More "Tips from the Trainers" | Westfield Area Y

More "Tips from the Trainers"

Scale--Friend or Foe
Aimee Ritter, Certifed Personal Trainer, AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America)

Here's the scenario:

You've had a great week of working out, you've been eating well and you feel great. You get on the scale and the number staring back at you is not what you had hoped. All of a sudden you feel angry and frustrated and ready to give up your fitness routine, because after all...what's the point?

The scale can be a great way to track your success but it can also lead you to feeling like a failure. The stress associated with negative feelings can actually cause you to gain weight. When under stress, the body's "Fight or Flight" response is triggered and the body begins to "fight" by releasing various hormones that can slow your metabolism. High levels of stress have also been linked to greater levels of abdominal fat, which not only makes your skinny jeans uncomfortable to wear, but is also linked with greater health risks than with fat that is stored in other parts of your body.

So forget the scale and instead focus on how great your exercise routine makes you feel and how much more energy you have and you'll be able to not only reduce your stress level, but your waistline as well.

Fuel Up After Exercise
Kim Spaccarotella, Master’s Degree in Exercise Science, Doctorate in Nutritional Sciences, Post-doctoral research in nutrition education, Adjuct faculty member at Kean, Certified Personal Trainer with American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

We've all heard that it's important to eat foods that provide energy before working out and drink adequate fluid. But, what we eat and drink after exercise is equally important. Food provides the fuel that powers the recovery period as muscles repair, and fluids keep these tissues hydrated. However, many exercisers aren't hungry immediately after working out, so a recovery beverage is a quick and easy alternative to solid food for a post-exercise snack.

To optimize recovery, the American Dietetic Association recommends drinking 24oz of fluid per pound of body weight lost during exercise. Ideally, rehydration should begin within 30 minutes after exercise ends and should be completed within 2 hours. In addition to providing fluid, a recovery beverage should contain carbohydrates to help the body restock its energy stores, protein to build muscle and electrolytes like sodium and potassium to replenish those lost through sweat. But before buying an expensive sports drink, head to the fridge. Recent research has suggested that drinking low-fat chocolate milk speeds recovery while providing calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. Best of all, its great taste makes it a post-workout treat you really can feel good about!

Balance Training – Why Is It Important?
Lynne Applebaum, Assistant Director of Health and Wellness/AOA, Certified Personal Trainer

I think most people would agree that being able to “catch” yourself before a fall on say, slippery wet leaves, a broken sidewalk or a patch of ice would be a great reason to incorporate balance training into their fitness program. Even more fundamentally – you need balance to walk down the stairs and to participate safely in most sports.

It will also strengthen your core, create kinesthetic awareness(ability to know where your body is in space), enriches proprioception(challenging internal balance and stablilization mechanisms of the body), and can help you to avoid injuries.

How do you start? It can be something as simple as standing on one foot, next to a support. Now, add some movement to this, such as a front raise of the leg in the air. Now, sweep that leg to the side and back in. By just performing this simple activity, you have begun to train the joints required(in this case, the ankle and knee of the support leg) to stabilize, and strengthen accordingly. When you become more adept at this activity, you can start to add other layers of “controlled instability,” such as a Dyna disc, or a Bosu trainer, both available here at the Y. Practicing these exercises in this controlled environment can really help train the body to respond to real life situations safely, such as the ones described in the first paragraph.

Balance exercises can be done anywhere – stand on one foot as you wait in line at the grocery store. At home, try standing on a foamy pillow with both feet, and then one foot. There is really no reason not to practice these simple, effective exercises that can help you enormously.

And who doesn’t need a little more balance in their life?

For more information about balance training, or any other fitness programs, please contact Lynne at x239 and set up your personal training session today!

Why Stretch?  Why After?
Michael Czech, ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Stretching is the first part of a successful strength program that people do not make time for (although proper warm up is a a close second). Stretching a muscle after a strength session helps restore it to its original pliability and length. Pliable muscles resist injury when put under stress. Longer muscles contribute to a greater range of motion (ROM). Range of motion is the amount of angle you can move a joint, allowing you to not only work your muscle harder and more completely, but to a level of greater strength. Think about jumping straight up (perhaps during a basketball game). Jump using only your ankles and your height achievement is limited. But bend your knees and give maximum effort in trying to jump as high as you can- you've demonstrated a greater range of motion in your legs, resulting in a higher leap.

