5 Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You To Know

How many of you have a personal trainer? I’m actually a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. I got certified in 2010 and re-certified last year with a focus on fitness assessment. Fitness and health are my passion, clearly…hence my blog!

I wanted to share with you all a few things we personal trainers want you to know when you’re in sessions with us. Some of them you may do already or know about already, and some you may not. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are!

Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You To Know

We hate the word “tone.” “Toning up” doesn’t exist. What people mean when they say they want to be tone is that they want to lose body fat so you can see more muscle. Muscle tone actually refers to whether a muscle is at rest or contracted. From my experience, it seems women use this phrase more, and don’t want to refer to it as building muscle, but that’s what it is! Ladies, don’t be afraid of admitting you want to add muscle and get lean…nothing wrong with that! You won’t “look like a man” I promise.

You need to do the work outside of sessions with us. Just coming to 1 or 2 sessions per week with us won’t make much of a difference. You also need to be doing something those other 5-6 days a week. If you’re not sure how to plan a weekly workout schedule, just ask us! Which leads me to my next point…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we love answering them! If you’re not sure what a certain exercise is for or how it will benefit you, don’t be afraid to us. We love to answer questions and start talking about muscles and science-y stuff :-P If we don’t know the answer to a question, we also love doing the research. We are here to help and will gladly find out as much as we can for you.

If something hurts, even a tiny twinge, speak up. If you’re doing a bench press and your shoulder hurts a little, tell us! Don’t wait. We know modifications for every exercise and can modify things depending on what hurts or bothers you. Don’t feel annoying by asking us to do this.

Confidence is key. Be confident when you’re lifting! I can’t tell you how many times I give a client a weight and they say “I can’t do that!” and they end up going through 3 sets no problem. Be confident and you can do it. A lot of it is mental. Which is what we are here for as well, to give you coaching cues and make you confident as you’re lifting. So when you’re lifting alone, remember those cues. When I lift, mentally I am telling myself things like, “Drive it up!” “Chest up shoulders back” “Explode!” Try it – it really helps.

Do you have a personal trainer or work out alone? Do you use mental phrases to help you?

What’s one question you’d like to ask a personal trainer? (hint: might have a Twitter chat on this soon!)


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5 Tips For Exercising Outside

I recently wrote a post about a couple of ways to be active outdoors now that it’s starting to get warmer. Well, I wanted to follow up that post with a few tips on easing back into your warm weather routine. If you’re someone who loves to exercise outside, you’re probably eager to get back out there…I certainly am! But here are a few things to keep in mind as the weather starts to get warmer:

Tips For Exercising Outside
Photo Credit: -Reji via Compfight cc

Start slow. I know you just want to put on your sneakers and run for hours, but don’t! You risk injuring yourself and then being out of commission and missing out on all the awesome weather. If you didn’t run much this winter (cough Me cough), start slow. Perhaps start by running for time instead of miles, and work on building your base again. This way, you’ll gradually build up to where you used to be, and you avoid annoying injuries like shin splints.

Remember to wear sunscreen. I really need to be better about this as well. We all need to remember to put on sunscreen when we head outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s only 50-60 degrees, the sun is still beating on your face! Get one of those sprays that’s specifically for sports and keep it by the door so you remember it on your way out. I know Saucony makes some SPF protecting clothing…but I wonder if they actually work?

Get new sneakers. Check your sneakers and see if they are worn. Spring time is the perfect time to invest in a new pair of sneakers, because you will start using them a lot more! General rule of thumb on sneakers is 300-500 miles or around 3 months. If your treads are pretty worn, it’s time for a new pair.

Keep going to the gym. “What? I thought you want us to go outside!” Yes, I want to exercise outdoors as much as you do, but don’t forget about strength training! I know you’ve been cooped up at the gym all winter, but keep that in your routine. Make sure to incorporate strength training at least two times a week in order to keep your body strong and avoid injuries.

Hydrate and choose ideal times. Here are some of my tips for running in warmer weather, but in general, remember to stay hydrated! As it gets warmer out, you will sweat more. Choose good times to run, like early morning or evening as opposed to noon (probably more applicable in the summer). Sometimes you just can’t, and will need to run at noon (I have before), so make sure to hydrate AND wear that SPF! If you know you are running tomorrow and it will be hot, drink a ton of water the day before.

