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Picnics Parties and Pulled Pork - How to Finish the Summer Strong

If you are among the select few that have managed to stick to their fitness regimen and goals through mid-summer, congratulations!

I've been asking my soul survivors, who are toughing it out in the gym, what they'd like to hear more about health-and-fitness-wise. Their inevitable answer: “I workout, but it's summer. What dBlog Picnico I eat?”

I understand that along with the summer comes lots of parties, and along with those parties, comes lots of food. For you to stick to your goals, I put together a fool-proof guide on how to still live life to the fullest, NOT the fullest pant size!

1. Factor in a cupcake

Here is the reality... you are most likely going to want to have a cookie, a piece of pie or a cupcake. Fine. Good. Enjoy it and then walk away from the dessert table. Quickly. “One and done” should be your motto when it comes to those sugary sweets.

2. Do you have to let it linger?

Please take note of where you are lingering at these types of gatherings. Someone may have you cornered, talking your ear off about how their son is going to Penn State on scholarship. It just may be the most boring ten minutes of your entire day, so you decide to do what all the rest of us would do... you eat to kill the boredom. While this person is gumming it up, you have already downed 32 chips and dip. Ever notice that when we are truly engaged in a great conversation, we aren't eating? So, when you see “My son is honor roll” strolling your way, do not place yourself near food, because you WILL eat.

3. The Hot and Not List

I can tell you this – there are five deadly sins and they are disguised as buns, dressings, deep fried, doughy, and deep-dish-anything. So, here are the top five best and worst foods to dive into when at a picnic:

The “Hot” List

1. Fruit salad

2. Corn on the cob

3. Grilled seafood

4. Chicken, Fruit & Veggie Skewers

5. Oven Roasted Chicken

The “Not” List

1. Burger with the works, aka saturated fat bomb

2. Pulled pork – seems like a good option... 1,658 grams of sodium per cup!? Hello, bloat.

3. Fried Chicken – the cousin to KFC. NO.

4. Potato salad – over 20 grams of fat per cup

5. Hot dogs – Just say no because we don’t really know what is in them. Weird.

4. BYOB – Bring your own Bowl... of salad... with lots of greens shoved in there.

Now that you brought the the goods, you have no excuse to eat the “bads.” Plus you were polite to bring something. Double win. High fives all around.

5. Going Hungry...?! Stop Right There.

We have all heard, “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry!” Well, the same goes for picnics, and BBQs and party adventures! Don't starve all day to pig out later! Balance people, balance. Recent studies revealed that when we skip breakfast with plans to pig out later, we eat 24% more than we should at that party! When we chose to skip breakfast and lunch to pig out later, we eat 60% more than we should! Lesson: Do not skip to save, it does not work

Take these tips, eat them up, and apply them next time you step out into summer fun!

*Kate is a personal trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Stay For the Summer!

If you are thinking about freezing or canceling your gym membership for the latter part of spring and through summer, stop right there. Keep reading to see why it is in your best interest to keep that membership and fitness regimen in full swing. 

Environmental control

If you can't take the heat...well, neither can we... let's not “can't take the heat together”

According to the New York Post and Farmer's Almanac, all of our wishes for the brutal cold to be long gone will unfortunately be answered, with an attitude problem. That is correct, the heat this summer will be oppressive and unbearable. If you plan to fight it, good luck. If you plan to wake up eaSummer Heat BlogImagerly and beat it, no chance. Even in the early hours of 7 or 8 AM the humidity alone may be too much to take for long cardiovascular based workouts. Why do we love the gym in the spring and summer? Well, among other reasons, there's air conditioning. That alone could seal the deal, not to mention water fountains, fans, and great looking people working out next to you. Humidity and traffic exhaust vs. clean crisp breathable air, it's as easy as surf and turf vs. lunch meat sandwiches. Lobster and steak, anyone?

Space, glorious space!

The squat rack is open.

We all can stop gossiping about that one person who does 14 sets on the leg press and text messages his girlfriend in-between each set. No need, now there are lots of stations open and awaiting your arrival! Finally, you can navigate your workout routine with ease, that is summer for you! Breathing room, elbow room, and better results!

