7 Fitness Tips to Make your Gym Time Count

April 8, 2011 By: afeldman 5 Comments

Half the battle of an exercise program is walking into the gym, but what happens once we are there?  How do we ensure that our 45 minutes of gym time is spent wisely?  These following simple fitness tips will keep your exercise program effective and your healthy lifestyle on track.

Fitness Tips

Try out these fitness tips during your next workout to get the most out of it.

1. Try The Talk Test – The talk test is a good way to gauge if you are working hard enough.  It can be used for cardio-vascular exercise or weight training.  The talk test refers to how well you can speak during a workout.  If you are able to hold a full conversation with someone during the exercise, then you should be working harder.  However, if you’re huffing and puffing so much that you’re not able to answer simple yes/no questions, then you may be pushing it too much.  At the same time, you should not have enough energy in the tank to sing your ABCs while you are exercising.  The trick is finding that healthy medium and you may have to adjust your routine slightly a few times before finding the perfect pace.

2. Keep Conversations to a Minimum – The gym is a great place to make and run into friends, but try to save the catch-up conversations until after the workout.  Most of your workout should be spent in your target heart rate zone, so be sure to focus on your exercise and not on the chitchatting.  This is why I wear headphones in the gym, it keeps me focused on my workout so I am getting the most out of it, but do whatever works for you.

3. Superset Exercises- Do you ever find yourself getting lost in thoughts during a break between exercises?  This leads to losing track of time and before you know it, you have rested too long.  A good way to stop the daydreaming between exercises is to superset.  This means that perform two of your exercises back to back.  Pick two routines that work different muscles like an abdominal crunch and the chest press machine.  Perform a set of chest presses and immediately drop to the floor to do your set of crunches.  Continue to go back and forth between exercises until you have finished your sets.

4. Find a Friend – It’s hard enough to walk into the gym every week, let alone push a workout to higher intensities.  To kill those two birds with one stone, find a workout buddy.  This could be someone from work, an old acquaintance or even a family member.  Make sure that it is someone that you can push and will do the same for you in return.  This person will give you the motivation to leave the house and get to the gym.  Going through exercises together will help that hour move a lot faster.

5. Write it down – Do you find yourself forgetting what weights you should use on certain exercises?  Start recording your numbers.  I carry a little notebook with me from one exercise to the next.  By doing this, you can make sure that your body is continuously challenged and making progress.  If you wrote that you chest pressed a certain weight ten times in the last workout, try doing 11 this time and 12 next.  It comes in handy for cardio as well.  If you jot down the distances that you reach each cardio session, then you can aim for improvement for the next time.  For example, if your journal says that you did 3 miles in 30 minutes for your last cardio session, make it your goal to reach 3 miles in 29 and a half minutes.  If you continue to set goals and constantly improve yourself, reaching your fitness goals will not plateau easily.

6. Leave the phone in the locker – Cell phones are very technologically advanced in giving you the ability to purchase tickets to shows, check the weather, get directions and write emails, but they are a huge distraction at the gym.  Unless you are expecting an important call, leave it in the locker.  Too many people spend their time in the gym texting friends and playing games on their phone which is obviously not very conducive to getting an effective workout.  You’ll have a much better workout without the phone.  If you need it for music purposes, turn off the other features and stay disciplined.

7. Visualize – Athletes at the elite level have mastered the art of visualization.  Before a competition or a practice, they go through mental exercises to prep themselves up for their event.  I’m not saying you need to do this on the same level as a star quarterback, but it can really help you reach better levels of fitness if you visualize before and during exercise.  You can do this by focusing the negative energy from a bad day at work into your exercises or you can find motivation by creating a mental picture of where you see yourself in 6 months.  Personally, before each exercise I picture everything that makes me angry and use that to drive myself through an intense workout.  I know others who meditate before each workout for 5-10 minutes and other people make motivating playlists to stay energized on the treadmill.  Once again, find and do what works for you.

Start incorporating some of these into your gym time and your progress and dedication will reach new levels.