What would you add to this list?

Do you run/exercise outside throughout the winter? Good for you!


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Living At Home

I moved back home with my parents after college. I didn’t have any real job prospects, and knew this would be the best way to save money. I mean, it was done begrudgingly. When I was in college I imagined I’d be moving out after graduation and living on my own…I wish!

Currently, I’m still living with them…but now I don’t mind it so much. A couple of my friends live with their parents as well, which has made it easier to be in town. It really is a good way to save money, and I am really close with my family so I don’t have many complaints.

But I have heard comments from others along the lines of “You’re 25 years old why are you still living at home?” And that sucks.

Did you know a record 21.6 million “Millennials” are living back with their parents? Obviously it is not an ideal situation, but you gotta do what you gotta do when the economy is down. I hate when people assume “living at home” means you’re a lazy bum who doesn’t work. I actually have a job, and am an entrepreneur…my choice lies in that I want to save my money for my not-so-distant wedding and to buy a house instead of rent. One of my friends said, “The thought of paying rent makes me sick.”

I’d love to live in my own place, set my own rules, be free to do whatever…and that will come soon. And yes, sometimes it’s hard seeing how other people are buying houses or making these big moves, which can lead to some insecurity. But for now, it is nice to have someone to take turns with in terms of cooking dinner. And I always have a workout or running buddy. Or just someone to hang out with and go shopping with.

So why do some people judge so much? I mean, in other cultures (such as my own, I was born in Paraguay), people don’t leave their homes until they get married!

Not really sure where this post led me, but it was good to rant a little bit. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Did you/do you live at home after college? What was your experience like?

What do you think about college students moving back in with their parents?


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Eat Your Beans

So today I posted my “Health & Fitness Links” and one of them was about how eating beans can help you lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol

A team of researchers from the U.S. and Canada analyzed 26 randomized-controlled studies that included a total of 1,037 people, and found an association between consuming at least one serving a day of dietary pulses, or legumes — which includes chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans — and 5 percent decreased levels of LDL cholesterol over a median follow-up period of six weeks. (One serving of dietary pulses is equal to about 3/4 of a cup.)

I don’t know about you, but I love beans. Any kind. I can easily eat them every day. Which is why I am writing this post…to throw out some ideas on how to get your serving of beans per day. Sure, you could scoop out a serving and eat it with dinner, but there are a lot of great recipes that include beans! Here are a few I have regularly (bear with me and my not so great food photography):

Add beans to your salad

My favorite salad combo is mixed greens, tuna, strawberries and chickpeas. I have also used white/canellini beans, and loved the combo with my tuna cakes pictured below.

Tuna Cakes


Experiment with different types of beans in your salad and see what you like best. I think chickpeas are probably the best. Here are a few other tips to make a better salad ;)

You can also make sandwiches or wraps that include beans. I like a turkey wrap with hummus, avocado and chickpeas.

Make tacos or burritos

Who doesn’t love tacos or burritos? I mean…that’s why I go to Chipotle like once a week. Chicken burrito bowl? Yummmmmmm.


But you can easily re-create this at home. I wrote up a taco salad recipe once and it is still something in our dinner rotation. Whether you make a burrito or a bowl, throw in your favorite kind of beans. Making a taco salad or burrito once a week is a great way to get in your bean servings!

Chili or lentil soup

Now that it’s getting warmer out, you may not want soup, but it’s still delicious. My mom makes great lentil soup with melted cheese in it…so good. You can also whip up your favorite chili recipe. I’ve also made vegetable soup with beans in it, and sliced up avocado and crumbled pita chips in it. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of any of these ideas, but I’ll make sure to do that next time my mom makes her famous lentil soup!

Black bean burgers

I have not tried this but am putting it on this list because I really want to try it. I would like to make my own but I’m not sure how much time it will take. Perhaps I’ll try the frozen variety first? Any suggestions?

Black Bean Burger

Here’s a recipe from the Tone It Up community (picture above goes with this recipe):

1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 15.5 oz. can or 1 cup cooked black beans
2 tablespoons of water
3/4 cup of wheat germ (to make it gluten free I used cooked quinoa- it didn’t stick together as well so I cooked it on a pan rather than a grill, as it fell through the grill!)