Double Up

Indoor and outdoor navigators

If there is a beautiful day out there to workout, great! Hit the outdoors, but make your way back to the gym. Or perhaps a gym sandwich... run to the gym, strength train/circuit train, and then run home from the gym. Now that is a perfect combo. If you do not live within walking or running distance to your gym, plan to do a mini workout outside close to the gym (weather permitting), then go back inside to cool down, do some core moves and stretch.

Mud runs, Colors runs, 5K training, Sprint Triathlons

You scream, I scream, we all scream for... crazy insane adventure runs! With obstacles!

If you are looking for a new adventure this summer, sign up for a fun adventure run with your friends! Never tried a 5K? Now is your chance. However, if you are going to go on this new adventurous journey, you are going to need the gym to help get you there! Climbing over a wall... barreling through obstacles... now that is going to require some serious strength.

Looks like its time to turn up the heat... in the controlled, air conditioned, beautiful gym! Here we go...

*Kate is a personal trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Gym Atmosphere Is...Everything

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and felt less clean than you did before entering? You can smell the kitchen, in a bad way. The menu has remnants of mystery something-or-other plastered to the front. The wait staff doesn’t make eye contact. Looking around, you see just a few people in the place, and it is starting to make sense why. Or how about when you visit a salon? Everyone wants answers to the same questions. Is the salon clean? Is the staff friendly? Do they do a nice job?

describe the imageA gym is no different. Your gym’s atmosphere will play a huge part in your attendance and retention.  The atmosphere will either make you run to the doors and bust those babies down because you’re so excited to get there, or drag your feet each dreaded time, debating if you should even workout that day.


With iPods, smart phones, and modern technology, the camaraderie in gyms between members is not what it once was. There was a time when no one had headphones during their workouts, and people didn’t text their friends who weren’t even there at the gym about plans for the night. However, even today, walking into a gym and seeing people working out together, talking in-between sets, taking classes together, pushing, laughing and struggling together gives you that gym-family feel. That is where it’s at…like there’s a scene from “Cheers” going on in the basement of the gym and you have to be invited.


A little bit of nervous / anxious / excited tension is great for the gym. If you walk into a gym during a “high time” and do not feel challenged to have a great workout, you are either at your grandmother’s Silver Sneakers class, or at a very boring gym. I am not knocking Silver Sneakers, but rather emphasizing the importance of a challenging atmosphere. I honestly have to say, I love the people in the gym that are a little “too much.”  I appreciate people who are a bit over the top, energetic, excited, or even borderline crazy. It gives that needed balanced to the normal, calm, self-controlled members (this type is just as equally appreciated.)

Gym Staff

Gym employees are the backbone of the atmosphere.  Trainers, front desk workers, group fitness instructors, managers, and even owners all help set the mood. How do you feel when you first walk into your gym? Do you feel that the atmosphere is inviting and warm? Immediately you should have people saying “Hello.” From the front desk staff, to the trainer on the floor, to the owner you pass in the locker room. Individuals who are in the fitness industry should want to talk to you, get to know you, and build some type of relationship with you. If they aren’t this type of person, they should be behind a desk pounding away on a keyboard. Speaking on behalf trainers, it is pretty easy for us to catch a hint when someone is there just to block out the world, and wear the “beware of dog” mug on their face. To avoid the bite, we don’t even bark. (See what I did there?) But honestly, for the most part, members do want and appreciate some type of interaction. Trust me; we are more than happy to give it to you.  Gym people love people.

Cool Down: Conclusion

If you are in the hunt for a gym or perhaps you are looking to re-join a gym, pay attention to the atmosphere. Take a tour of the place. If the gym does offer a free day or week, take full advantage and make mental notes of how you feel during your visits. Your gym should be one of the best places on earth. Find yours and love it. 

*Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Hot and Hydrated

Summer is here and it is HOT. Hydration is very important and how you hydrate is even more important. Here are some helpful pointers to remember when it comes to drinking up and staying on track!Hydrating Blog resized 600

 What to look for when you are hydrating

  1. Remember that if you are not a super endurance athlete, water is sufficient for almost all forms of exercise. A huge bottle of Gatorade for a one hour workout? Not necessary. Also,  if there is a label on a bottle that has “water” or “hydrate” that does not necessarily mean that it is good for you! Check the additives as well as the sugars.
  2. If you are someone who drinks caffeine or takes a pre-workout drink, there are definitely some very good and bad options here. Lots of pre-workout mixes can be loaded with caffeine but also loaded with sugars. As far as energy drinks, some of them can contain as much as 50 plus grams of sugar per bottle! Yikes! Also, if you are drinking any form of caffeine you should be doubling the fluid ounces in water to the compared caffeinated beverage.
  3. Avoid: HFCS- high fructose corn syrup. If you find high fructose corn syrup on the label of anything you drink then you can be certain that it is poor quality and does not give your body what it needs. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and real nutrition will be absent when HFCS is present. Guess what else? HFCS has been found to contain toxic levels of mercury! As if a direct relationship with obesity was not enough to stop people from consuming HFCS, I’d hope potential mercury poisoning would do the trick!

 How much water do you need

You probably hear it all the time, “drink more water” and “drinking water will help you lose weight.”  That’s great…but just how much should you be drinking?
  1. The old rule of thumb is 8 glasses of water a day. That is not too far off. However, recent research shows that on average women should have around 2.5 liters a day and men should have roughly 3.5 liters. That is a general number. The consumption of water needs to be adjusted when dealing with the following: illness, pregnancy, exercise, warmer climate, and medical related issues.
  2. Drinking water will keep your body hydrated and will decrease you chances of overeating.
  3. The urine test never fails. “If it’s clear, you are in the clear. If it’s yellow, fix that.” Very profound and scientific.

The worst drinks in America

But just how bad can it be…? See for yourself:
  1. Worst Coffee: Bottled Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino: Can you believe that this drink has as many grams of sugar as 32 vanilla wafers!
  2. Worst Soda: Sunkist. I wasn’t aware that people even drank this anymore, but sure enough it is still around and has a whopping 84 grams of sugar per bottle. That’s more than 6 ice cream sandwiches!
  3. Worst Tea: SoBe Green Tea. 240 calories and 61 grams of sugar! Hall pass please… I’ll take the stairs! RUN!

 *Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Couples Who Should Not be Working Out Together

Have you ever noticed Signficant Others in your gym who need a smack upside the head?  Even worse, maybe you are part of one of these couples!

Trainer Kate's video tells you who these couples are...and we hope this isn't YOU!

*Kate Hodnik is a personal trainer at Elevations Health Club.describe the image


You Want Sexy Abs...and You Know It


You want sexy abs…and you know it.  What does it take?  Can you really show the world your six-pack? You’ve got time before summer arrives…so whatcha gonna do about it?

If your body fat isn’t low, your abs won’t show.Sexy Abs

So here is where it gets a little uncomfortable for some... what you eat is a direct reflection of how your body will look. “But Kate, I work out sooo hard… everyday!” That does not mean a darn thing unless your diet is cleaned up. If this was an easy thing to accomplish, everyone would be zipping up their jeans with ease, forgoing the dreaded pant tuck, and dancing around in tight little gym clothing with no jiggle. PAR-TAYYY! You have to eat clean and eat for nutrition if you want to see some progress in your midsection. This is the most important aspect in obtaining the body that you want - what you put into your mouth.

Spot reduction is as real as unicorn.

Doing endless repetitions of sit-ups will not make your belly shrink, just like doing 400 side leg raises will not make your hips smaller. I’ve tried, I’ve failed, and I am here to tell you to stop it with that. Working the abs, will strengthen and build the muscle…but seeing that muscle is a different ball game.

 Train the abs as you would any other muscle group.

To get a stronger back you would follow a back strength training program. To get stronger legs you are going to do the exact same. That is why we have included in this video a great and challenging ab workout for you to try and incorporate into your regular lifting routine.

Cardio is as cool, try it.

If you hate cardio, get over it and do it. I hated eating broccoli when I was little, but I knew that if I didn’t finish the green disgusting bush looking things scattered on my plate, I wouldn’t be permitted to have dessert. Eat broccoli à get dessert. Do cardio à help with the six pack. It’s a legitimate trade off.