Strength training is based on the principle of contracting a muscle, i.e: making it shorter in order to force its growth. After a session, when blood has flooded your muscles you may feel a "pump" or that your muscle feels full and hard, being able to lengthen that muscle to it's previous length allows better circulation in general and relaxes the contraction - reducing the soreness of the healing process (the soreness you feel after a workout). For this reason, stretching after a workout is absolutely vital. Studies show vast increases in strength and reductions in injuries from those who properly stretch.

For more information on stretching or to have the best workouts of your life, contact Lynne Applebaum at X239, to schedule an appointment with Mike or any of the other great trainers at the Y.

Comparing Machines vs. Free-Weight Exercise Modalities
Brad Raybold, MS, CPT

A topic of great debate within the health and fitness industry is the use of free weights versus machine resistance exercises. Here are a few things to keep in mind when incorporating these exercises into your program.

1.  Free weights allow a full range of motion (ROM) and the transfer of real-world movements is greater than that with machines.  Machines use a fixed ROM; thus, individuals must conform to the movement limitations of the machine. Often these movements do not mimic functional or athletic movements.

2.  Free-weight exercises can easily be adapted to fit most clients’ physical size or special requirements.

3.  Certain free-weight exercises (e.g., Olympic-style lifts) and pneumatic machines (e.g., Keiser machines in our Fitness Express Room, 2nd floor) allow training of power, as there is no joint deceleration.  Power is important for older adults to maintain function, as well as for athletes.

4.  Most machines isolate a muscle or muscle group; thus, negating the need for other muscles to act as assistant movers and stabilizing muscles.  This can be a negative for improving functional strength, but a positive for targeting hypertrophy/strength in specific muscles.

5.  Machines allow greater independence as the need for a spotter is diminished once the individual has learned proper technique.

6.  Machines can be less intimidating than working with free-weights.

7.  Machines offer rotational resistance which accommodates certain body movements (e.g., shoulder adduction) which can be difficult to work through a full ROM with free weights.

A safe and optimally effective resistance training program is a combination of both machine and free-weight exercise modalities. If you would like to know more about different resistance training exercises and how to incorporate them into your program, please contact a personal trainer through our training department.

Interval Training: what is it, who is it for, why should I do it?
Maureen Novack

What is interval training?
Basically, it is increasing the intensity of a workout in short bouts during a cardio workout. For example; if you are walking at a 3.5mph pace on the treadmill and put the speed up to 4 or 4.5mph for about 30-60 seconds that is an interval. The same can be done while running, cycling, swimming etc. Any aerobic exercise can have intervals added to it to increase the intensity. The key is to work the intervals at a pace you couldn’t hold for the entire workout, just for the specified time that you or your trainer decides upon.

Who is interval training for?
This type of training can be done by anyone, young to old, walker to marathon runner and anyone in between.

Why should I do interval training?
There are several great reasons to add intervals to your workouts. One is that they create a change in a workout that may otherwise be somewhat stale. Two, it is great to do intervals if you want to get a lot out of a short workout. Three, intervals increase the calorie burn during and after a workout. So if weight loss is a goal, intervals should definitely be part of your program. Four, they add a challenge, so even a seasoned exerciser has to put forth a greater effort. Five, they increase your cardiovascular endurance and strength. To me that is the best reason to do intervals, without a strong heart muscle your whole body suffers. Six, intervals bring camaraderie to a group. My running class likes to complain when we do intervals but the common struggle has built friendships.

If you would like to know more about interval training and how to add it in to your exercise routine please contact a personal trainer through our training department.

