Where do I start?

Getting started with an exercise program can be difficult.

Where do I start? What should I do? Will I make a fool of myself?

Believe me, these are all questions that have run through the head of nearly every person who starts an exercise program.  You’re not alone.

When first starting an exercise program, make sure you’re cleared to exercise.  Check with your doctor, make sure there’s nothing brewing under the surface.  Once you’re cleared and assuming no restrictions, I recommend incorporating both resistance and cardiovascular exercise, especially if weight loss and/or improving daily function are part of your goals.  Don’t just go to the gym and start lifting heavy stuff though.  With the resistance exercise, it’s very important to make sure your body can support and manage it’s own weight before adding more weight to it.  For most, that means beginning with the core.  Let’s start by defining the core.   Your core is more than your abs.  It’s the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and all the muscles that attach to it.  It’s the muscles of the chest, upper, middle, and lower back, the spinal extensors, the hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and yes, your abs.  All movement begins in the core.  The job of the core is to support your body when walking, sitting, or performing any type of movement.   Since it’s job is to support the body, it only makes sense that we stabilize and strengthen the core and allow it to manage your own body weight first. Only then should you start adding external weights.  Below you’ll find several sample videos of exercises designed to activate the core. 

As for your cardio exercise, pick something you enjoy.  My first choice for cardio exercise: Go outside!  Take a brisk walk. Ride a bike.  Indoor options? How about the rowing machine, Stairmaster, Stepmill, Versa Climber, treadmill, or elliptical machine.  

Get your heart rate up and keep it up for the duration of your exercise.  There are lots of formulas out there to tell you where your heart rate should be.  Frankly, most are fiction, based on little science.  A good rule of thumb to use is the Talk Test.  Imagine yourself doing your preferred exercise. Can you still hold a conversation with someone or are you huffing and puffing too hard.  Bring yourself to just below that point where it starts to get difficult to hold a conversation and stay there for the duration of the exercise.  As your fitness develops, you can experiment with other more intense cardio options

The important thing here is to take it slow to start and make sure you’re within your limits.  Your cardiovascular system will develop faster than your muscular system, so don’t get ahead of yourself and ramp your exercise up too quickly.  I see a lot of people who start an exercise program and they jump in with both feet.  While enthusiasm is great, they hop off the couch and immediately start with a 3 mile run or an hour on the treadmill.  They do this for a couple of days, they’re still feeling fine, so they double their efforts thinking they’ll get results faster.  Instead, stuff starts to hurt and they end up quitting.

If you’re just off the couch and just starting your cardio exercise program, start with 20-30 minutes at a reasonable pace.  Do this for a couple weeks and begin to increase gradually.  You’ll be less likely to get injured and more likely to see better long-term results.  Long term results is what you’re after, right!

Remember, you didn’t get to where you are in a week and you’re not going to get to your goals in a week either.  Make smart choices and give it the right time and you’ll see success.

With that in mind, here are a few great exercises that can get you started and help activate the core.   Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

Functional warm-up sequence





Rowing crunches



Bird dog



Stability ball rollout






5 Medicine Ball Exercises You Need to Know


What’s your motivation?

John and Rachael at Iceman 2004

This is going to be a really quick post. 

Today, it’s your turn.  I’d like to know what’s your motivation?  What’s your reason for working out?

For me, a workout is a means to an end and something that helps me toward a goal of creating a lasting memory.  I enjoy riding my bike and my workouts are geared toward improving my performance on the bike.   One of my favorite memories is the Iceman race in Northern Michigan.  I’ve ridden the race 17 times, but specifically the five times I’ve ridden the race with my daughters have created the greatest memories.

Leave a comment below right now about your motivation and what you’re doing to create those memories.

7 secrets to successful fat loss

7 weight loss secrets
7 weight loss secrets

I get lots of questions about weight loss and I give lots of information.  When it comes down to it, we already know this stuff.  It’s just putting it into practice that’s the hard part. 

Get my latest special report:

7 Secrets to Successful Fat Loss


You can download it for free, but get it quick because it’s only going to be available for a short time. 

Before you download this killer free information that you can use right now, I have one favor to ask.

All I ask is that you leave me a comment below and let me know what you think of the report and how you’re going to put these strategies in play today!

Do you eat better when you…

Back away from the chocolate!
Back away from the chocolate!
The other day I heard an offhand comment on one of my favorite podcasts, The FitCast, about frequency of workouts and better nutrition and it got me thinking. The comment posed the theory that clients who come to the gym more frequently often eat better. While they didn’t have any formal evidence to back up the theory and I haven’t found a study that correlates the two, I think there’s some truth to the idea. Although this may seem obvious to many, I’m not sure I had given it too much thought. I started thinking about my clients, their frequency at the fitness center either working with me or on their own, and their adherence to better nutrition and I believe there’s a correlation.

While there are a fair number of people that believe they can crank away for an hour on the elliptical machine and that somehow will cancel out the mammoth hot fudge sundae they’ll eat on the way home. I believe that there are as many or more people who stick to their guns and eat better because they don’t want to cancel out the benefits of their workout.

Without evidence to back it up, I’d guess at the following possible reasons:

1. The obvious reason would suggest that those who are at the gym more often are just naturally more interested in their health. They’ve built exercise into their lifestyles and better eating goes hand in hand.

2. You’re probably less likely to spend time at the gym only to go and undo all that effort with junk food.

3. They have a clear and attainable goal in mind and a solid plan to reach that goal. This is one that a lot of people miss. People often have fuzzy goals, unrealistic goals that set them up for failure, or no plan to really reach their goal and they go about their exercise haphazardly.

So, if you’re focused on weight loss as a primary goal, go to the fitness center more frequently. Sure, you could do 3 sixty minute workouts per week. But, I’ll bet you get better results with 6 thirty minute workouts because you’ll be more likely to tie in better nutrition.

Try it out and let me know what happens.