Is this going to be easy? No. Is it obtainable? Absolutely. Please watch this very serious video blog that yours truly and Super Sexy Sarah put together to help you along in this journey! 

*Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Be In the 10% - The Ones Who Stick to Their Resolutions

Here we go again. We all have transformed into superhuman, motivated beings, ready to change our entire lives in 2013. I am all for it and am just like you -- pom-pom in one hand, goal setting sheet in the other. If only we won. You know, Resolution-er – 100, and the opponent, Failure - Zero.Kate Blog NewYearResolutions

According to statistics, our resolutions will have a fleeting life span of roughly four to six weeks. Your above average housefly lives about that. Sigh. Here is the truth. Nine out of ten people fail miserably at keeping their resolutions for a prolonged period of time. Our goal this year should be to become the exceptions… but how?

It takes more than willpower – According to a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, How to Keep a Resolution, willpower springs from the prefrontal cortex in the brain, which easily becomes overly exhausted & overloaded. After this happens, and our cognition becomes stressed by other life events, we will give into whatever feels good at the moment. Chocolate cake, for instance.

You need a plan – Small goals, deadlines, reward systems. To start, make yourself a weekly and monthly plan. It takes some time to do this. Make time. It works if you work it. With no plan of attack, you will be defeated.

Have a plan B for Failure – Most likely, you won’t nail this thing on the head. Say you want to lose 10 lbs in 3 months, but you lose eight. Now go to plan B. Maybe one reason you failed was because you could not seem to give up certain foods. So, incorporate an extra 60 minutes of cardio a week and allow yourself those 3 cookies that you can’t live without. Stick to the improvised plan for two or three weeks and re-evaluate where you are. Remember, this is a constant race, not a 50 yard dash.

Don’t let comparison steal your joy – Fist you wanted to organize the closets in your house and keep them that way all winter. Then after a coffee date with Susie homemaker, you feel instant guilt when she pulls a one-upper on your success. After Susie shares how she has re-modeled her entire kitchen, living room and powder room while still miraculously finding time to alphabetically organize her pie recipes, you feel like a loser. Well, I’m here to tell you that you aren’t a loser. You’re welcome for that affirmation. Be proud of your closets, they look awesome.

Make it fun – Studies show that as you correlate positive emotion to your desired change, you will be more likely to stick with what you are after. If you make a resolution to quit smoking this year and workout three times a week for 30 minutes, and happen to love camouflage, you better find the best darn dry-fit camo workout gear you can find and rock it. It will help you stay motivated. Imagine how you will feel as you conquer this goal! You will feel stronger, have more energy, feel healthy, love life. All of the benefits while enjoying the journey! Constantly focus on what you will get out of this.

Torture isn’t so much fun after awhile, but success is! Best of luck, get going!

*Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Lifting With Form and Style - The In Fashion of Fall 2012

describe the imageThe last thing that we want at Elevations is for our members to try new, exciting exercises and end up getting hurt either from poor form or lack of knowledge. Sometimes, all of us can feel that urgency to jump the gun and add lots of weight to a new exercise that we have not yet mastered. The result is that we end up not properly executing the exercise, compromising our form, and injuring ourselves.

Please take time to watch this instructional video which will cover full-body lifts such as the deadlift and squat, as well as power/plyometric moves such as the pop-squat and box jump. My main purpose in creating this video was to encourage you to try some “bigger” lifts which greatly benefit your strength and fitness level, but while staying safe when doing so.

Decrease Your Chance of Injury

Injury can come from two factors: intrinsic and extrinsic factors.  Intrinsic factors include age, gender, body dimension, and genetics. Extrinsic factors include training errors, faulty technique, poor environmental conditions, incorrect equipment and surfaces. What we focus on in the video are extrinsic factors associated with form. You can also decrease your chance of injury by addressing the extrinsic factors of muscular strength & flexibility.

For example,  when the hips and knees are simultaneously extending, such as during the squat, it is important to have good hamstring strength to take the impact of the load from the force placed on your quadriceps.

When abdominal strength and endurance are not adequate to counter the pull of the antagonist Erector Spinae (pretty cool words, huh? They are the three muscle groups that run from your neck to your lumbar spine or lower back) under load, these low back muscles are put at a mechanical disadvantage due to not being strong enough, and that puts extra stress on your back!

