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Client Spotlight: Melissa Silva

My client Melissa Silva is a weight loss success story, losing 52 pounds! She is the client that defeated all odds, reaching her weight loss goal at one of the busiest and most difficult times in her life. If she can do it, YOU can do it. She’s a mom with a full time job, was in college full time the entire time, was dealing with the tragic loss of her brother, and somehow found time to exercise and eat healthy. WOW! Melissa offers sound advice for anyone who feels like it’s never the right time to start.




Q. How much weight did you lose and how long did it take you?

I have lost a total of 52 lbs. in approximately 8 months and I can happily say I reached my weight loss goal.

Q. How did you lose the weight?

I lost the weight by making myself a priority, working my butt off with my fabulous trainer Dara Mazzie three times a week for an hour at a time, doing cardio two days a week for 30 to 60 minutes on my own, joining the Weight Watchers online program, gaining support from my family, and never, ever giving up. There were many times when I thought I couldn’t do it.  When I first started training with Dara I was completely out of shape and had poor eating habits. I often thought about exercising and eating healthier in the past, but I was never able to stick to a plan for long. Scheduling sessions with Dara gave me the accountability and guidance that I needed. Once I started working out, I wanted to eat healthier too. The Weight Watchers online program allowed me to track what I was eating in an easy and convenient manner using my mobile phone.  The Weight Watchers Points System taught me that if I made healthier food choices, I could eat more throughout the day and never feel hungry.

Q. What obstacles did you face on your weight loss journey?

I began my weight loss journey perhaps at one of the busiest times in my life. I am a wife and mother of three children who are all active in sports. At the start of my journey, I was working fulltime (40 plus hours a week) which often included weekends, attending college with eight months left to complete my degree program, dealing with a tragic loss, and to top it off, it was soccer and wrestling season for my boys. I know, what was I thinking?  Needless to say, I had no idea how I was going to find the time to workout and prepare healthy meals on top of all of my other commitments. I also began my weight loss journey around the holiday season, which meant there was a lot of temptation to return to unhealthy eating habits and excuses to not exercise. Additionally, I struggled with hip and leg pain/injury as well as a fear of failing. Did I mention how out of shape I was?

Q. What helped you get past these obstacles?

Willpower, determination, support from family and friends, and hiring the best trainer were the biggest tools for me. To overcome the obstacle of my extremely busy life I had to use really good time management and often give up attending social events and forgo sleep. I had to prioritize what was really important to me. I made exercise and healthy eating a priority. I scheduled in exercise daily to ensure I fit it in. If I knew that I was going to be up late studying or doing homework, I would make sure that I worked out before I started. In addition, I learned to combine family time with exercise. I made the days that my sons had practice my cardio days by running around the field with my husband while our sons were practicing. As a family we go on bike rides, run at the beach, and play soccer.

Because of my extremely demanding schedule, I didn’t always have time to prepare healthy meals. I learned that eating out didn’t have to mean I had to make unhealthy choices. To stay within my daily Weight Watchers points, I looked up nearby restaurants’ nutrition information ahead of time and recorded the point values of items I liked to eat in my Weight Watchers app.  This way I had the information available at a moment’s notice. This also taught me a lot about portion control. I really had no idea about the amount of calories the food I was eating contained.  My husband and I often share meals now when we go out, this stops us both from over eating.  On Sunday’s, I pre-plan meals and prepare food so I always have a healthy option available during the week. The reason I chose the Weight Watcher program is because it is easy and I never feel deprived. It is not a diet program to me. It is my lifestyle now.

Q. Do you have any advice or tips for people who are struggling to lose weight and get fit?

Start now. It does not get easier if you wait and there will never be a right time. If possible, hire Dara Mazzie as your trainer.  Hiring Dara was the best decision that I made. She is so much more than a personal trainer. Dara is there to listen when I need to vent about my struggles as well as to motivate me. She has been my teacher, mentor, and cheerleader. She was there to hold me accountable, which was very important in the beginning and at times when I was struggling.