Fitness Tips: Purchasing Exercise Equipment

April 6, 2011 By: afeldman 14 Comments

When it comes to buying products in the fitness marketplace, there are many choices.  It can be overwhelming!  There are new fitness gadgets on the shelves every month.  A lot of these items can be seen on infomercials or you’ll hear about these latest “fitness trends” when you’re at the gym.  The question is: How can you tell if a product is reliable or if it is just a fad?  I’ve come up with a little acronym that I would like to share; “N.O.F.I.T.”  Each letter asks a question related to the product to see if it’s a good fit for your fitness routine.  Next time you see something in the stores or in commercials, ask yourself these questions to decide its value.

N: Is it a Necessity?

The first question to ask is: Do you actually need this product?  When you get into shopping mode almost any purchase can be rationalized, but think about your fitness.  Will everything improve at a faster rate if you use this product?  Will all of your progress stop if you do not make this purchase?  You may believe that you need this new workout DVD series until you truly stop to think about whether it really will fix all of your problems.  The ultimate question is this: Will the product move you any closer to your fitness goals compared with what you’re able to do without it?

O: Is it a One Hit Wonder?

Thigh Master

Some pieces of equipment can be considered a "one hit wonder" and will not always stay on the fitness market.

So, you don’t necessarily need the product, but you still want it because it’s the new craze.  A new question asks: Will this product still be around tomorrow?  Think about some of the fitness trends from the 90’s such as the electronic ab belt, the thigh master or the sauna apparatus that supposedly melts fat.  If you happen to know of these products, then you are aware of their short lived popularity followed by their disappearance from the marketplace.  If you’re wondering how you missed these products, there is a reason; they were here one day and gone the next.  These items did not return the results they promised.  Before you purchase your product, think about if it could be just another one hit wonder.

F: Is it used by Friends?

I’m not talking about the cast of the popular show.  I’m referring to people in your social circles.  Whether they are school mates, neighbors, coworkers or acquaintances, they could be your best sources of information.  Ask any friends who may have used the product whether it worked for them and if it was worth the purchase.

I: Is it Infomercial Magnified?

Ab Belt

It's important to carefully evaluate whether a piece of equipment can be an essential part of your fitness routine.

To understand infomercial magnification, think of the most repetitive infomercials you see on late night TV.  They promise you the moon and all the stars to go along with it.  If you order in the next 10 minutes, they throw in little extras.  These commercials show happy actors portrayed as customers using the product to convince you of its value.  When you add up all these commercial tactics, you get an aggressive sales pitch.  Look for hints of this sales pitch when you are shopping for fitness merchandise.  Read the box or descriptions on the website and look for some of those same commercial tactics.  When a product is “guaranteed to give you the hips you have always wanted,” it should be an instant turn off because at this point, the advertiser is only trying to tell you what you want to hear.

T: Is it Too Good to be True?

This is the last question and it can also be tied into the others.  Are your expectations of this product too good to be true?  If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  Whether your expectations came from listening to others or from the website itself, a product will not completely cure all of your problems.  Even a good piece of fitness equipment is not a magic fix; it is a tool that will help you achieve your goals.  Remind yourself to be realistic when you are looking for something new to get over that fitness plateau.  A fitness DVD will not magically whip you into shape; it is your drive and commitment to a healthy lifestyle that does the trick.  If you shop wisely, a new product might show you some new tricks to help.

Fitness for Weight Loss: Spicing Up Your Cardio

March 30, 2011 By: afeldman 3 Comments

Make the most of your treadmill time for effective weight loss.

Let’s face it, cardio exercise can be very boring, especially in the winter season when a lot of us are forced to be inside during our weight loss efforts. So what do most of us do? We get comfortable walking at a nice easy pace on the treadmill while watching our favorite television program or reading a magazine.

There’s a problem with this. If you only have a half hour to do your cardio session in the gym, then you need to use that time wisely. If you’re able to read a book while doing cardio, then you are not getting the bang for your buck. With a half hour of cardio, you have the potential to burn 300-400 calories but if you’re walking at a nice slow pace, then you’re in the 100-200 calorie range…that’s a big difference. Over a month’s time, that can add up to a 7000 calorie difference, which is 2 pounds! May not sound like much, but over the course of a year, that adds up to 24 pounds. So, what I would like to do is take you out of that comfort zone and get you into that 300-400 calorie range.