Having a weak core will directly impact both the squat and deadlift exercise. So, do your core exercises! (Just ask if you need some help with your core.)

The four moves that are shown in the video are complex moves that require sold strength and flexibility. In the squat and pop-squat, inflexibility in the gluteus maximus could increase injury in the lower back. When you deadlift, inflexibility in the hamstring could increase injury in the lower back, and in the step up/box jump, inflexibility in the iliotibial band could increase the chance of injury. (That’s the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin.)

So, here are your take-home points:

Work on form first! This is so important. Make sure that you are not using too much weight if it is your first time or two doing these exercises. Remember that even with less weight but amazing form you will get better results.

Weight training large muscle groups such as hamstrings, quads, and glutes will help you gain strength and improve your form when trying moves such as these. It is a great idea to get on a weight training routine to strengthen all muscles in your body.

Make sure that after you try this workout that I demonstrate you take time to stretch the muscle groups that were worked. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two times through.  


(Crown LA, et. al., 1997)

Exercise Saftey. (n.d.) retrieved from    

*Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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Why You Aren't Seeing Results - Yes, You!

“I’m so, so frustrated! I am not seeing the results I want!”Not Reaching Goals Blog

As a trainer, I have heard this many l times from members, clients, and participants in classes. So, in the nicest way I can say this, without an ounce of being condescending, (because deep down I want everyone to reach their goals, feel great about themselves, and see results!):

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see different results is insane. Insane! If you do not eventually see improvement and the results you want then you have not changed your habits.

Knowledge is power, but so is honesty. Honestly, most people DO know what to do, but they are not getting honest enough with themselves to make a change.

For example, there just happens to be a Dunkin’ Donuts shop within three miles of both Elevations locations. The workers at both locations may or may not know my coffee order by heart… Not that this is all about me, but when it comes to being a coffee connoisseur, I put 99 percent of all Starbucks snobs to shame. I know enough about that sweet little cup of heaven to know that if I ask for a large pumpkin coffee (4 pumps) with cream, then the calories I burned during that cycle class I just taught were back, and then some, within minutes of pulling out of the drive-thru. Ouch.

I know that I really should not have that as a post workout recovery shake, and for the sake of being accountable to this blog as well as a personal trainer, I have cut back tremendously on that delicious addiction. So please, gym-going readers, as you go through and review these pointers, be honest with yourself and give yourself an X-ray evaluation. Here we go…

1. You give up too soon

We can all fall victim to wanting to see results within three days of a new exercise regime, but we all know that is just not realistic. Give yourself four full weeks of dedicated work with no excuses or skipped workouts. Four solid honest weeks, and then take it from there.

2. You are not changing your eating habits

Here is the reality, folks. You are never going to see a change in that beautiful body if you keep using the forbidden excuse, “I can eat this because I worked out today.” It should be more like, “I worked out today, so I am going to continue treating my body healthy by eating right!” Get honest with yourself and get out of food denial. Keep yourself accountable by recording your food and looking at the kinds of foods you are putting into your mouth.

3. The scale isn’t your end all

If your goal is to lose weight, you most likely are going to use the scale as your guide for progress. Fair enough. But please, do not let everything ride on JUST THAT. Are you stronger? Can you get more done throughout your day without becoming fatigued? Has your resting heart rate decreased over time? There are so many other important benefits to fitness other than seeing the number on the scale drop. Put just as much emphasis on the other health factors as you do on the number on the scale. You will feel so much better about what you have accomplished through exercise!

4. Your workouts are boring

Boringgggggggggggg. The gym should feel like a party break from life. You just dealt with deadlines, phone calls, kids, daily hurdles and finally you made it to the gym. Now is the time to have fun. If that is not your mindset, you are doing it wrong. It should be like taking a kid to a hands-on toy store with all the toys in the world, and then they say, “I’m bored.” Shouldn’t happen. The same goes for you! Get out of your rut and please start having fun. Try something new if you are bored. Get help from a trainer.  Try something new. Make a new friend who you can train with. Even a small change can make it more exciting.

