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ICS Fitness Blog

Tips, tricks and useful information for a healthier body.
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Searching for a personal trainer?

Searching for a personal trainer?

Searching for a personal trainer? Whether you just want someone counting repetitions next to you, help you get over an injury, give guidance for a medical condition, or you need to work towards a specific performance goal, choosing a personal trainer is not unlike finding the right partner. Here are some insights on how to choose the most appropriate one for you.

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Alison Berke

Sleepless in New York City? Rest Up This Summer!

Work Hard, Play Hard, and Rest Up This Summer!

For many of us hard-driving New Yorkers, the longer days of summer give us the perfect chance to fit more in on any given day.  In addition to our usual work time, down time and training time, somehow it seems  there’s “found time” – to finish projects we’ve put  off, read  books we haven’t read, binge watch show’s we’ve missed. 

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Alison Berke

Pain and Injury

Pain and Injury

Push through it! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! No pain, no gain! Right?
Well, maybe not.

We understand that feeling of accomplishment when you eke out that last heavy rep, sprint to the finish line, or hit a new personal best. But if you’re experiencing sharp, unusual pain or chronic pain during your workout, and/or if you still have that discomfort after you stop, rest, ice, compress, elevate, and force yourself to take an extra recovery day, maybe it’s time to listen to your body – and stop listening to the voice that says “more suffering leads to better results.”

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Alison Berke

FItness and Aging Through the Decades – 60s

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We’ve got some great news to share: today, we’re living longer lives than ever before! The average American can expect to live for 78.8 years. And someone who’s 65 years old today can expect to live, on average, 19.3 years more – that’s 20.5 years for women and 17.9 years for men. When you think about it, even well into our 60s there’s a lot more living to look forward to!

If you’ve been reading our blogs on Fitness and Aging through the Decades (Part 1, Part 2), you know we can’t prevent the aging process, but we can certainly slow it down -- with exercise. A strong, active person can better stand up to Father Time than a weaker, more sedentary one, and a strong, active person also has a greater chance for better quality of life down the road, too. 

As we’ve also told you, weight-bearing exercises (i.e., walking, running, hiking, jumping, dancing) and resistance training exercises (i.e., using weight machines, lifting free weights, using resistance bands and/or simple functional movements like getting up from and sitting down in a chair) are very helpful for maintaining the muscle mass and bone density we desperately need as we move through our 40s and 50s and beyond. 

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Alison Berke

Fitness and aging through the decades - 40s & 50s

Fitness and aging through the decades - 40s & 50s

In our last post, we discussed some of the changes related to strength, endurance, and flexibility that our bodies begin to experience once we turn 30. In our 40s and 50s, these and other changes can become even more pronounced.
We’ll give you the bad news first.

Bone Density Changes

Our bones, while hard and sturdy, are actually living, growing tissue, comprised of collagen (a protein), calcium-phosphate mineral complexes that make bones strong and living bone cells that replace sections of bone when they are weak.

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Alison Berke

Fitness and aging through the decades -30s

Fitness and aging through the decades -30s

Exercise in your 30’s

The famous comedian George Burns once said, “You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.” Burns lived to be 100, so he must have known what he was talking about.

While there is no magic pill, potion or fountain-of-youth cocktail, there is a lot we can do to keep from getting old, even as we age. And the sooner we start the better, so we can attain – and maintain -- a level of fitness that gives our body the best shot at doing what we need it to do – year after year, and decade after decade.

This is the first in a series of posts on exercise and aging, starting with the big three-o. 

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Alison Berke

Group Fitness Classes & Community

Group Fitness Classes & Community

By our calculations, there are literally thousands of group fitness classes in and around New York City on a daily basis. There’s a group class for every purse and preference, from indoor cycling, to boot camp to barre; from boxing, to rowing to running; from yoga, to hip hop to HIIT. And that’s just to name a few!

In addition to discovering new ways to work out, through a group class you many also discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for: a community. 

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Alison Berke

Valentine's Day Workout

Valentine's Day Workout

For some, Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, flowers, a fancy dinner and romantic night to remember.
For others -- newly dating, single, or just broken up -- Valentine’s Day can be the opposite: fraught with anxiety and even disdain for the holiday.
However your Valentine’s Day is shaping up, we promise it can be better than you anticipate, if you incorporate one simple thing into your day: a couples workout -- with a romantic partner or “just a friend”! 

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Alison Berke

7 Short & Long-term Health Benefits from Exercise

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If you read our last post, you know that one of the keys to fitness success is making S.M.A.R.T. goals – ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. And now that we’re a few weeks into the New Year, hopefully you’ve established your S.M.A.R.T. goals, and are on your way to achieving them. 

