Shaping Up For Summer

Shaping Up for Summer

Local Personal Trainers Want to Help YOU Get Fit

By Emma Rathkey

When many of us think of personal trainers, we might think of highly-trained professionals available only to professional athletes and the very rich. In fact, personal trainers are increasingly serving the health needs of anyone with a serious interest in personal fitness, including trainers who not only have their own facilities where one can visit, but also those who provide the most personal level of service of all—coming to your home for one-on-one training and advice.

As Spring approaches and a furtive glance in the mirror may suggest some necessary trimming to accommodate beachwear, it may be the perfect time to use the knowledge—and skills—of personal trainers to get into shape again. To help you get fit and ready for summer, any good personal trainer will have some great suggestions for a basic exercise and strength-training regimen. The self-motivated can follow this routine on their own; for those who prefer more hands-on direction, a personal trainer can work with you—at home or in the gym—for somewhere between $60 and $100 an hour.

A key to success is to set realistic goals. “Most people don’t stick to their fitness goals because they don’t lay out a reasonable plan,” says Mike Reed, a personal trainer and Fitness Program Manager at Wellesley’s Boston Sports Clubs. Don’t set out to exercise three hours a day if it’s impossible to carve that much time out of your schedule. If one hour is all you can spare initially, start with that. Remember, even a small amount of exercise is better than none at all.

Several local trainers have recommended some fundamental strength-training exercises (see sidebars) you can do at home to start shaping and toning the muscles. A good rule of thumb is to repeat the exercise to the point where it’s a little bit of a struggle.

Rest is important too. “Often overlooked is rest or recovery,” says Ben Bergeron, of the in-home personal training group, Summit Fitness. Weight training actually tears down muscle and rest allows those muscles to rebuild. So don’t work the same muscle for consecutive days — alternate.

Don’t expect too much from strength training alone, however. As Wellesley’s Fitness Together owner Chad Asnes suggests, these exercises may help tone the muscles, “but you have to get rid of the fat on top.” To do that, you need to include cardiovascular exercise and diet.

For the uninitiated, Fitness Therapists’ Jennifer Abbott suggests doing some form of “cardio” for at least twenty minutes per day, five days a week. “Burn 100 more calories a day through exercise,” she says from her office at Wellesley’s Fitness Club for Women. If you’re leading a completely sedentary life, that may mean walking. If you’re a runner, that may mean introducing other forms of cardiovascular work or weight training into your exercise routine.

“Exercise is a small part of the puzzle,” says Rhianna Dacruz, a certified personal trainer at Bodyscapes in Wellesley. “Eating habits are very important,” she adds, pointing to the benefits of minimizing saturated fats in your diet.

Exercising and eating right are key elements in any fitness plan. And while following this routine probably won’t land you on the cover of Men’s Health for your “Killer Abs,” or transform you into a svelte supermodel, it is guaranteed to make you look and feel fit and ready for summer.

The Crunch

The area otherwise known as the paunch, the belly, even the “Dunlop” (because your stomach done lop over your belt), the stomach can be a problem area for both men and women. A commonly recommended exercise to address this area is the crunch.

Lay on back with legs bent in the air at a 90 degree angle.

Put arms in front of you. (Or put hands lightly behind head with arms open and elbows in line with ears to resist pulling neck.)

Slowly rise by pulling belly button under rib cage and exhaling.

Finish breath at top.

Slowly lower back by gradually dropping shoulder blades to the ground and inhaling.

Repeat 15 to 30 times for 1 – 3 sets.

TIPS: This is a very small movement. Lower back should not arch but
should stay on the ground throughout. Focusing at a point in the ceiling
may help you resist pulling neck.

The Push Up
Push-ups are great for the upper body and use all your body weight, so in all likelihood, they’ll never get easy (good in a personal trainer’s view, maybe not so good in yours).

To get into starting position, lie face down with palms on the floor directly under elbows and in line with chest. Push up off the floor from hands and toes (or, to make it easier, knees). Keep body straight as a plank and stomach tight as you rise.

Pause at the top without locking elbows or allowing hips to fall out of alignment.

Lower body by leading with chest and inhaling. Back should be straight and stomach tight.

When nose almost touches the ground, push up to starting position while exhaling. Again,
back should be straight and stomach tight.

If push-ups are too difficult from toes or knees, try a wall push-up. Motion is similar to floor push-up, except push-up is vertical.

TIPS: Most people don’t put their hands out wide enough. Arms should be at 90 degree
angles at the elbow.

Summer 2024