When I first started working out, I barely made it through the session. I thought to myself, how am I ever going to do this? I could barely do a push-up and had never even heard of a burpee! I would often look at Dara and say, “You want me to do what?!”  Hiring Dara took the guess-work out of exercising for me. I showed up and Dara told me what to do and how to do it.  I will admit there were times that I prayed almost the entire session asking God to help me make it through, but then there were times when I was so proud of myself when I performed an exercise that I couldn’t even imagine doing in the beginning.

I would also recommend joining the Weight Watchers online program. The program is easy, affordable, and convenient.  The program teaches you how to lose weight the right way.  There is an application for your mobile device that allows you to keep track of your points.  The application also has a scanner so you can scan the barcode of a product and it will give you the point value.  How simple is that! The Weight Watcher’s program has taught me how to keep the weight off.

Remember, every day is a fresh start. If you have days that you fall of your program, it is all right. Don’t beat yourself up. I have definitely made bad choices along my journey (still do).  I dust it off and start fresh with the next meal.

Q. How has your life changed since losing the weight?

I feel incredible and really enjoy being active with my family. A year ago my son and I were doing an exercise video together and I could not even make it through the video. A couple of months ago I took my son with me to one of Dara’s classes and he said, “Wow mom you did really good. I remember when you couldn’t even finish the video.”  That felt so good coming from him. I also graduated college this past June. We had family that we had not seen for a while in town for graduation.  They were amazed at my transformation. My aunt even felt inspired and went home and started exercising and eating healthy. It felt wonderful to be an inspiration to her.  I have to say, shopping for clothes is so much more fun too! I don’t have to worry about finding clothes that will hide my fat. I can buy clothes because I truly like them and feel great in them.

Q. What was surprising or unexpected about the weight loss process?

The most surprising aspect of my weight loss journey was that I actually met my weight loss goal and I am keeping the weight off. Deep down I truly didn’t think I was going to get there.  I didn’t know that I had it in me. I was surprised at how challenging it is to get started and stay motivated. Boy, did I work my butt off! Now I know why exercising is called working out!

I also found it surprising that once my muscles started developing, cardio became easier.  In the beginning I could barely stay on the elliptical for 15 minutes, now I am on it for an hour at a time.

I found it surprising on how much our lives are centered on food. Food is everywhere! I had to restrain how much I thought about food. I really learned a lot about myself in the process.

Q. What was your motivation to lose the weight? How did you stay focused?

My friend Michellen, began training with Dara and eating healthy.  She noticeably began losing weight over a period of time.  She shared tips with me, but I still didn’t exercise or eat healthy on a regular basis. Looking back now, I think I didn’t start taking it seriously because I was afraid of failing (part of my perfectionist syndrome). Later that year I experienced a tragic loss, which taught me that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband to live for. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I was around for them. I also didn’t want my parents to lose another child. There are some things that are beyond our control, but living a healthy lifestyle was something I could control. I also wanted to be a good role model for my children. As I continued to watch my friend lose more and more weight, I was inspired. I thought, “Wow, if she is doing this maybe I can get in shape and lose the weight too.” My friend encouraged me and introduced me to Dara. I was truly blessed that I had a friend that was so inspiring and cared enough to help me begin my journey.

One aspect of my life that helped me stay focused on my weight loss goal was the fact that I had graduation coming up. I knew that there would be lots of pictures. I was tired of looking at myself in pictures and thinking what happened? Where did you go? It took me seventeen years to go back to school and earn my degree from when I graduated high school. I wanted to be happy and celebrate this moment and not feel depressed about my weight. It was so wonderful to take pictures with my family and friends and to not have to worry about how fat I was going to look in them. Now all I see is what a special day that was and how much I have accomplished.

Q. If you had to do it all again, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, I would have started sooner!  What was I waiting for?

Q. What is your fitness and nutrition like now that you are in maintenance mode?

I have learned that maintenance mode is tricky.  It is all about balance.  If I want to eat more of what I call “cheat meals,” I exercise more to maintain my weight.  If I want to exercise less, I eat better. My goal is to stay within five pounds of my goal weight. I have found that it is easier to eat better and exercise during the week because my week is so structured. The weekends are where I find myself sometimes struggling. Therefore, I plan my workouts during the week so if I miss one, I can make it up on the weekend.