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Alison Berke

Be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals in 2016!

Be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals in 2016!

Making S.M.A.R.T. goals

2016! It's a new year, and a perfect time to make new plans, explore new opportunities and have a fresh start.

When it comes to your fitness goals for the New Year, we have some simple advice to help set you up for success: This year, don't make broad-statement fitness goals that demand record-pace results. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals instead! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This easy-to-remember acronym provides a fantastic framework for a making a plan to which you can commit -- and stick. And if you follow a few steps – thinking carefully, asking yourself tough questions and answering them honestly -- we believe you'll be able to set goals you can reach and be proud of what you accomplish.

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Beat diabetes with strength!

Beat diabetes with strength!

Effects of resistance training on type 2 diabetes

Do you have type 2 diabetes and want to lower your body fat, decrease your lipid profile, reduce your glucose levels, improve your strength, and walk faster?

Here is how a group of elders aged 60 and up did it in as little as six months. In their study, the authors (Sijie, Wei, & Jianxiong, 2012), divided 25 sedentary participants into an exercise group and a control group that did not change any of their habits. Within six months, those in the exercise group reduced their waist to hip ratio by 0.5 in average bringing them into a healthy range, decreased their lipid profile (cholesterol), significantly decreased their glucose levels, increased their leg strength and were able to walk more during a five-minute test.

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Alison Berke

Dynamic stretches vs. static stretches

Dynamic stretches vs. static stretches

What you should know about stretching (part 2)

If you read our last post (if not, you can read part 1 here), you know how strongly we, at ICS Fitness feel about stretching. It should be part of every workout and part of your daily life. Dynamic stretches and static stretches are two of the many types of stretches you can readily incorporate into your all of your routines. And you should!

Static Stretches
Static stretches are ideal for post-workout stretching. When you train, your muscles are in a state of contraction – they're tightened or tensed -- and need to relax when they're done working. Static stretching relaxes the muscles and helps the joints regain their fullest range of motion. 

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Alison Berke

Stretch...not just your imagination!

Stretch...not just your imagination!

What you should know about stretching (part 1)

“I don’t have time.” “I hate doing it.” “I’ll do it tomorrow.” 

Personal trainers hear this all the time from friends, family, around the gym and even from clients. We get it, we all lead busy lives in New York City. However, on the heels of the iconic New York Marathon, understanding the principles of stretching are evermore important. 

Ironically, in order to maintain fitness over the long term, stretching is as important a part of a cardiovascular or resistance training session as anything else in the workout – maybe even more so. 

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Meet Our Trainer Jerome

Meet Our Trainer Jerome

Jerome "J Rome" Wayne

Let me introduce you to our newest team member, Jerome Wayne. He may sound familiar if you follow American Idol as he was the winner of its spin-off show Duets where he sang with Jennifer Nettes to take the title (you can watch it here). However, aside from his successful entertainment career, I met Jerome as one of my students from the reputable American Academy of Personal Training in New York City where I currently teach. This gave me the opportunity to interview him every day for three months. It did not take long for me to notice his passion for the craft.

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Train Like a Girl: Getting FITT and Enjoying it

Train Like a Girl: Getting FITT and Enjoying it

Train Like a Girl: Getting FITT and Enjoying it
By Naomi Dunston


As women we desire the perfect body. Whatever that perfect body means to you: the body you had in your mid-twenties, the body you had three years ago, the body you had before your pregnancy, or be the body you have now!

The million dollar question that I get from women around the clock is..."How do I get rid of THIS (points to most undesired area on her body)?" My first suggestion is to stop nitpicking at your body and start to love your body because it has gotten you this far in life without (completely) breaking down on you. Second, believe that you have complete control to change any part of your body. And lastly, train like a girl! What does that mean? Bump up the intensity of your workouts and stop playing around with those butterfly weights when doing arm curls. Unless instructed by your physical therapist or pilates instructor there is no need for you to spend 45 minutes with a three pound dumbbell.

Frequency
If your fitness goals are important to you, you will make your training sessions and workout routines a priority. General health requirements recommend that you exercise three to five times a week to improve your fitness levels. Change does not happen overnight, it takes time and you have to put that time in.

IntensityA0012129

If you don't wear a heart rate monitor it's hard to measure the intensity of your workouts but it's not impossible to determine them. There should be enough demand on your body to increase your heart and respiratory rates without causing you exhaustion or breathlessness. If you wear a device that tracks your heart rate, work between 60 and 90% of your maximal heart rate.