Goals Setting Checklist
Val Krebs

We’ve all heard umpteem times that we should exercise more--from the media, from our doctors, and perhaps even from the ones closest to us.  We all well know that the closest thing to a “magic bullet” for maintaining youth and optimal health is a well-balanced combination of exercise and proper nutrition, right?  Why then is it so arduous for many of us to integrate exercise on a consistent and regular basis?  “Sticking with it” becomes our albatross on many an occasion due to life’s challenges and changing priorities, blah, blah blah... Well…, the critical difference in those who exercise consistently and regularly and those who don’t is perspective.  Those who are in it for the long-haul so to speak, do it so they can do it again, and they set goals that are achievable because they are reasonable.  For those who are less in love with exercise or have varying levels of disdain for it, a mere tweak in outlook can make all the difference.  So, a few things to consider if you are not on the I love to exercise band wagon:

(1) When developing goals make sure they are realistic and obtainable. Realistic is subjective I will agree, but to put it in perspective, HONESTLY assess your current ability and increase it no more than 10% each week.  Also, be specific about your goal(s) and put them in writing.  Post it a location where you will be reminded often (e.g. bathroom cabinet mirror).  So….. for example, if you can run 10 straight min on the treadmill before needing to walk, your goal for the next week will be to run 11 straight min. before walking to recover your breath.

(2) Additionally, many find it motivating to develop short as well as long-term goals.  Your short-term goals are goals that you want to obtain in four to eight weeks, and your long-term goals are goals you wish to obtain in 6 months - 1 year. Both are equally important, however you will find that your short-term goals are the ones that keep you pumped and ready to go.  Short-term goals program your mind to stay focused on the task, which helps to achieve that goal.  Update goals at appropriate times to record progress or lack thereof.

A short checklist to help guide you develop your own specific goals:

1. Why are you exercising? This could be weight loss, increase strength etc.

2. What is motivating you to make changes?

3. What are your specific goals?  This should be a detailed plan including how you are going attain your specific goal.
4. What is the big picture?  Could this be improving your quality of life, getting ready for a 5K, 10K, triathon, etc?

Take into account that plans should be flexible and adjusted depending on what is happening in your life. Below are a few questions to ask yourself, to help keep you on track:

1. Are the activities that you have chosen, the ones you enjoy doing? Find exercises that you enjoy--let’s face it if you don't like it you won't do it!

2. Can you commit to your exercise program? Be REALISTIC. If you’ve been sedentary, do not commit to exercising 4 times a week at the start--you risk setting your self up for disappointment and failure to commit long term.

3. How do you schedule and organize exercise into your day?  You must make an effort to schedule exercise into your hectic day whether it is in morning, a quick workout at noon, or on your way home.  You are more likely to stick with an exercise program if you include it into your daily routine.
4. Do you feel good after exercising?

Once you have established goals use them as a road map, they will guide you on your road to success. Refer to them often and watch your progress grow towards success!

Work in the "ZONE"
Greg Hatzisavvas

Have you ever worked out on a piece of exercise equipment and saw something on the console of the machine that says, “Target Heart Rate Zone?” Next, have you or someone you know ever said, “I workout three to five days per week and I still cannot seem to lose weight or feel as good as I would like?” Working out in your target heart rate zone is one way you can reach these goals. By working in your “ZONE,” you will get the maximal benefit from your workout. It will make reaching your goals more realistic!

To figure out what your “ZONE” is, the system that I would recommend is called the Karvonen Method. All you need to figure this out is your age and resting heart rate. If you don’t know how to take your heart rate, just ask a trainer at the YMCA. Your heart rate should be taken when you are most relaxed, like first thing in the morning (as long as you don’t wake up from a nightmare!).

This takes a little bit of math, but it is worth it! Here’s the formula…

([220-Age]-[Your Heart Rate at Rest] x .50%) + Your Heart Rate at Rest = _____

([220-Age]-[Your Heart Rate at Rest] x .85%) + Your Heart Rate at Rest = _____

So for example, a 50 year old with a resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute:

([220-50]-[70] x .50%) + 70 = 120

([220-50]-[70] x .85%) + 70 = 155

So, for this individual their “ZONE” is between 120 and 155 beats per minute. Working out in this zone will provide them with maximal cardiovascular benefits.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis or a past cardiovascular event, your “ZONE” will be a little different. For more information I can be reached at or just ask for one of our personal trainers.

Bill Lynch

As a trainer, I cannot count how many times I’ve seen people exercising without water at their side. The bottom line is that water is one of the most important elements in your body…Our bodies are about 60% water afterall. Your body needs proper hydration to function effectively. Our blood, which transports nutrients and wastes throughout our body is mostly water. The water in the body also helps regulate our temperature.