Q. Can you share any other tips that helped you reach your weight-loss goals?

Yes! First, El Pollo Loco is a wonderful fast food restaurant that offers healthy and affordable choices. They have an entire “Under 500 Calories” menu and the food is delicious. When I am running short on time and have to eat out I often stop there. I can feed my family in a hurry and feel great about it. Also, I love Starbucks. I learned that I didn’t have to give up my favorite drink permanently. Instead of having a Grande Carmel Macchiatto seven days a week, I have a tall one on the weekends. This way I never feel deprived. Sara Lee has wonderful bread that has only 45 calories per slice and is delightful. Another staple in my refrigerator is Sargento’s 40 calories a slice cheese. I often make an egg and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich when I need a fast meal. I carry around a piece of fruit or a Special K 100 calories or less protein bar in my purse. That way if I ever get hungry I always have a nutritious snack handy.

Blog Training

At Home Medicine Ball Workout #2

Need a challenging workout that can be done in a small space with little equipment? Grab a medicine ball and and try this one at home! I chose 7 exercises to be done circuit style, meaning you should complete them back to back with very little rest in between. Training in this fashion will keep your heart rate up so that you not only get a great strength workout, but you also get a cardiovascular challenge. This workout is quick and tailored to accommodate all fitness levels. I used the medicine ball to increase the intensity of each exercise, but you can just as easily complete this workout with just your body weight.

Medicine Ball workout #2 trains you in all 3 planes of motion, works most major muscle groups, and will increase your strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance. The best part is that it shouldn’t take you longer than 25 minutes to complete the entire workout! Here are the 7 functional exercises I chose for this workout with an explanation as to why I chose them.

1. MB (Medicine Ball) Heartbeat Squats – chosen because squatting and pressing are primal movement patterns & they will strengthen muscles in your upper and lower body while working in the sagittal plane of motion.

2. MB Mountain Climbers – chosen to strengthen core musculature, increase cardiovascular endurance, and agility while working the entire body through the sagittal plane of motion.

3. MB Reverse Lunge with a Twist – chosen because lunging and twisting are primal movement patterns and works to increase range of motion in your spine while strengthening your lower body through the sagittal and transverse planes of motion.

4. MB Side Planks – chosen to strengthen core musculature on the side of your body while working in the frontal plane of motion.

5. MB V-Ups – chosen to strengthen the abdominals in the sagittal plane of motion.

6. Single Leg Hip Press Hold w/ Leg Lift – chosen to strengthen musculature in your hamstrings, glutes, and low back while working through the sagittal plane of motion.

7. Cobra – chosen to increase strength in back and glutes, open up the chest and reverse forward posture while working in the transverse and sagittal planes of motion.

If you are a beginner, start by doing 1 set of each exercise and work your way up to 3. Once you can complete 3 sets at the beginner level, it’s time to move up to the intermediate level. If you are advanced, start with 3 sets and try to beat your time each time you do the workout. I was able to complete 3 circuits of all 7 advanced exercises in less than 25 minutes. Try and beat my time and leave me a comment if you do!


Beginner Intermediate Advanced
1. MB Heartbeat Squats
8-12 reps 12-20 reps 20-30 reps
2. MB Mountain Climbers
10-15 secs 20-30 secs 45 secs-1min
3. MB Reverse Lunge w/ Twist
10-16 reps total (5-8 per side) 18-24 reps total (9-12 per side) 30-40 reps total (15-20 per side)
4. MB Side Plank
10-20 secs 20-30 secs 30-45 secs
5. MB V-Ups 4-6 reps 8-12 reps 15-20 reps
6. MB Single Leg Hip Press w/ Lift 5-8 reps per leg 10-12 reps per leg 12-15 reps per leg
7. Cobra 5-8 reps 8-12 reps 12-15 reps


Watch my video to see how it’s done in real time. Hit LIKE if you got a great workout. If you have a question, leave a comment and I will be happy to answer it for you. This is one of many at home workouts that I will be posting so stay tuned!

If you like this video, check out this workout that will really challenge your whole body using just a medicine ball. You can do it anytime, anywhere.