Time
If your workouts are 30 minutes, the physical demands should be at a higher intensity with less breaks versus a 60-minute workout where the intensity is moderate and there may be more breaks.

Type
There are various training styles and it can be easy to stick to one style for a long time. Whether or not you reach your fitness goals and how fast you reach them comes down to the style of training that you are doing.

Enjoyment
Is what you are doing enjoyable? Some people genuinely enjoy being active, some prioritize their physical fitness for health purposes, and others do it for aesthetics. Regardless of the reason, the process is hard but when it is all said and done people are quick to share their workout accomplishments.

If you have any questions about resistance training, please ask us on our Facebook page.

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Train Like A Girl: Cardio vs. Resistance Training

Train Like A Girl: Cardio vs. Resistance Training

Train Like A Girl: Cardio vs. Resistance Training
by our trainer Naomi Dunston

On a daily basis, I encounter women who do a lot of cardiovascular exercise; treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, cycling,Zumba, and so on. I also encounter women who do resistance training but have not gained the lean muscle mass that they have been working towards for the past six months or so. I'm confident in sharing my expertise with women based off three things: First, their style of training, second, the level of intensity they are working at and lastly, the size of the weight they are using. It is clear that no matter how many articles and videos that are available online explaining the benefits of resistance training, women have this belief that they will become these massive hulk-like creatures if they lift weights. Ladies, I can assure you that unless you're taking steroids or eating vasts amounts of chicken and rice it will be nearly impossible for that to happen. Our bodies are not built that way. When we lift we get lean. Let's dig deeper and understand how these two, very different, forms of training are making or breaking your body.

Cardiovascular Training (Cardio Training)A0012286

  • - Increase blood circulation
  • - Benefits hormones, feel good effect
  • - Increased heart rate and lower resting heart rate
  • - Increased metabolism
  • - Increase lean muscle tissue
  • - Improvement in mental alertness
  • - Reduced risk of heart disease
  • - Management of diabetes and reduced risk of obesity

Resistance Training (Strength Training)

  • - Increase blood circulation
  • - Benefits hormones, feel good effect
  • - Increased heart rate/Lower resting heart rate
  • - Decrease risk of injury
  • - Increase metabolism
  • - Increase lean muscle mass
  • - Increase muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments strength
  • - Increase bone density
  • - Increase muscle strength and athletic performance
  • - Improvement in mental focus and coordination
  • - Reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes

Now that the similarities and differences are listed it should be easier for you to see where you are putting your time and effort when you are at the gym. If you are looking to increase your overall performance and do a complete body transformation resistance training is the way to go. Resistance training offers your body so many more physiological, physical, and performance benefits that it just makes sense to go that rout no matter what your fitness level is. However, this does not mean you should avoid or stop doing cardiovascular exercise, especially if you enjoy those activities.

The tricky part is putting together a fitness program that will work for you. As a personal trainer this is the most complex and challenging part of our job simply because everybody is different and not every person is patient. I have worked with an array of women; women who want to deadlift over 200lbs, women who want a leaner body, women who are struggling with obesity and depression, and women who have never stepped foot in a gym. Regardless of what your goal is resistance training is your best bet.
See how Getting FITT and Enjoying it is possible in our next blog.

If you have any questions about resistance training, please ask us on our Facebook page.

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Why Do We Get Fat? Part 2

Why Do We Get Fat? Part 2

Creating a Calorie Deficit

The causes for obesity are multifactorial. We covered some of those factors in part one which you will find here. Today we will go over calories and exercise.

Calories:
In theory, fat contains 9 kcal per gram, protein has 4 kcal, and carbohydrates have 4 kcal per gram.
How many calories do you need per day? You can calculate your needs using an online tool. In order to lose weight, you should aim for a caloric deficit of around 300 to 500 kcals per day. At the end of the week you should go for 1 to 2 lbs (0.45 to 1 kg). These numbers may seem low but maintaining this rate will make you lose at least 52 lbs (23.4 kg) after only one year.

portion sizes

The 3,500 kcal myth: The rule of thumb that in order to lose 1 pound or 454 g of fat, we need to burn 3,500 kcal is a myth. The calculation of 3,500 kcal is faulty when we know that fat can be 9.4 kcal per gram instead of just 9 (Kenney, Wilmore, & Costill, 2011). Harcombe (2011) argues that human fat tissue is 87% lipid, which would bring the calories to 3,555 kcal (454 x 9 x 87/100). She also cites the work of Bozenraad (1911), who also found fat in humans to be 72%. Even so, Hall, and Chow (2013) demonstrated that this rule does not take into account the dynamic changes in energy balance.