Here are three, 30 minute routines that I give clients to use on the treadmill. These can also be done on an elliptical using the resistance level as an incline. You will burn extra calories and the time will pass a little faster.

You will be altering the INCLINE and SPEED settings on the treadmill for these 3 routines

Routine 1              Speed Intervals

The incline setting will remain at 0 for this, but the speed will be changing frequently.

A medium pace is a comfortable walking or jogging pace, but you should still be working.

A fast pace is a pace that should be relatively hard to maintain. The numbers will be different for everyone. If your medium pace is a 2.5mph walk, then try a 3.5 walk. If you are jogging at 6.0 for the medium pace, then try 7.5 for your fast pace.

3 minutes Warm-up (Moderate walking pace)
1 minute Fast
2 minutes Medium
*Run through this 3 minute interval 8-10 times total
3 minutes Cool Down (back to that moderate walking pace) =
30-36 minutes of cardio

Routine 2              The Long Hill

You will maintain the same speed throughout this workout but the incline level of the treadmill will change frequently.

Use the same pace that you would use for a medium level, like in the speed interval workout. If you were comfortable with a 5.0 jog, use that. If you were comfortable with a 3.5 walk, use that. It will get harder as the incline gets higher, so do not get too crazy with speed at the beginning.

2 minutes Warm-up, moderate walking pace on a flat treadmill
After 2 minutes raise the incline up 1-2%
Every 2 minutes, raise the incline up 1-2% until you have totaled 12 minutes on the treadmill
At 12 minutes, lower the incline 1-2% and repeat every 2 minutes until you have reached 20 minutes total
At 20 minutes, Raise the incline 1-3% and repeat every minute until you reach 25 minutes
At 25 minutes bring the incline down by 5-10%
At 27 minutes, bring the incline to 0 and cool down for 3 minutes by continuing a moderate walking pace.

*If you choose to add on time, 1-2 minutes can be added to each stage.

Routine 3              Hill Intervals

This routine is like the speed intervals, but uses hills instead. For this, the speed will stay the same and the incline level will be changing.  Find that comfortable pace that still forces you to work a little bit when the treadmill is set at flat. For some, this may be a speed walk at 3.5 mph. For others, this may be a jog at 6.0 mph and for the advanced, this may be 7.0-7.5 mph.

3 minutes Warm-up
1 minute Flat
2 minutes Hill (4%-8% incline)
*Run through this 3 minute interval 8 times total
3 minutes Cool down

For more fitness tips and resources, visit Shane Diet Resorts’ adult weight loss program’s website.

Weight Loss and Nutrition Tips: Eat Nuts!

March 25, 2011 By: consultant 11 Comments

Going Nuts?  Me too.

Going to EAT nuts, that is.  A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who eat nuts twice per week have a reduced chance of becoming overweight or obese compared to women who do not eat nuts.  Watch out, almonds.  Here I come.

Mixed Nuts

Add some nuts to your diet to prevent excess weight gain!

But it’s not just almonds that have healthy lifestyle benefits.  Walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts (filberts), and pistachios come packed with vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, selenium, copper, and magnesium.  And let’s not forget our faithful peanut.  As my personal favorite legume, peanuts are a good source of B vitamins and help make peanut butter mighty tasty.

So why exactly do nuts help to prevent excess weight gain?  Though some tend to steer away from these crunchy, delicious foods, the unsaturated fat in nuts is actually quite beneficial.  Fat is necessary for the body to absorb certain vitamins and minerals – notably vitamins A, D, E, and K – and these are needed for proper metabolism.   Some scientists also believe that the human body is not necessarily able to process the entire nut (think fiber and indigestible plant material), which results in the absorption of fewer calories.

So add some chopped walnuts to your morning oatmeal.  Grab a handful of almonds for a quick, filling snack.  Or treat yourself to a few apple slices topped with a creamy swirl of peanut butter.  You’ll be getting some great vitamins and minerals as well as enjoying a tasty treat.  Who doesn’t go nuts every now and then?

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