5. All that wander… Are lost.

When people go into a battle, they do not go in aimlessly, with no plan to attack the enemy. Every good team, army, or fight involves strategy. Your workouts should not sound like your order at the butcher shop. “I’ll take a couple of these, give me four of those, hold off on that, and I’ll take seven of those over there.” It is OK if you do not know how to craft a weight lifting routine or a cardio routine or set proper goals… that is what trainers are for, and you should seek out help if you need it. They will get you where you need to be, all the while making sure that you are properly executing the right tactic and form. If you have never tried a trainer, now is a great time to get a plan and get going!

6. You aren't going to lose 30 lbs in 3 weeks

The biggest accomplishments you can make are by achieving one small goal after the next. Each decision is important. Take it day by day. Today’s goal might not to skip your gym workout or have a second helping of rice. Great, do that with the best of your ability. Tomorrow you might want to lift ten pounds heavier on the chest press and do the treadmill for five extra minutes. Continue to set very small daily goals and over time they will add up to a very big change. You will see.

7. You are not yet comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

When you sprint, your breath is short. When you work hard, you sweat. When you lift heavy, it burns. When you give it all you’ve got, you feel exhausted.

Get used to these types of things. They are good for you.

I hope that this has helped motivate you to make some honest changes with yourself and get the results that you are looking for. After all, I have never met a new member who said, “I am joining the gym to stay exactly the same.”

*Kate is a Personal Trainer at Elevations Health Club.


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Mind Over Matter By Setting Goals

"The mind is a terrible thing to waste?" Isn't it?Goal Setting Blog

The power of our mind is unbievably interconnected to our behavior. If we think we can or think we can't, we are right. I once had a client tell me 17 times in the matter of just 20 minutes of activity "I have to stop." I didn't let her. She made it through.  It was simply her own negative self-talk that was causing her to want to quit, and as a trainer I hear it all the time. "It's impossible." "I can't." "That's too hard." "What are you crazy? I'm not doing that!" 

To be clear, I am crazy. A little. But I know that most of failure comes from giving up in our mind, or simply not trying at all. One very effective way we can combat negative thoughts and our own self-made roadblocks is to simple set goals and write them down.

1. Set personal, meaningful goals.

It's been said that "A goal casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle." Oh, how true. If the goals means nothing to you, it will be dropped the minute something difficult comes along to interfere. Be determined in your mind to set goals that take on personal meaning to you and have personal importance. Then write them down.

2. Then write them down again...and again

What you repeat over and over again is programmed into the subsconscious mind and begins to take root. On a practical level, this mean re-writing your goals every day and thinking about them in positive terms and in mental pictures, every day, repeatedly until the habit is formed and turned over into auto-pilot. - Tom Venuto, "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle"

Write down your goals on your mirror, put them on the fridge, and put them on your gym water bottle. Write them down, re-write them and re-read them daily.

3. Fighting through obstancles

To change your body in the gym, accomplish successful weight loss, or gain strength and muscle mass, whatever your goal may be, you have to change the way you think before you change the way you act. Make up your mind that when you set a goal to run a 5K, lose 10 pounds or decrease your body fat that nothing will hinder you from your goal. When things start to get hard and seem impossible, you know you are doing somethign right. Remind yourself of that when you set the goal in the first place. Stick with it. Get an accountability partner if you have to! Don't let yourself fail when it gets tough.

4. Celebrate

Celebrate even small victories. If your goal for the day was to avoid stopping at the deli and getting a cannoli, and you didn't, then congratulate and feel proud. (Just do not reward yourself with a donut!) Reward yourself with words of encouragement. Small victories repeated over and over form habits. Several different studies have shown that it does take 21 days to effectively form a habit. Give yourself three weeks and you will form good habits if you stick to it. For instance, if you get to the gym three or four days per week for three weeks, you are doing great and you are more likely to stick with it. Consistency is key because now your gym visits are part of your daily routine.

Doing the same great things, day in and day out, will get you to your goals. Keep pushing and challenging yourself and don't get discouraged when it gets tough. You want to be able to look back and be amazed at all that you were able to accomplish!

*Kate is a personal trainer at Elevations Health Club.

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