Fitness Facts

Why You Should Focus on Changing Shape, Not Size

By Trainer Andrew Leidal

Changing Shape, Not Size - The P.E. Club Extra Credit Blog, by Trainer Andrew Leidal

There’s a common misconception out there that to get the body you want, you have to become ever and ever smaller.  Do cardio to burn off that tummy fat!  Don’t eat those carbs or you’ll blow up!  Spin five times a week and you’ll have that perfect summer bod!

Any of these sound familiar?  They probably all do - and while there is some truth behind them (even though carbs don’t make you suddenly fat) - there is a lot of misinformation and emphasis place around restriction.  Skinny, skinny, skinny.  That’s become a new ideal.  But what if you don’t just want to be skinny?  What if you want toned abs, a nice butt, shapely legs, broad shoulders, muscular arms, a rippling back, or any combination of the above?  Attacking the cardio machines and avoiding carbs like they’re your worst enemies every day isn’t going to help you see those results. 

Side note: Don’t get me wrong - cardio and diet are vitally important to anyone’s workout routine.  Don’t ever neglect them.  But I’m here to talk about how you can change your SHAPE, not just your SIZE.

There are a few basic concepts we need to cover here first so that I can make myself understood.  The first is the difference between shape and size, which might seem obvious to some of you, but I’m going to cover that briefly anyway.  As stated above, there seems to be a general emphasis in the fitness industry on your size - meaning that men and women both should ever be getting either smaller, or bigger. 

Women...there is a huge amount of pressure for you to be as tiny as possible; to have the flattest stomach, the leanest legs, the ever-present thigh gap. 

Men...your chest can never be too big, your shoulders too broad, nor your arms too ripped. 

Right?  These cues are based around one thing - size.  Be bigger.  Be smaller.  Not all of us are going to be big or small, though.  Most of us are big in some places and small in others, comparatively speaking.  Most of us are perfectly happy with certain parts of ourselves while disliking others.  Well guess what - strength training can allow you to target specific areas of your body to help even you out proportionately. 

Want broader shoulders that are pulled back, not rounded forward?  Strengthen your back and shoulders to bring those things up and back.  Want a firmer butt?  Train your glutes to be strong to counteract all of that sitting that you do.  Train your core to help tighten your waist, which will only help to accentuate those curves that you’re working hard for (this is for men and women both - guys, women like nice butts too!).  Building muscle can help you to make adjustments to that “body that you’re born with” in ways that destroying yourself on the treadmill or bicycle six days a week can’t.  The idea is to grow, not to shrink.

Changing Shape, Not Size - The P.E. Club Extra Credit Blog - By Trainer Andrew Leidal

The second concept that I want to cover here is that of spot treatment.  We are told by sources that you can trim off that belly fat just by wrapping yourself in plastic, or that you can take away that pesky skin around your armpits by lifting two pound weights all day.  This is wrong.  Now, this may seem paradoxical to what I just told you in the previous paragraph, so let me go into more detail on this:

  • Muscle and body fat are two very different things that - although are inextricably linked - are targeted in very different ways.  Your body fat percentage, or BFP, is the primary factor behind looking either “soft” or “lean”.  This is a measure of the overall percentage of your bodyweight that is strictly fat and, despite what sources tell you, is nearly impossible to reduce one spot at a time. 
  • Body fat distributes itself relatively evenly across your body.  While there ARE certain areas where it will tend to sit more heavily on you than someone else, it does a pretty good job of making it all the way around your person.  So as you watch your diet, introduce more cardio into your system, and build muscle, your BFP will drop evenly across your entire body.  Sorry guys, can’t get rid of that tummy fat without getting rid of fat period.  This might be discouraging to some, but I would argue that you should feel ENcouraged by it, because your body is smart and will look better as a whole! 
  • With that said, there are certain areas where vestiges of fat will stubbornly remain after all else is gone.  Don’t stress - keep working hard.  Nobody said that this was easy.

You are stuck with the body that you were born with only to a certain degree. Strength training won't allow you to make the bones in your shoulder or hips smaller, but tightening your core with regular ab, oblique, and lower back work will make either of them look much more proportionate. Not everyone is born with a nice butt - but anyone can build one with hard work. You don't have to accept the fact that you can only get bigger or smaller, because this is simply not true. You can get bigger where you want and smaller where you want with just a little bit of knowledge, a plan, and the willpower to see it through to the end.  Your body is your piece of marble, and you can chisel it as you please.