But how much water should we consume? I’m sure you have heard that drinking eight, 8-oz glasses of water per day is idea (64 oz). Does a 275 pound man have different hydration needs than a 120 pound woman? Well…a simple way to gauge how much water you need is by your weight. Divide your body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces. For a 150 pound person this would be 75 ounces per day. Stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day and especially during your workout.

Outdoor Tips
Lynne Applebaum

As the weather gets warmer and we move our physical activities outdoors, here are a few practical tips to keep you healthy and motivated!


• Don’t forget the sunscreen, and re-apply frequently. There are now many new brands that are made for active people, oil and fragrance-free, water-resistant and broad-spectrum, meaning it blocks UVA and UVB rays. Apply before you go out, and reapply every two hours – even if it says it is water-resistant.

• Hydrate frequently – before, during and after you workout. Be consistent with this – drink before you feel thirsty – doing this will keep your body’s water level from dropping too low if you’re sweating or if it’s very hot. Sports drinks are a great choice post-workout.

• Pay attention to signs of overheating – these can become serious medical conditions. Warning signs can be dizziness, clammy skin, disorientation and abnormally hot or cold skin. Take breaks when you start to feel too hot.

• Dress in light colored and lightweight clothing – the faster that sweat can evaporate, the faster your body can cool down.


• Try some things you don’t normally do that are great in warm weather. Hiking is a great way to get fit, have fun and appreciate some beautiful scenery. There are many terrific trails right here in New Jersey and lots of resources for different places to go.

• Do your own personal triathlon! Combine a swim, bike and a run at your own pace, inside or outside. The Y is a terrific option for the indoor version on a day that’s just too hot outside.

• Get a buddy and meet in the evening or early morning when it’s a little cooler for and go for a refreshing walk.

• Pack a light, healthy lunch, put it in a backpack, and bike to a beautiful park for a picnic.

Use your imagination and ask any one of our fitness staff for suggestions –we’re glad to help!


Important Elements to Your Exercise Program
Christine Taglieri

The elements of physical fitness are the same no matter what your age: endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination, agility, core function, and balance.

As we age, it becomes even more important to maintain a consistent exercise program with these elements. Our bodies become more prone to disease and injury. Just thirty minutes of exercise a day promotes new cell growth throughout all the organs and tissues in our bodies.

A favorite quote of mine is “We make time for what is important to us!”

Ask yourself, “Do I want to live a long and healthy life?” Almost everyone will answer yes to this question. If you answered yes, PLEASE give yourself the gift of time. Schedule an appointment with YOU and make time to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Look at your calendar for the month in advance and write down when you will exercise. We do this for a hair cut, a doctor’s appointment, meetings and parties! Make living a healthy life a priority!

Initially, you may need a little extra motivation and direction. Seeking the support and expertise of a certified personal trainer will help you to develop an exercise program that combines all the important elements. MAKE TIME FOR YOU! Those who love you will be happy you did!


Active Rest - To Maximize the Efficiency of Your Workouts
Daniel Kaltneckar

Consider making use of "active rest."

How you rest between sets can dramatically impact your workout, and not all rest is created equal - put some thought into the time management of your routine. When performing strength training exercises, if you're doing a set of 8-12 reps, the actual work is performed for 12-20 seconds followed by anywhere from 30 seconds rest to 2 minutes rest (depending on who you are and how hard you working out). If you think about the work to rest ratio of your workout, it might not be as productive as you would like it to be.

To really enhance your productivity and results, incorporating active rest should be seen as one of many workout components to manipulate. Active rest can be used in a number of ways, and you can be creative with it, depending on your goals.

Active Rest can be anything from:

• light abdominal work
• traditional strength training exercises performed with lighter weight
• a walk around the gym
• dynamic stretching
• any kind of step-ups, or plyometrics

The fitness staff at the Westfield Area Y can help you out with deciding which type of active rest is best suited for you.


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Westfield, NJ,
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The Westfield Area YMCA is a nonprofit human service organization dedicated to developing the full potential of every individual and family in the communities it serves through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.