Medicine Ball Workout #1

I constantly have clients asking me what they can do at home to stay fit. They have full time jobs and children and social obligations….finding time to workout can be tough. Trying to buy the right fitness equipment can be expensive and who has the space to store all that stuff? So here is the solution…a quick video where I take you through a full body workout that you can do at home with just a medicine ball! And don’t worry, if you need to purchase a medicine ball for this workout, it won’t go to waste. I have 3 videos coming your way that use just a medicine ball so stay tuned…

This medicine ball workout is so well rounded, hitting all major muscle groups and working your body through all 3 planes of motion (Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse). These exercises will increase strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!  Here are the exercises you will complete in the workout with an explanation as to why I chose them. If you know me at all, you know that I only choose exercises that are functional and will have a great impact on your fitness level and health.


1. MB (Medicine Ball) Squat and Chop – chosen because squatting and pulling are primal movement patterns & they will increase strength in your lower body, back, and shoulders while working through the sagittal and transverse planes of motion.

2. MB Jumping Jack Planks – strengthens your core through movement in the frontal plane of motion and works your cardiovascular system at the same time.

3. MB High Knees – works your cardiovascular system in the sagittal plane of motion.

4. MB Push Ups – increases upper body and core strength through the transverse plane of motion.

5. MB Single Leg Hip Press – strengthens the glutes and hamstrings (often neglected in the gym but absolutely necessary to have a balanced, functional body) in the sagittal plane of motion.

6. The Swim – strengthens the low back, works the errector muscles that run up and down your spine which help to keep you standing upright, and helps to strengthen the external rotators in your shoulders to help combat poor posture.  All that while working the sagittal and transverse planes of motion.

If you don’t know how to do these exercises, go to my Exercise Database and click on the name of each exercise for a short, instructional video that will show you correct form and modifications for beginners. If  you are a beginner, start by doing 1 set of each exercise and work your way up to 3. Once you can complete 3 sets at the beginner level, it’s time to move up to the intermediate level. If you are advanced, start with 3 sets and try to beat your time each time you do the workout. I was able to complete 3 circuits of all 6 advanced exercises in less than 25 minutes. Try and beat my time and leave me a comment if you do!


Beginner Intermediate Advanced
1. MB Squat and Chop
8-12 reps 14-20 reps 22-30 reps
2. MB Jumping Jack Planks
10-15 secs 20-30 secs 45 secs-1min
3. MB High Knees
10-15 secs 20-30 secs 45 secs-1min
4. MB Push Ups
4-6 reps 8-16reps 18-30 reps
5. MB Single Leg Hip Press
4-6 reps per leg 7-12 reps per leg 13-20 reps per leg
6. Swim
5-8 reps 6-10 reps 11-15 reps


Watch my video to see how it’s done in real time.  Hit LIKE if you got a great workout. If you have a question, leave a comment and I will be happy to answer it for you.

If you like this video, check out this workout that will really challenge your whole body using just a medicine ball. You can do it anytime, anywhere.

Blog Fitness Industry Training

Functional Fitness: The 7 Primal Movement Patterns

The 7 primal movement patterns describe the fundamental movements that humans perform on a daily basis. They are Squatting, Lunging, Pushing, Pulling, Bending, Twisting and Walking (AKA gait).

You should be training your body through all 7 of these movement patterns on a weekly basis. I try to hit as many as I can each hour that I spend with my clients. I plan client workouts with these movement patterns in mind so that they will feel stronger and be able to function better in their everyday lives.

From a functional fitness standpoint, you shouldn’t be focusing on isolating one muscle group at a time…nothing you do in real life will require you to use only your biceps, so sitting down at the gym and doing biceps curls on a machine will not help you function better in real life. If you are a body builder, this may be a great exercise for you, or if you are trying to correct some kind of muscle imbalance, but most people should be strengthening their bodies with multi-joint, multi-planar movement patterns.

1-squatPrimal Movement #1 Squat

It is so important to squat properly! We squat to perform many daily activities like getting in and out of chairs or picking our kids up off the ground. This is probably the most important primal movement to master because we use it so often to function in our daily lives. There are many different types of squatting exercises, but here is the correct form for a traditional squat:

  • Place your feet on the ground approximately shoulder width apart, engage your abdominals, pinch your shoulder blades together
  • Hinge at your hips and stick your butt out behind you as you bend your knees to lower yourself down as if you were sitting back into a chair. Try to get your hamstrings parallel to the floor (about 90-degree angle at your knees).
  • Keep your chest up, back straight, abs tight, and make sure most of your body weight is in your heels. Check that your knees are either in line with your toes or slightly behind them. Never let your knees get out in front of your toes! This type of squat will strengthen your quads, glutes, and core.

