend Steve got me these gorgeous tulips. The bow matches my St. Patty’s Day nails!

The fellow ladies of our sales row (of cubicles, ha) know me well. They gave me a bottle of local CT red wine from Sharpe Hill Vineyards! I haven’t had their wine yet and am super excited to try it.

Holy moly, look at this gem! It’s from Jim, a co-worker who has access to a pretty awesome bakery (he got another co-worker an equally awesome cupcake for her birthday last month). That chocolate-cake looking part is actually ALL icing. I am an icing freak. So let’s just say I’m gonna enjoy this. Saving it for tonight after dinner maybe!

I’m a lucky girl!

My boss was kind enough to give me a half day on my birthday, and good thing, because it was about 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky yesterday. Is this the new CT March? I’ll TAKE IT!

Obsessed with Vera towels.

No, this is not a summer ’11 photo, this is YESTERDAY. Amazing! I chilled with my best friend Lidia as we drank iced beverages (coffee for me, green tea for her), read magazines/books, and chatted. She was also kind enough to use my Goodreads to-read list to pick out a couple of new books for me as a gift – it used to be we were gifting each other off our Forever 21 wish lists, and now it’s Goodreads! Oh, how adult we are!

Now I can see what all that hype is about!

A classic that I’ve been curious about.

Call me weird, but I wanted to go to the gym despite the fact that it was my birthday. I completed 4.08 miles on the StepMill, Level 16, speed intervals AKA some kick-butt HIIT. Felt FABULOUS after! Read the issue of SHAPE with Kate Walsh on the cover. She is one amazing lady.

I wrapped things up with the below workout created by the amazing Heather of For the Love of Kale (who gave me a birthday shoutout yesterday, THANKS LOVE). I’m not doing any upper body today so wanted to get some in yesterday. Quick and effective!

After showering my sweaty self off, I went to meet my friend Colin (of Taste of New Haven) at Mustard Seed Cafe, a cute local breakfast-and-lunch place, for a French Wine Tasting Class event put on by my favorite liquor store EVER, Sonoma Wines & Spirits. Apps were served to start and I put together a little tasting plate, but kept it light because I wanted to go out to a late dinner afterward.

Went back for seconds on the veg (obviously).

For a wine lover like myself, this was definitely an informative event, in terms of both tasting wine and its origins. I have to admit I found myself drifting a bit during the historical parts of the presentation, but I think that was because I was so excited to get-to-sippin…

Flight #1 (three total).

The most fascinating part for me was learning how to both properly smell and taste wine. Did you know that you’re supposed to cover the glass with your hand, swirl the wine around, and then just take a slight sniff from under your hand when smelling a wine? The whole swirl and stick my nose in the glass thing that I’ve had going on is NOT correct. Too bad I put on hand lotion right before the event!

The proper method of tasting wine is really cool and made a HUGE difference. I’m having no luck finding a video or series of photos on Google (I know, what?) demonstrating the method, but it involves taking a sip, tilting your head forward and letting the wine rest in the front of your “palate”, and then tilting your head back (it reminded me of taking a shot…) and letting the wine slide over the middle and back parts of your tongue before swallowing (or spitting, something I am not fond of, and I know, that’s what she said). The taste was SO much more intense. I kinda loved it.

My favorite flight obviously – three reds, how can you go wrong?

I had a few favorites, which I marked with stars on our info/ordering sheets, and ended up decided to purchase the Chateau Picque Caillou Graves Pessac-Leognan. I know – what?? Just know that it tasted sooo oak-y and fabulous. I also received a $25 credit with my admission, and the bottle was $30.59. How often do I have a chance to buy a $30 bottle of wine for $5?! Answer: never, so I leapt at it. I’m going to save this bottle for something very special!

After the tasting wrapped up, Colin and I headed out to get some FOOD. It was almost 9pm, so we hit up the late night happy hour at Max Fish! I love going to these kinds of happy hours at nice restaurants because I get the chance to order and sample food that would normally be out of my price range.

Recycled image from my last visit but obviously I had to get the cheese plate again.

Colin offers a useful hand-size comparison for this ahi tuna with jasmine rice and lemongrass sauce.

Frozen not fresh (as our waitress honestly told us when we asked), but still so good.

Does anyone else dip fries into their ice cream and/or milkshakes? Colin thought I was a weirdo for that one!

I’m asking about ice cream because Colin not-so-secretly (I noticed immediately…) approached our waitress and asked her to send over a birthday dessert for me. I was still surprised because I had no clue what it’d be! I wish this picture hadn’t come out so blurry:


SO DELICIOUS. I realized it had been too long since I last had ice cream. And it had been way WAY too long since I’d made that an ice cream SUNDAE. The caramelized bananas and slightly-salty nuts on that whipped cream made it extra special.

Fabulous, fabulous birthday. And it doesn’t stop there – off to J. Gilbert’s with my family tonight!

How did you celebrate your last birthday? Do you have any go-to traditions?

