Fitness Friday: To Stretch or Not To Stretch

So, I am a runner, spinner, tennis player, and I do strength training, but I never know what the true rule is on “to stretch or not to stretch”. I decide to take this question to a pro. I had a talk with Kirk Kaps, a Certified Athletic Trainer at Champion Sports Medicine, who works daily with professional athletes (and small unknown athletes like me.) He told me this, “In the past, we have always heard that is important for us to make sure we stretch our muscles very well before physical activity. Before this could occur, it was told that we must get a good warm-up in order to get a good stretch for the muscle groups when they are considered “cold” muscles. One recent study, performed in 2011, concluded that if you normally stretch and warm up before running, then by all means, continue that. But, if you’re a runner who doesn’t stretch at all, and still gets in a good warm-up, then continue your routine. In essence, each athlete should continue their own routine, but they should continue to get a 3 to 5 minute warm-up before they start their activity.” I hope this helps when you are stumped with this same question.

You can find this study at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20110217/stretch-before-running-new-twist-on-old-debate

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Fitness Friday: Top 5 Best Workouts for Burning Calories

How can you get the most from workouts? Take a look at the top calorie burning exercises if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

1. Running-Running is the easiest, cheapest workout. All you need is some good running shoes and a street or trail. Depending of your pace, running is said to burn up to 500 to 700 calories in an hour.

2. Spinning-The great thing about spin (or indoor cycling) classes is that anyone can do them. Also, it’s a great cross-training workout and not hard on the joints or knees. Some spin classes, with a lot of intervals, are said to burn up to 600 to 700 calories in an hour.

3. Jumping Rope-If your’e short on time, this is the exercise to do. Jumping rope for only 10 minutes is said to burn 130 calories or 780 calories an hour. I think I’m going to buy one tomorrow :).

4. Zumba-Dancing for an hour is a great way to burn calories, and this latest rage is said to burn up to 500 calories in an hour. Its popularity is increasing by the week.

5. Swimming-This all over body workout is easy on the joints and great for you. It is a great workout for cross-training, and 30 minutes of the breast stroke can burn 400 calories in only 30 minutes.

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Fitness Friday: Hot 2012 Yoga Trends

Welcome to my new Friday column, “Fashion Friday” where I’ll be sharing the latest and greatest information and tips to inspire, help and share my passion for fitness. To kick off this Friday, here are some Top Yoga Trends:

1. Paddleboard Yoga-This outdoor yoga class has peaked my eyes for a while. It looks like an incredible workout in general and awesome for the abs. If there’s a way to find balance and be outdoors at the same time, I am in.

2. Yoga-Spinning-Often called, “Zen on Wheels, ” I can’t think of two more fun exercises that are more fun complement each other. A 30 minute spin class followed by a 30 minute yoga class sounds like a great calorie burning and great combination that I am ready to try.

3. Hot Yoga/Bikram-Although I am a longtime fan for over 8 years, hot yoga is getting even “hotter” every day. Ninety minutes in a heated room will change your body and your life. I am thrilled Bikram Yoga Birmingham has come to Birmingham, and the more I go, the better I feel. Anyone can do this. Just try it, and be patient.

4. Yoga and Weight Lifting-Featured in this month’s Women’s Health Magazine, this routine, created by a New York instructor, combines upper-body strength exercises into a fast-paced circuit with yoga breathing. I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of these combined exercises.

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Spinning: Cycling Rain or Shine

I took my first “spin” (or cycling) class a few years ago, and I loved it. I quickly learned that the teacher and the music can make or break the class, but you can do it at your own level so it’s a great exercise for anyone. It’s also a great cross-training exercise as well. I am so excited to share this interview on spinning-how to’s with one of my favorite instructors, Josh Beck. Josh is the true definition of athlete inspiration. Since getting involved in endurance sports in 1999, he has completed 8 ironmans, 22 marathons and currently holds the East-West state record for cycling across Alabama. When it comes to cycling, he knows the drill. Check out our interview below:

1. Why did you start teaching spin classes?  I had always utilized spin classes to stay in cycling shape throughout the winter.  So, I figured if I taught the class, I could share a couple of interval, high intensity workouts with others.