2-lungePrimal Movement #2 Lunge

Another movement pattern humans use everyday is lunging. Anyone who plays sports will need to do lunges correctly in order to perform. Volleyball, tennis, soccer, football, martial arts…you name it, they lunge in all different directions all the time. There are many variations of the lunge, but here are the instructions for the traditional static lunge:

  • Start by placing one leg slightly in front of you and your other leg slightly behind you, keeping your legs about hip width apart. Shift most of your weight to your front leg, keeping your back foot on its toes.
  • Bend your front leg at the knee and lower yourself until your hamstring is about parallel to the floor (90-degree angel at your knee). I prefer to have my back knee bent to a 90-degree angle as well. Be sure that your front knee does not move forward past your toes. Just like the squat, you want to keep your front knee in line with your toes or slightly behind, them.
  • Straighten the front leg as you return to start position and repeat. Make sure you even out by doing lunges with the opposite leg in front. Emphasize using your front leg to do most of the work, keeping most of your weight in the heel of your front foot. This type of lunge will strengthen your quads and glutes while increasing hip stability.

Primal Movement #3 Push3-push

We push things around all day long! From pushing your shopping cart at the grocery store, to banging out some push ups at the gym, we use our push muscles to function daily. There are 2 main types of pushes, the vertical where you push something up over your head, and the horizontal where you push something away out in front of your chest.

One horizontal push exercise you can do is the push up:

  • Lay face down and place your hands right next to your arm pits.
  • Dig your toes into the ground, contract your abs, and push up to the plank position. Your body should be totally straight from head to toe throughout this exercise.
  • Lower yourself down, bending at the elbows and retracting your shoulder blades until your chest is an inch above the ground, and then push back up to plank position. This type of push up will strengthen your chest, arms, & core while increasing shoulder stability.

4-pullPrimal Movement #4 Pull

The opposite of pushing, pulling motions are often underutilized at the gym. We use our push muscles so often that it is vital to counterbalance them with plenty of pulling exercises. There are 2 main types of pulling exercises, the vertical pull where your arms are over your head and you pull yourself up (like a pull up), or the horizontal pull where you pull something towards your chest (like a row). Here are instructions for a challenging, horizontal pulling exercise called the plank row:

  • Start by placing 2 dumbbells on the floor and getting into a plank position with your hands on the dumbbells. Separate your legs to hip width apart.
  • It is vital that you keep your abs engaged throughout this exercise in order to keep your back nice and straight.
  • Lift one dumbbell until your elbow breaks the plane of your back, pinching your shoulder blade behind you. Keep your hips facing the ground (don’t let them twist) and your neck straight.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to the ground and switch to the other side. Try not to twist your hips as you shift your weight from one side to the other. This type of pull exercise will strengthen your upper back, arms, & core while increasing shoulder stability.

5-bendPrimal Movement #5 Bend

People often injure themselves doing simple things like bending over to pick up a suitcase because they aren’t bending over properly or they haven’t trained their bodies to use their bending muscles correctly. This is important because bending over properly can save you a lot of lower back pain in your life.  There are many exercises you can do to strengthen the bend, but my favorite is the Romanian Deadlift.

  • Please start with a light weight. Once you have perfected your form, then add weight on a little at a time. It is very easy to permanently injure your back doing deadlifts with improper form or too much weight.
  • Start by standing with your feet about hip width apart, holding a light weight using an overhand grip. You can use dumbbells, a kettlebell or barbell. Your arms should be straight throughout the entire exercise.
  • Bend your knees slightly, push your butt back, keep most of your body weight in your heels, and bend over at the hips with your back flat, shoulders blades pinched back, and your abdominals engaged. Your knees should be stationary as all the movement comes from the hinging of the hips.
  • Bend at the hips until your back is parallel to the floor, then reverse the movement until you are standing straight up again. This type of bending exercise will strengthen your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes.