Wednesday’s Workout and Whole Foods Goodies

Yesterday my first guest blogger feature was published on LoziLu Mud Run’s website! Check it out for some easy, tasty ideas for a girl’s night in. You can also explore the rest of their site to find a Mud Run near you – I hope to attend the Boston run on 7/7/12 and would LOVE to make a blogger meet-up out of it!

Good morning friends, and happy Thursday. We are ALMOST to Friday which means I am ALMOST hopping on a plane to Orlando (Saturday afternoon is when we depart) with my mom to reunite with my wonderful grandparents, who I haven’t seen since December, and my dad, who has been on travel abroad for the last couple of weeks (and I miss him like crazy).

Yesterday became a very busy day at work and I got out late, so I was ten minutes late to spin class, but it was all good because one of my favorite instructors was teaching. Not only did she step her game up with her music this week (the last few weeks on Wednesdays it’s been like spinning to the Guitar Hero soundtrack…this time there was some fun mixed in like Carrie’s “Cowboy Casanova”) but she also put us through a REALLY tough workout that involved a three-song hill – OUCH, my quads! The 50-minute cardio session left me feeling sweaty and awesome, so I decided to keep the vibe going and head to the weight room for a quick upper body workout session.

I really like to make my upper-body weight lifting similar to a Group Power (like Body Pump) class. I’m not a big fan of lifting heavy weights and then resting in between sets – though I know this is good for building strength! Usually when I do that, I try to do abs in between while my upper body is resting. My favorite way to lift upper body though, is to treat it like my own individual Group Power class and do varying moves back-to-back of one muscle group during an entire song. Then for the next song, I switch it up to another muscle group. By the end of the song, my muscles are always burning and shaking! Last night I rocked Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“, one of my favorite albums of all time, for some shoulders, abs, and biceps. I did them in that order because my arms DEFINITELY needed a rest after doing shoulders before I could move on to biceps. I forgot how LONG those Kanye songs are!

Grilled chicken/turkey burger with spicy yellow mustard, black beans, baked potato with pico de gallo.

I came home and refueled with the amazing dinner above. I also had the inside of the potato, but it’s in a bowl off to the side, and looks pretty bland in photos anyway! The black beans were from Moe’s and I could’ve eaten an entire pot of them – I just love black beans so much. I’m grateful to be living at home with a mother who is always up for making me healthy, delicious meals!

I’m going out to eat tonight to my favorite restaurant, J. Gilbert’s, to use a $20-off coupon I got back in December. It expires while we’re away next week so it must be used! Joe and my wonderful Nana Connie (she arrives today to take care of my brother while we are gone in FL – I’m so glad she is coming!) are going to join my mom, brother, and I for dinner. I also plan to order one of their wine flights – I have never tried theirs and will definitely be craving some vino with my meal!

Joe and I at dinner this past Saturday night at Grant's in West Hartford.

I’m going to end today’s post with some random photos that I took during my December Florida vacation at the Palm Beach Gardens Whole Foods salad/hot bars. I never got a chance to share them and I love seeing what Whole Foods locations across the country have at their food bars –  does this make me a nerd? No, I think it just makes me a foodie 🙂 Enjoy!

LOVE the colors in this photo.

DOLMADES! Was so excited when I saw these.

FL Whole Foods locations always offer some kind of great seafood salad like the shrimp salad above!

The colorful lettuce-less Greek salad in the middle was so good, but the onions were STRONG!

Plantains make my heart happy!

Have you ever noticed differences in Whole Foods location offerings across the country? Any of the items above look familiar from your local Whole Foods – OR completely foreign?

What’s your favorite way to lift upper body weights?

Anyone else have exciting Thursday dinner plans?


Workout Wednesday

Sorry, no food on today’s post, seeing as it’s Wednesday and workout starts with a W, I thought I’d put a fun little alliteration together and do a post on my favorite workouts. I almost always get my activity in the form of a group fitness class. I think they’re a great way to increase motivation (I always want to work harder than my neighbor) and challenge myself, as well as learn new plyometric and weight training moves for specific body parts.

I live in workout clothes so I can eat entire snack tables.

I try to switch up the classes I take to keep my body guessing and my mind interested in working out. I’ll go through phases, but try to go with the flow, because if I force myself to do a class just because I feel like I should be doing that type of class instead of another, I’ll just grow to hate the gym. For example I was the queen of spin as a junior, but haven’t really done any spinning at all in a little over a year and am fine with that, because I  just got sick of it and still haven’t wanted to get back to it. And if I do want to someday, I definitely will head back to spin class.

Let's get physical?

My gym uses a lot of classes by Body Training Systems, which is very similar to Les Mills for you bloggers that haven’t heard of them. A lot of the classes are virtually the same and offer a great workout with a nice variety. I do know of one blogger that I have been following for quite awhile, Heather, who teaches BTS classes. Any others out there who are certified to teach a BTS class?