It's time to make some big changes.  Get a headstart on your New Year's Resolutions... 

3 Reasons You Need Kettlebells In Your Fitness Routine

By Holly Goodwin, Club Trainer & Instructor

Perhaps you are a first time user, or maybe you have dabbled, but then cautiously retreated for fear of injuring yourself… or someone else. Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone! Kettlebells certainly can be very intimidating and could turn any slightly curious gym goer in the opposite direction. I mean really, kettlebells were used to train Russian armies dating back to the 1700’s. Now they are stocked in glamorous gyms and fitness studios all over the country. So, what’s all the fuss? Kettlebells can actually be an amazing addition to any individual’s workout routine. In fact, The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently did a study and found that the average person can burn 400 calories in just 20 minutes with a kettlebell. Which on average is an incredible 20 calories a minute, the equivalent of running a six-minute mile! They are a fun way to build intensity while also increasing strength. I incorporate them into every single one of my client’s programs as well as my own. Here’s why:

Kettlebell Workout - The P.E. Club
  • Anytime Anywhere (Gym at your Fingertips)

If you have a kettlebell, you literally have a gym at your fingertips. Any exercise performed with a dumbbell can certainly be done with a kettlebell. Plus they are super portable. Many, keep one in the trunk of their car, I keep two in my closet along with my shoes! You can use them everywhere: in parks, at home, or even at the beach. I myself have done many a kettlebell circuit in my living room during a snowstorm. You can train every muscle group and in any modality with a kettlebell. You truly have the convenience of being able to create a great total body workout whenever and wherever you like.

  • Two Birds One Stone (Endurance & Strength Training all in One)

Typically, many of us tend to break up our workouts into weight training and cardio. What’s so great about kettlebells is the body’s ability to be challenged by both at the same time. Kettlebells demand that you use your strength to maintain form, good posture, and complete the repetition properly – while the design of the bell allows you to move quickly and use momentum, which as a result elevates your heart rate. This allows you to save an enormous amount of time while still getting a comprehensive workout.

  • The Possibilities Are Endless (Any Movement, Any Body Part)

The possibilities that you have when working out with kettlebells are truly endless. They work both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. With just one bell you can create a killer cardio circuit or you can build a foundation with traditional strength movements, both extremely beneficial. You can move slowly and deliberately with a traditional movement, typically known as aGrind (ex: squat) or use the bell’s momentum to create a fast pace, known as a Ballistic exercise (ex: swing). You can literally perform a movement for every muscle group and in countless ways, with no additional equipment needed!

If you are a beginner, just like with any new workout, start slowly and progress moderately. Begin by just including just one new exercise into your routine with a kettlebell and then add on slowly. Before you know it you will be super comfortable and confidant, having a blast incorporating kettlebells into your exercise routine this year!

Try this basic Kettlebell Workout!

  1. Kettlebell Dead Lift
  2. Kettlebell Bent Over Row (single arm)
  3. Kettlebell Swing
  4. Kettlebell Press (single arm)
  5. Kettlebell Oblique Twist
  6. Complete the circuit 3x by doing 12-15 repetitions for each exercise.

Description of Exercises

Kettlebell Dead Lift

Place the kettlebell in front of your feet Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward at your waist, bending your knees slightly. Shift your weight slightly into your heels. Grab the bell with both hands, keeping a neutral spine; stand up tall while pushing your hips forward.

Kettlebell Bent Over Row

Place the kettlebell in front of your feet. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward at your waist, bending your knees slightly. Pick up the bell with one hand and begin to pull it to your stomach, gliding you arm along your rib cage retract your shoulder blade and flexing the elbow. Keep your back straight. Repeat on the left and right side.

Kettlebell Swing

Place the kettlebell between your feet and grab the bell with both hands. Push back with your hips and bend your knees to get into the starting position. Make sure that your back is flat and you are looking straight ahead. Swing the kettlebell between your legs forcefully. Quickly reverse the direction and drive your hips forward, allowing the bell to swing straight out. Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs and repeat.

 Kettlebell Press

Begin with the kettlebell resting on your on shoulder head, leaning towards your centerline (you should be able to wiggle your fingers and touch your chin), rotate your wrist so that the palm faces inward. This is known as “Rack Position”. Look at the kettlebell and press it up and out until it is locked out overhead. Lower the kettlebell back to your shoulder with control. Remember to keep your core engaged. Repeat on each side.