6-twistPrimal Movement #6 Twist

It’s so important to strengthen your body in the transverse plane of motion. All athletes must twist their bodies in order to perform, like when a volleyball player spikes a ball. But did you know that most human movements involve some kind of rotation, even walking! You can train your twisting muscles by doing exercises involving rotational movements, or anti-rotational movements (meaning you hold still while something or someone is trying to get you to twist out of alignment). Here are the instructions for adding a twisting motion to the lunging movement pattern mentioned above:

  • Perform the exact same lunge as previously mentioned, but this time hold a medicine ball, kettlebell, or dumbbell at chest level.
  • As you lower yourself down into a lunge with correct form, rotate your upper body toward the side of the front leg (if your right leg is out in front, then rotate to your right). Engage your abdominals, retract your shoulder blades, and keep your back as straight as possible.
  • Return to start position on the way up from your lunge. Repeat on the other side. This type of twisting exercise will strengthen all the muscles that wrap around your trunk, otherwise known as the core musculature, as it strengthens your lower body through the lunge.

Primal Movement #7 Gait

The most frequently used primal movement pattern is a gait, which is just a fancy term for walking, running, & jumping. Gait requires you to use a combination of primal movements in order to perform. I will not bore you with instructions on how to walk, but will advise you to engage your core muscles and keep good posture while walking, running, and jumping.


Strengthening the human body using the 7 Primal Movement Patterns is the foundation of functional fitness. Using these movement patterns to exercise, instead of focusing on just one muscle group at a time, will save you time at the gym and create a better balanced and more efficient body. An added benefit is that most of these movement patterns will help your body become leaner because they work so many muscle groups at the same time, causing your body to use more energy to perform them, which means a high caloric expenditure.


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Blog Fitness Industry Training

My Functional Fitness Standards

Functional fitness, functional training, and functional exercises are all terms that are becoming quite popular in the fitness industry. But what do they really mean? The functionality of an exercise is highly individualized. What is functional for one person, may not be for another. This makes the term “functional” highly controversial.

In my opinion, there are some universal truths associated with functional fitness training that trainers and coaches can use as a baseline for deciding which exercises will help their athletes and clients function at their best when they are outside of the gym. Here is my list of functional fitness standards that I adhere to when planning a personal training session for my clients:

  1. 7 Primal Movement Patterns – Your clients should be squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, and walking/running/sprinting (gait) on a weekly basis.
  2. 3 Planes of Motion – Clients should be strengthening through the frontal, sagittal, & transverse planes of motion.
  3. Increase Cardiovascular Endurance
  4. Increase Muscular Endurance
  5. Strengthen Core Musculature
  6. Correct Postural Imbalances
  7. Improve Balance, Stability, & Flexibility

I think that most people can benefit from training sessions that meet these standards. They are a great starting point for personal trainers to use when developing exercise programs for their clients. But I do not believe this list is the end-all-be-all of functional training. Trainers and coaches need to look at each individual client on a daily basis and decide which exercises will help them function optimally outside of the gym.

Blog Fitness Industry Training

If I Could Only Do 5 Exercises…

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by life’s daily obligations that you just don’t have time to squeeze in a workout? I HEAR YA! I am a personal trainer and even I struggle to get my workouts in. My schedule is crazy! I’m tired, stressed out, and I have social & family obligations to attend to, I don’t have time to exercise…these excuses sound familiar to anyone?

So how can I help you put fitness first? By making it easy! All of these excuses lead me to create a list of functional exercises that could be done anytime, anywhere, with little equipment. I took all the guesswork out of the equation for you by creating a workout that meets all of my functional fitness standards. This specialized list was developed to get you a challenging, full body workout in less than 30 minutes! Watch me crush this workout in real time and do it along with me. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.




If I only had time in my day to do 5 exercises, this is what I would do:

  1. Walk/Run/Sprint – chosen because it’s a primal movement pattern that trains your cardiovascular system & moves through the sagittal & transverse planes of motion
  2. Plank – chosen because it strengthens your core musculature
  3. Lunge Choppers – chosen because it strengthens your muscles using the lunge, pull, and twisting movement patterns, & when completed AFAP increases your anaerobic capacity and muscular endurance, and moves through frontal & transverse planes of motion
  4. Cobra – chosen to correct postural imbalances and strengthen muscles often weakened from sitting down too much all day & moves through the sagittal plane of motion
  5. Burpees – chosen because it strengthens your muscles using the squat, push, and bending movement patterns, & when completed AFAP it increases your anaerobic capacity and muscular endurance, and moves through the sagittal & frontal planes of motion

I even listed them in a specific order so that the first exercise would serve as a warm-up for exercises 2 – 5, and there is a recovery exercise slated in between each high intensity exercise in order to give you time to recover without standing around doing nothing. See the chart below to progress each exercise from intermediate to advanced.

