TR…What? How TRX Training can benefit YOU!

This past year, after seeing this bright yellow and black suspension trainer highlighted at multiple trade shows and raved by top trainers, I finally decided to give it a try and see what all the hype was about.

What is TRX? Born in the Navy SEALS, Suspension Training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. It requires the use of the TRX® Suspension Trainer™, a highly portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to enable hundreds of exercises for every fitness goal.

I got certified, with the intention of using it as something in my toolbox for in-home personal training, but soon realized that it would change the way I train FOREVER. Does it look weird? Yes. Is it hard to imagine this suspension trainer can hold my entire body weight? Yes, but get over it. If you want the best core workout and most versatile piece of equipment, stop what you are doing immediately and sign-up for TRX classes beginning in January. Benefits?


•Get a fast, effective total body workout

•Benefits people of ALL fitness levels (pro athletes to seniors)

•Can be set-up anywhere (gym, home, road, outside)


How is TRX training different at Allegro Coaching?

We strive for safety in every workout and realize how important it is to cater to every fitness level, especially the beginner. Learn proper set-up, hand position, foot position and progressions at the start of every class. We take it further and mix in intervals of cardio off the TRX, body weight drills and core to make it a fun, fat-blasting workout!


Still not convinced? Check out this video to see how it can transform your body! (Used by Drew Brees, the US Women’s Soccer Team & my mentor, Todd Durkin)


Beat the Bulge- Holiday Must Do Tips

Did you know the average weight gain is only 1-2 lbs. over the 7-week holiday? So what’s the problem with an extra pound? The problem is, a year later, the vast majority of us have not removed that pound. Continue this pattern over 30 or 40 holiday seasons and the problem becomes—quite literally—huge.

So how are we supposed to get through the holidays without gaining weight? Here are eight effective ways to get yourself ready to beat the holiday bulge.

Buy clothes that fit right now. A new addition to your wardrobe in a size that shows off your summer body can be all you need to prevent those extra pounds from creeping on. So before you begin the festivities, go buy yourself something perfect to wear to your parties and hang it someplace visible, so it serves as a constant reminder.

Write it down. The truth is, if we would write down the not-so-perfect meals and treats, we could find a way to compensate for them, at least a bit. For example, you have a peppermint brownie in the break room at work, which you know is carbohydrates and fat. Eat one less portion of carbohydrate and one less portion of fat for your dinner. It’s not ideal, but it’ll help. Or perhaps you couldn’t resist Mom’s homemade scones for breakfast. You could plan on an extra 20 or 30 minutes of your workout tonight. The point is, if we write it down, and do the math, we can lessen the damage.

Keep exercising. One of my slowest times of year is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I get lots of cancellations or conflicts with parties or holiday to-do lists. It’s hard to remain balanced when you have a million things to do and gifts to buy. Yet the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stay focused on your fitness goals and get your workout in.

Eat before parties. Most holiday parties don’t focus on low-fat, low-calorie refreshments, so unless you’re organizing the event, the best damage control is to show up with a full tummy. You’ll be a lot less likely to swim in mayonnaise dips and pigs in blankets if you’re full.

Get junk out of the house. The majority of people don’t get into their car at midnight, drive to the store, buy the ingredients for cookies, bake them, and then stay up to eat them. But if those homemade cookies are already on your kitchen counter, you better believe you’ll find a way to justify it. The secret is to get the garbage out of the house. Send it to work with your significant other, donate it to a bake sale, re-gift it to your 100-pound friend with the perfect metabolism, or just dump it in the trash.

Choose wisely and proportionally. Something occurs during a holiday meal. It’s like a Las Vegas buffet—we feel like we have to eat some of everything. We feel almost like those foods will never exist again, and this is our last meal on the planet. This year, why not try to eat only your favorites, as in two or three items, and keep the portions to the size of your palm? If you’re still hungry, try to fill up on veggies.

Don’t beat yourself up. We can only do our very best. Mentally beating yourself up will only make you feel worse, which never helped anyone get back to their fitness program. So if you happen to gain that 1 extra pound this holiday season, be part of the rare group who actually follows through with their New Year’s resolution and manages to shed it again.



Can Pilates improve your Sports Performance?

Last month, my friend and head baseball coach at Calvin College, John Sparks, asked me if I knew of a great yoga instructor he could hire. Unfortunately, that is one of the only classes I am not equipped to teach but I asked him what his intention was. His goal was to have his entire varsity baseball team take a class during the off season to improve their flexibility, range of motion and core strength. Ahhh, yes…sounds quite similar to my favorite workout: PILATES.

One of the most common questions I get from people is the different between yoga and Pilates. I am happy to explain but the best way to understand it is to take both and see which style you gravitate to with your personality and fitness goals. Both forms of exercises are called “Mind-Body”, which means they connect the mind to your physical movements, creating improved body awareness and thoughtfulness. In Pilates, we focus on breath work to set the tone for movements or repetiions. Some of the other key fundamentals of Pilates is stabilization, differentiation, flow and control. In a nutshell, though Pilates will help you get lean and long through your mid-section, reducing low back pain, releasing hip tightness and strengthening weaker glute muscles.

But then, as a former athlete, what was it that made me gravitate so much towards this form of exercise? I mean, I used to love running suicides and sweating from hours of defensive drills. How could this be used for athletes?

Well, not only did I have my best performance this fall at the Reed’s Lake Triathlon (with the least sport-specific training ever), but I started to do some research. Pilates has always been popular with dancers, but did you know that over 6,000 professional golfers and pro tennis players practice some form of Pilates during their off season? And these numbers keep increasing each year.

Pilates is not just for the beginner, the rehab patient or the woman. No, this can increase thoracic mobility to improve your golf swing and rotation, it can strengthen your hips and pelvis to create a more powerful baseball or tennis swing, and it most certainly can correct your specific muscle imbalances, which, isn’t that what we all truly need in the end? Creating that perfect balance of strength, flexibility and mobility to edge out our opponent? Well, if you are not convinced, I dare you to take our “Crunch” classes at the new Allegro Coaching Studio this year and see for yourself. The baseball team is just wrapping up a 6-week program and 100% of the athletes have already noticed a significant improvement in posture, core strength and flexibility. We’ll just have to wait and see if it pays off for winning the 2012 conference and edging out their opponent Hope College! Go Knights!

Power of Play

I am on my way back from sunny San Diego and enjoying a lovely 4-hour flight back home.  In the midst of traveling bliss, including long lines to pass through security, unhappy workers at Starbucks, and rude business men, I found a moment of pure bliss.  This beautiful little girl, about 18 months old, getting ready to board the aircraft for what looked like her first time and the biggest smile of anticipation from cheek to cheek.  Here she was, running circles around her mom with her new Minny Mouse suitcase and tennis shoes.  I couldn’t help but smiling.  It was just so contagious.  Was I missing my little Ava?  Of course, but it was so much more than that.  When did we lose our sense of play, excitement and carefree attitude?  Aren’t we supposed to be having a little bit of fun in this lifetime?

It was appropriate to ponder as I am coming off an incredible conference with mentor, Todd Durkin and fellow fitness professionals.  We talked a lot about creating fitness programs that are effective but fun.  And that is one of our core values at Allegro Coaching.  If it’s not fun, it ain’t gonna happen.  So, I ask you, when was the last time your workout was fun- made you smile, laugh out loud or teach you something new about your playful self?  If it’s been awhile, head on over to our new line-up of classes at the Allegro Coaching studio, opening in January 2012.  You may not be running circles around me with new tennis shoes, but you’ll definitely leave with a new skip in your step!