2. Why do you recommend trying a spin class? What are the benefits?  Cycling in general is just great cardiovascular work without too much wear and tear on your joints. Other than swimming, it’s hard to find a better low-impact cardio workout.

3. Why do you think indoor cycling has become so popular?  People come for so many different reasons.  The main factor is:  it’s more fun to exercise with a group (camaraderie factor).

4. Why should people incorporate spinning in their cross-training?  The main reason is injury prevention.  Running, in particular, 4 to 6 days per week can really take a toll on your joints and ligaments. No matter what your main sport, cycling is a good way to mix it up from a physiological and mental standpoint.  If you put forth 100% effort on the intervals during a spinning class, you can’t help but gain some cardio fitness (increased ability to process oxygen).  This will transfer over to your other sports.

5. How many calories can you burn in an hour spin class?  It really depends on the instructor.  My classes have high intensity intervals sprinkled throughout the hour.  If a rider does the workout like I have it laid out, a male will burn around 1,000 and female around 800 calories.

6. How important is the music to the class?  Very important.  Climbing songs need a steady, consistent beat.  Fast, interval songs need a fast beat and to be high energy.  The music needs to match the segment of the workout you are doing.  If the music is bad, well, so is the class.

7. Do you have any tips for beginners?  Your first move should be to have the instructor help you set up the bike so that it fits properly.  It is like any other type of exercise; it takes a few times to build up your conditioning to where you can really push yourself for the entire hour.  Just do the best you can during the first several classes.  Another factor is saddle comfort.  If you are going to spend time on a bike seat, you need to get some cycling shorts that have a chamois built in.  Lastly, you should try each of the instructors’ classes at least once to find the class that fits you the best.

Top Fitness Trends of 2011

I’m so excited to introduce a new addition to my site called “Lifestyle”. In this section, I will be writing about fitness, healthy living, health, nutrition and more. I am so excited about this opportunity as I will be taking my passion for a healthy lifestyle to a new level. This week my “Lifestyle” post is about fitness trends. I have been researching and talking to many fitness professionals to determine what I think are going to be the Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2011. Please let me know if you have some ideas of your own.


1. Yoga-Different styles of yoga are becoming mainstream, and more people are catching on to the physical and mental benefits of yoga. I personally love “Bikram” (hot yoga). See information on corporate yoga (below).

2. Strength Training-More and more data explains the importance of strength training. There’s a strong trend of sports specific training for kids, teens and adults. Group training is also even becoming more popular because of the reductions of personal training costs.

3. Core Workouts-Workouts focusing on the core are trending with ball workouts, plank workouts, water core workouts and horizontal workouts.

4. Spin Cycling classes-Indoor cycling classes are really taking off. You can ride at your own level, get a great workout and sweat, and do it even if it’s dark or rough weather. Warning, it really revs up the appetite.

5. Bootcamp Workouts-Personal trainers, as well as, gyms are having more group style mix-it-up workout classes that are tough challenges to the body.

6. Interval Training-High interval training classes (HIT) are becoming very popular this year as well as interval training in all sports such as running, cycling and swimming. You can burn a lot of fat in a short amount of time with this type of workout.

8. Yoga Spinning-This combines yoga and spinning in one workout. I’ve haven’t tried this, but I hear the two go together like a “yin and yang” combining stretching and strengthening all in one. It sounds fun to cycle to new age music.

9. Piloxing-This new celebrity craze combines the power, speed and agility of boxing with the sculpting of pilates. I can’t wait to try this.

10. Body Weight Workouts-Workouts using your body weight are becoming hot. My friend, Sandra, Owner of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, specializes and is the founder of “Horizontal Conditioning”. This is a challenging workout that creates a lean sculpted body. She has DVD’s of her workouts as well as ball videos.

Note: The photo above was taken by Joseph DeSciose of my friend, Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga. Jennifer travels around with her mat in tow to business offices such as law firms and corporations. She brings a yoga mind and strong workout to the corporate world.