If you don’t know how to do these exercises, go to my Exercise Database and click on the name of each exercise for a short, instructional video that will show you correct form and modifications for beginners. If  you are a beginner, start by doing 1 set of each exercise and work your way up to 3. Once you can complete 3 sets at the beginner level, it’s time to move up to the intermediate level. If you are advanced, start with 3 sets and try to beat your time each time you do the workout. I did a 15 minute walk, run, sprint interval followed by 13 minutes to complete 3 sets of the last 4 exercises…try and beat my time! Leave me a comment if you do!


Beginner Intermediate Advanced
1. Walk/Run/Sprint 10-15 mins 15-30 mins (intervals) 15-60 mins (intervals)
2. Plank 15-30 secs 30-45 secs 45 secs-2mins
3. Lunge Choppers 5-8 each side 8-12 each side 12-15 each side
4. Cobra 5-8 reps 8-12reps 12-15 reps
5. Burpees 5- 8 reps 8-12 reps 12-15 reps


So if you only have time for 5 exercises, these are the most functional & efficient ones you can do. Watch my video and the exercises along with me.  Hit LIKE if you got a great workout. If you have a question, leave a comment and I will be happy to answer it for you.

Blog Fitness Industry Training

Planning Workouts for Your Clients

I have found that developing individualized exercise plans for every client can be a daunting task. Planning for all of the different needs and abilities of your clients can get time consuming…so I developed a structure for training sessions that helps me stay organized and gets my clients the weight loss and fitness results they want. Remember, all exercises should be tailored to fit the needs of the individual client, but this is a great framework to start with.

5-10 mins Dynamic Warm-Up

To me, a dynamic warm up means that the motions match what’s ahead in the workout. As a personal trainer who believes in functional fitness, I plan full body exercises for the strength training and HIIT portions of the workout that mimic all of the movement patterns my clients go through everyday. These movement patterns include squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, bending, and balancing. Your warm-up should include all of these motions in order to prepare the body for it’s workout.

20-30 mins Strength Training

The body should be strengthened in all ranges of motion. When you plan strength exercises, focus on client goals and their daily lives, then pick exercise that will make them feel stronger in whatever it is they do. A mother of 3 will benefit from a kettle bell goblet squat with heartbeat because it mimics the motions she’ll need to perform when putting her kids in high chairs and car seats.  And don’t forget to work muscles in opposition…a beach volleyball player who is constantly using quads and push muscles will thank you for keeping his muscles balanced by strengthening his back, glutes, and hamstrings. Try to include as many of the movement patterns mentioned above and combine them whenever possible.

5-15 mins High Intensity Interval Training

I like Tabata Method but any high intensity interval training will work. This is a good time to add plyometrics, speed, agility, and quickness into the workout if it suits your clients.

5-10 mins Cool Down

A cool down can include foam rolling, stretching, and recovery exercises like clams and cobras that work small muscle groups allowing client to bring their heart rate down and catch their breathe while working very important muscles that often go over looked.



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The Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spot: How I Mix Up My Workouts for Maximum Results

Whether you are a fitness enthusiast or certified personal trainer, the vast amount of information out there regarding which types of workouts you should do and how often you should do them is completely overwhelming! The information is conflicting and changes daily. I know because I spend countless hours reading, researching, and attending personal training seminars in order to keep up with the ever-changing world of fitness.

So what exactly is the answer?

I am a certified personal trainer and I am in good shape. I am strong, balanced, flexible, and have good stamina. I am often asked how I have accomplished my level of fitness and my answer is always the same…I mix up my workouts! I run on the beach, play sports, attend Pilates & yoga classes, and do strength training and high intensity interval training (HITT) on a weekly basis. Keep in mind that I am 36 years old, have had major hip surgery, and am still dealing with fibromyalgia-like pain in my back and neck. I tell you this because if I can do it, you can do it!