If counting calories is not your preference, you can opt for using your fists as a way to measure your portions: One fist-size portion of protein, two fists for fruits and vegetables, and one fist for starch.

Exercise:
How much exercise do you need? Minimum requirements according the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2011) are 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, two sessions of eight to ten resistance training (strength) exercises, 20 to 30 minutes of flexibility (stretching), and 60 minutes of neuromuscular training (balance and agility) per week. These guidelines may be overwhelming but just like the diet; they should be implemented progressively and appropriately to your level.

Is low-intensity cardio better for fat loss? Not really. Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise is considered to burn mostly fat but it does not necessarily affect the total calories expended for the same amount of time exercised. As a result you should aim to exercise at least at a moderate level to maximize burning fat. As a suggestion, on a scale from 1 (sitting on a couch) to 10 (about to throw up), with 4 being a leisurely walk, you should be around a 6 or 7.
We will have more insights on how to plan your resistance training in the coming weeks. In the meantime, feel free to ask us any questions on our Facebook page.

References:
American College of Sports Medicine (2011). Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(7), 1334-1359.

Harcombe, Z. (2011). 1 lb does not equal 3,500 calories. Retrieved from http://www.zoeharcombe.com/standalone/1lb-does-not-equal-3500-calories/

Kenny, L. W., Wilmore, J. H., & Costill, D. L. (2011). Physiology of sport and exercise (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Hall, K. D., & Chow, C. C. (2013). Why is the 3500 kcal per pound weight loss rule wrong? International Journal of Obesity, 37(12), 1614-1615.

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Why Do We Get Fat? Part 1

Why Do We Get Fat? Part 1

Understanding Weight-loss

What should I do to lose weight? How do I get rid of my arm fat? How do I get my lower abs to show? Do diets work? These and many other similar questions are in the minds of many of my clients but also of people in most westernized cultures.

Why do we get fat?
The answer we commonly hear is that we eat too much and do not exercise enough. Although partially true, this simplistic view cannot explain why 70% of men and 64% of women. are overweight or obese among adults in the U.S. (data from the World Obesity Organization).

Overweight Obesity male

Overweight Obesity females

Genetics:

There are some hereditary factors that play a role. Some people are more predispose to gain weight than others depending on your family history and ethnicity. However, genetics account for only about 25% of hereditary fat mass (Bouchard, 1993). Even if obesity runs in your family, it does not have to be your destiny.

Psychological factors:

There are several eating disorders that push people to overeat. Furthermore, emotional or psychological problems can arise from being overweight or obese making it harder to overcome mental barriers to find motivation to eat healthy and exercise. In certain cases professional counseling may be advised to overcome psychological barriers and emotional traumas. 

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How To Plan Your Exercise

How To Plan Your Exercise

Happy President's Day

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe" 

- Abraham Lincoln

The quote by President Lincoln is one of my favorites because it gives the sense of how important preparation can be. When it comes to exercise, preparation can be the difference between getting those workouts in this week or not at all.

Here are some easy-to-follow tips to make sure you fit in all the exercise you need.

exercise-busy-schedule-11. Use your calendar. Schedule exercise as if it were a doctor's appointment. The American College of Sports Medicine coined the phrase "Exercise is Medicine®", this is how seriously it should be taken. Keeping your exercise routine may help you not have to make doctor's appointments.  

2. Pick a time you are most likely to respect. If you typically go out for drinks after work or have long days, you should think of scheduling an exercise session in the morning. If fitting in 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity during any given day in the week seems utopian, schedule only three to five minutes of a couple of quick exercises Monday through Friday, but aim for a longer workout on the weekend. 

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Get Your Loved One To Exercise With You

Get Your Loved One To Exercise With You

How to get a loved one to exercise with you?

It is Valentine's Day weekend, which means chocolate and flowers for some, or the NBA All-star weekend for others. Exercise is part of my life. Being active and eating healthy has been my lifestyle for many years, and it is not going to change any time soon. Therefore it is important to me for my partner to also be active and lead a healthy lifestyle. However, what happens when you fall in love with someone who has very different priorities than doing pull-ups and eating kale on a daily basis?
The short answer is that there is not much you can do about it. Forcing someone to choose a salad over nachos at a restaurant will most likely be met with rejection from your partner and then frustration on your side.

However, here are some of my suggestions:

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