 Kettlebell Oblique Twist

Sit with legs together, knees bent and feet raised several inches. Hold sides of kettlebell handle (known as the horns) with both hands in front of chest. Lean back until your abdominals are engaged. Remember to keep the chest high and your back straight. Twist your upper body to one side, lowering kettlebell almost all the way to the floor, then twist to the other side to complete rep. Remember to keep hips and legs still.

Take Kettlebells for a swing in our TRX Bootcamp class with Holly!

What's Interval Training? 3 Ways To HIIT It & Quit It

HIIT…what is it?

By Owner, Trainer & Instructor Nedra Lopez-Matosov

You hear this word thrown around everywhere; it is the hottest new trend in exercising for fat loss. Or is it? Actually, High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT has been apart of the fitness world for more than 40 years. Simply put, it is a method of training where you perform repeated bouts of high intensity effort, followed by varied recovery times.

In the past, HIIT was used primarily in training Athletes, and became mainstream because of it’s time efficiency and many health benefits. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT training has been shown to:

  • Improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Reduce insulin sensitivity
  • Improve cholesterol profiles
  • Decrease abdominal fat and bodyweight while still maintaining muscle mass

Though HIIT is great for so many reasons, it does require a large amount of energy output in a short period of time, so a good amount of rest is needed for your body to fully recover. Nowadays many people assume the harder the workout, the better, and spend all week abusing their bodies in hopes of seeing a change. It’s actually when you vary workouts in strength, flexibility, recovery and HIIT when your body will change the fastest. Remember HIIT means high intensity and not high impact, so you can still get a great workout in without doing damage to your joints. I’m not saying that jumping is bad for you, but you have to be conditioned to do so. If you aren’t sure, than you probably aren’t!

What is HIIT? The P.E. Club

Here are some of my favorite HIIT Cardio, Strength and Tabata workouts:


METHOD: You can use any form of traditional cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, bike, rowing machine, etc.). Your “sprint” part of the interval should be performed at your max output, so push yourself! Your “walk” is designed to help bring your heart rate down, but not completely back to rest, so make sure you keep moving.

TOTAL TIME: 15min.

  1. 3min. warm up @ Steady pace (walk)
  2. 1min. Sprint
  3. 30sec. Walk
  4. 1min. Sprint
  5. 30sec. Walk
  6. 1min. Sprint (Start with 6 Sprints the first week and go up each week)
  7. 30sec. Walk
  8. 1min. Sprint
  9. 30sec. Walk
  10. 1min. Sprint
  11. 30sec. Walk
  12. 1min. Sprint
  13. 3min. cool Down @ Steady Pace (walk)

HIIT TYPE: Strength

METHOD: You can spice up any strength training routine by adding in some quick cardio intervals to keep your heart rate up. Keep it simple, think burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, etc. As far as your weights, make sure to choose a challenging weight and take a 60 sec. break between each round. (DB=dumbbell).  Make sure to stretch well after!!

  1. Warm Up: 
    1. 1 min. Plank
    2. 15 Push-ups
    3. 20 Bridges
    4. 30 sec. Mountain Climbers
  2. 3 Rounds
    1. 12 Squats w/ DB Press
    2. 12 DB Bent Over Row
    3. 30sec. Mountain Climbers
  3. 3 Rounds
    1. 12 DB Chest Press
    2. 12 Reverse Lunge w/DB Bicep Curl
    3. 15 Burpees w/push up

HIIT Type: Tabata 

METHOD: Tabata training is a method of HIIT where you perform 4 different exercises of your choice at maximum output for 20sec with 10sec. rest in between each. First Warm up for 5min. before you begin, then perform 8 cycles of the 4 exercises for a Total Time of 21 minutes, and make sure to stretch well after! Here is an example…

  1. Warm Up
    1. 5 min. jog
  2. Tabata: 8 cycles
    1. 20 sec. Push-ups
    2. 10 sec. Rest
    3. 20 sec. Alternating Reverse Lunge
    4. 10 sec. Rest
    5. 20 sec. Mountain Climbers
    6. 10 sec. Rest
    7. 20 sec. Reverse Crunch
    8. 10 Sec. Rest

Whether you are new to HIIT, or have been doing it for years, make sure to incorporate it into your fitness routine as a compliment to it, not your main focus. It’s important to keep your workouts constantly varying in intensity and duration. Most of all listen to your body… if you’re tired…sleep, if you’re hungry…eat clean, and if it’s your day to push yourself…HIIT.

New to HIIT? Experience a full round of Tabata with us in TRX Bootcamp!