From quickly reading this, I’m thinking maybe adding eggs would help make it stick together too? Once it gets warmer out and I start grilling, I’ll try this out and keep you posted!

So there you have it…a few ways to add in beans to your routine to help lower that LDL cholesterol. I’m sure these aren’t mind-blowing tips but still some reminders for quick meals you can make!

Have you tried making black bean burgers?

What do you order at Chipotle?


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Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

So it was in the 70s yesterday. Then dropped back down to 30s last night. What??!!? Will it ever be spring??

I found a lot of great info for you this week…so if you’re bored at your desk today, make sure to read some of these!

What is your favorite meatless meal? Please share!


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Boston Strong


I can’t believe it’s been one year since the tragic events that unfolded at the Boston Marathon last year.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I found out. 

I was walking out of where I had just gotten my taxes done (yeah I waited until the very last day…) when my phone started getting texts from friends asking if I had seen the news. They know I love running and have ran marathons myself. I turned on the radio in the car, and initially didn’t think it was as big as it ended up being. I thought, “Wow I hope runners are still able to cross the finish line.”

Once I got home I realized how serious the situation was.

I’ve written about why I love the running community, and it was never more apparent than in the days after the Boston Marathon. So many stories of heroes and people helping others emerged. It showed that you can still have faith in humanity, even after the most tragic events.

My mom and I are going to watch the marathon this year. I can’t wait to see if live and cheer on the runners. It will be an amazing day, filled with what makes the running community (runners and spectators alike) amazing. 

If you will be running, let me know! I’d love to look out for you. Once I make my posters, I’ll post a picture in case anyone wants to keep an eye out for us.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which is just so true:



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Squat Variations

We all know squats are a great lower body exercise, but did you know there are a ton of variations you can do? You can switch it up so you don’t get bored, but also so you target different muscle groups. Knowing variations also helps if you are lacking certain equipment.

Types Of SquatsPhoto Credit: Malingering via Compfight cc

Barbell Back Squat


This is the most known. I love barbell back squats. It does take some practice though, so make sure if it’s your first time trying it you ask a personal trainer at your gym for help. You also don’t need to squat all the way down. Go as low as you can while keeping good form. If you can’t get down to 90 degrees, work on mobility and flexibility (usually in the hips). You can also place weight plates underneath your heels to help you squat down a bit lower.

Dumbbell Squat

Dumbbell Squats

This is a great alternative to the barbell squat if you don’t have a barbell or if you don’t feel comfortable trying it yet. Where you want to place the dumbbells depends on you. You can have them like this photo does, or you can rest them on your shoulders. I actually prefer the latter.

Sumo Squat

sumoYou can do this with a dumbbell or with a barbell. This type of squat will target a few different muscles as well, such as the adductors (inner thighs), and place a bit more emphasis on your glutes.

Barbell Front Squat


You may have seen another variation of this, where elbows are out in front and the bar is in your hands, but I think this one is a bit easier for most people. With the other pose, you need a good amount of wrist flexibility. For this one, just make sure to place the bar on the meaty part of your front shoulders. The first few times you may get a bruise there – I have before!

Also, if you have a tough time getting low with back squats, try front squats! The way the bar is placed in the front allows you to have a bit more hip/lower back mobility, and have the ability to squat a bit lower. Again, if it’s your first time doing this, have a trainer assist you.

Overhead Squat


I would only suggest this variation if you have good shoulder mobility. This exercise will challenge your whole body, as a lot of core strength is involved to balance the barbell over your head! This lift is a bit trickier, so please have a trainer with you the first time to give you the proper cues! One thing to remember always is to keep your core tight.

Goblet Squat


You can do this with either a dumbbell or a kettlebell. Make sure to keep the dumbbell or kettlebell tucked right into your chest. As always, don’t lower yourself past where you’re able to. Your back should never be rounded with any of these squats. I like doing these when I’m going to do some higher reps of squats, and I love doing low reps of barbell back squats to work on my strength.

Bulgarian Split Squats


These don’t look traditional squats, but they are still an amazing lower body workout. These will really target your glutes and quads. If these are too challenging for you, do traditional split squats (both feet on the floor). Don’t worry about adding weight at first. Try them bodyweight and go from there (since it can be tricky to balance at first).