Group Power: I did this one on Monday. This has the exact same set-up as Body Pump – a song for each muscle group, with weight-lifting moves choreographed to the music, using a bar and plates. I always leave Power feeling so strong and accomplished! In fact, my hamstrings are still sore right now, just two days later. No matter how much I try, I never seem to get as good of a strength training workout on my own as I do with this class. I love feelin the burn!

The songs in Power go like this:

  1. Warm-Up
  2. Legs (usually all squats with the bar)
  3. Chest (some combo of presses, flies, and push-ups)
  4. Back/Legs (some combo of dead-lifts, dead-rows, clean-and-presses, and sometimes flies)
  5. Triceps (some combo of tri push-ups, kickbacks, overhead extensions, and presses)
  6. Biceps (curls, occasionally a bicep row is  thrown in there)
  7. Legs (some combo of different types of lunges, and sometimes sumo squats)
  8. Shoulders (some combo of split raises, presses, upright rows, rear delt t’s, arnold presses, and more)
  9. Abs (lots of different possibilities here)
  10. Strech

So as you can see there are plenty of varying exercises to keep your body guessing and keep your interest peaked!

Group Step: Think your traditional step classes, but each song has its own focus, and is choreographed. So if I keep going to Step each week, I get better and better at the routine and can put more into it each time. I love dancing and this kind of reminds me of that!

Just like Power, the order of the song focuses does not change, but the songs in each release do along with the steps!

  1. Step Start (warm-up)
  2. Step Ahead (cardio-focused)
  3. Step Up (cardio-focused, usually involving lots of knee lifts)
  4. Step Strong (leg workout, squats and lunges)
  5. Step Energy (top speed)
  6. Step Agility (balance worked in somehow, usually involves running and high knees)
  7. Step Motion (lowers heart rate before the finale, often involves dance-like moves like mambo, cha-cha, etc)
  8. Step Attack (peak heart rate, think a combo of Step Strong and Step Energy)
  9. Step Symmetry (abs and/or push-ups)
  10. Step Down (stretch)

Group Groove: For all you Zumba fans out there, you’d really enjoy this class! This is purely a dance class, but it’s a great workout all the same – in fact, I’m attending tonight! Just like Step, it gets really fun once you’ve gone enough times and have the routine down pat because then you can put more effort into getting really into the moves and getting the best workout possible. Some of the moves are cheesy (the last release did involve a moment or two of air guitar…) but it’s easy to sub-in your own momentary move if you feel too silly (for example, I do dynamic lunges during the air guitar portion).

Groove songs go a little something like this:

  1. Warm Up
  2. First Dance (just to get you into the dance mode, a fairly easy routine)
  3. Party Dance (usually a Latin song, involving lots of cha-cha-cha)
  4. Cardio 1
  5. Low Dance (legs focused, most of dance done in low-stance, usually something urban)
  6. Cardio 2
  7. Break Dance (get heart rate down before peak, slower, often ethnic in some way)
  8. Peak Dance (two-song mash-up, learn the moves in first song and go all out with them in second, peak HR)
  9. Last Dance (cool-down)

Group Kick: This class is what I like to call a kickboxing-dance hybrid. I would throw the dance thing in there because it is choreographed. Instead of punching and kicking bags you are punching air, but you can still get a great workout in. Kick typically involves lots of jumping and fast-feet. I always forget how much it works your shoulders – mine are usually surprisingly sore the day after! There are little cardio drills spaced throughout, at the end of random songs, that can really kick your butt and put a nice interval spin on the workout.

I don’t get to go to Kick nearly as much as I’d like to anymore because the classes are either on nights I have school or are too late in the day on weekends for me (I like my 8am and 9am classes on Saturdays/Sundays). But whenever I do I am always surprised at how sore my shoulders and legs are the next day!

Pre-gaming the gym with Jif.

Unfortunately my gym doesn’t offer any other BTS classes, but there are plenty of other things I like to do there:

  • Interval Training: This class kicks my butt every time – it’s 3 minutes of intervals alternating with 3 minutes of weights. Each weight interval is a different body group. So much is changing that you don’t get bored with any one move!
  • Yoga: I haven’t gotten to a gym yoga class in awhile but when I’m stuck at home with no other workout alternative (hello snow days), I really like the P90X Yoga DVD. I am covered in sweat by the end and though 90 minutes seems long, the hardest portions of the workout are split up by nice stretching moves.
  • Pilates: Ditto on not getting to pilates in awhile, but it’s a great ab workout and also surprisingly hard on the legs. Don’t shun pilates or yoga until you try them – they are tough! I was in a pilates and yoga phase my senior year, I did each about twice a week, and loved how flexible and lean I felt.
  • Elliptical: Not a class, but when all else fails and there is no class for me to take but I want to work out, I hop on the elliptical, alternate the resistance from normal to super high, and read a magazine. Sometimes this is just all I’m in the mood for, AKA I’m not in the mood for an intense class but want to get moving, and it works for me!
What workouts do you like to do? Was there anything you tried and surprisingly loved (or hated)?

Thank you to Body Training Systems for the images in this post. I was not given any incentive to write about their programs, I just did so because I love them!