General Tips

  • Keep your core tight during the whole exercise.
  • Think chest up, shoulders back. This will help you have good form and not round your back.
  • Grip the bar or dumbbells hard, and as one of my favorite trainers, Tony Gentilcore says, “melt the bar in your hands.”
  • Don’t force it. Don’t go lower than you’re comfortable.
  • Sit back into your heels when squatting. Go down slow, then drive it up with power.

Which of these squat variations do you do on a regular basis? Which ones haven’t you tried?


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Spring Back Into Fitness!

It’s finally spring! This winter has been tough (at least here in NJ), so I’m really excited that it’s warm out again.

If you’re anything like me, cold, dreary, dark winter days means that you’re less motivated to work out. It’s hard to get outside and run in the cold (unless you’re training for something and NEED to be out there). It’s also hard to be motivated to go to the gym when you get out of work and it’s already dark out.

But those days are over! Warm days doesn’t just had to mean running or walking outside though. There are plenty of ways to exercise outdoors. Here are a couple of my ideas:

Ways To Be Active Outdoors

  • Go for a hike. Explore some new trails in your area or use it as an excuse for a little day trip. You can choose whether you want a flat trail or something more challenging. Great way to get in some exercise and be out in the great outdoors.
  • Go biking. I just found this park in my area (where I ran my most recent 5K) that has bike rentals on their premises. I definitely want to go and bike around the estate. If you don’t have a bike, this is perfect for you! If you do have a bike, grab a friend and go for a ride in your town or in a park. Find a local bike race and try something competitive (if that’s your thing). Or just go to the beach and go for a peaceful ride.
  • Go kayaking. I actually have never done this but want to hit up the Delaware Water Gap this summer and try it out. Talk about an upper body workout! If you want something more relaxing, try tubing or rafting with some friends. Someone on Twitter recommended to me to try out rafting with a few cold ones and lounging with friends…okay, this isn’t really going to burn many calories or anything but sometimes that’s okay! ;)
  • Try a trapeze class. This is another thing that’s on my bucket list. I am kind of afraid of class but think this would be really fun. Not sure if I have the upper body strength for it but we’ll see!
  • Go for a swim. If you love lounging by the pool in the summer, take advantage of the water and go for a swim. Swimming is a full body exercise and burns mega-calories. Whether you’re at the pool or by the beach, get in the water! Or you can do other water activities, like playing pool basketball, or throwing around a ball in the ocean with a friend. That’s always a workout for me because I never can catch the ball!
  • Play tennis. Or soccer. Or lacrosse. Try a new sport! I love going to play tennis with my mom, even if I can only last for 15 minutes. Somehow I can run 26. miles but a few minutes of sprinting around a tennis court kills me. If you don’t have tennis rackets, go out and play soccer or basketball with friends.

These are only a few ways to get active outside. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and get out there! Also, if you are planning on ramping up your running now that it’s warmer, here’s my one tip for you: Start slow. Don’t get over-enthusiastic and end up with an injury because you did too much too soon!

What are your favorite things to do outside?

What would you add to this list?


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Motivational Monday!

So happy it will be in the mid 70s today! Love that it is finally getting consistently warm. Hopefully it stays that way next week when my mom and I will be in Boston to watch the marathon! Anyone running or will be there too?

Anyway, I found this quote and print on Etsy and love it:

eleanor roosevelt quote

How often do we let other people’s comments and opinions get to us? It actually happened to me a few times this weekend and I had to talk myself out of it. It sucks and it’s hard not to care, but at the end of the day, you’re doing what is best for you, or going after things that you want…no need to have to justify that to anyone!

Have you let someone’s comments get in your head recently? How did you move past it?


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3 Minute Ab Workout!

With abs, we tend to focus on reps. We do several reps of an exercise, then move onto another. But when was the last time you did some isometric holds? Trust me, these holds will get your abs burning as well!

Here’s the workout:

Ab WorkoutPhoto Credit: Arya Ziai via Compfight cc

1 set of this is only 3 minutes, but your abs will be shaking. Do it either once, or add on 2-3 extra sets depending on how you feel. For me, reverse planks are the toughest! I need to work more on my core.

What is your most challenging core exercise?

Are you able to do a handstand? I wish!


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