Not every week looks the same because I need to listen to my body and try to find a sweet spot…but I do have a few basic rules I follow that work for me.

  1.  I workout more days than I rest. That means at least 4 workouts per week, although most weeks I try for 5 or 6.
  2. I aim for 3 days a week (1 hour each day) of full body strength training with HITT mixed in. So for instance, I may do 3 sets of squats, rows, and reverse crunches (strength training) followed by Tabata style burpees (HITT). You can also get a good mix of strength and interval training by taking boot camp, kettle bell, and body sculpting type classes.
  3. I hate running! Actually I am not a fan of steady-state cardio in general, I think it’s boring (probably not a good thing for a personal trainer to admit but hey, at least I’m honest). Probably because I ran a marathon a few years ago. I never got the “runner’s high” that I had heard so much about, and ever since then I just can’t get myself to enjoy long distance running. However, I do it because it is absolutely necessary for me to do some sort of steady state cardio (walking, jogging, elliptical) in order for me to keep the fitness level and physique I desire. I run 30 minutes on the wet, hard sand in Hermosa Beach each week. If I am really feeling good, I will do it twice. That’s not enough aerobic training by itself, but luckily I LOVE HITT! Interval training increases my cardiovascular fitness level so I don’t have to run long distances to keep my heart and lungs in shape.
  4. I also try to get to a Pilates or Yoga class once a week. This helps keep me flexible, balanced, and core strong.
  5. I play beach volleyball once or twice a week. Sports are my favorite way to stay in shape because it’s so much fun and it doesn’t feel like work!

Again, this is my sweet spot…it’s what works for me. You need to find your own mix of exercises that you enjoy, otherwise you won’t be able to sustain a regular weekly routine. But please mix it up! You need to train your muscles, bones, joints, heart, and lungs. This means that you need to combine strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training.


TIP: I sign up for daily Groupon and Living Social deals in my area. I literally get emails almost everyday with amazing deals on fitness classes. I highly suggest taking advantage of this because it reduces costs significantly and allows you the opportunity to mix up your workouts.

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Up & Down Planks

Everyone knows that holding a stationary plank increases core strength, but did you know you can also use planks to train your core through movement? One way to do this is called the Up & Down Plank. It is extremely challenging for your core and will also help to increase your upper body strength.


To perform the Up & Down Plank, start in an elbow plank position with elbows directly under your shoulders and feet about hip width apart.


Push up to the top of a push us position leading with your left hand, then lower yourself back down again to elbow plank position leading with the left hand.


The goal is to keep your body as stiff as a board as you move from elbows to hands. Keep your stomach in tight and your hips facing the ground. Repeat this 5 times leading with your left hand and then 5 times leading with your right hand for a total of 10 repetitions. If you aren’t strong enough to push yourself up, you can modify this exercise by doing it on your knees.

As a personal trainer, one way I advance this plank for my clients is to have them perform as many Up & Down Planks as possible in one minute. They should lead with their right hand for the first 30 seconds, then another 30 seconds leading with their left hand (no break in between). I guarantee this will be challenging even for the most advanced plankers!

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Fitness Simplified: High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a method of training that alternates high intensity exercise with low intensity exercise or rest. A good example of HIIT would be sprinting for 20 seconds then walking for 40 seconds. You can use HIIT to train your aerobic system using cardio exercises like running & walking, or your anaerobic system using strength exercises like burpees. There are many different intervals that you can use, but one of my favorites is the Tabata Method which only takes 4 minutes to complete.

High Intensity Interval Training develops your cardiovascular system in a short amount of time. Although it takes less time, HIIT is NOT easier than traditional cardio exercises like running. It is extremely challenging because you must push yourself to your max, and so it may not be a good choice for beginners. Please don’t attempt HIIT until you can do a session of cardio for at least 20 minutes at about 80% of your max heart rate.

One of the many perks of High Intensity Interval Training is that it enables your body to use more fat as fuel then traditional cardio does. HIIT also has the added benefit of EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption), also known as “the afterburn effect.” This means that you will continue to burn calories and increase your metabolism for up to 24 hours after your workout, whereas cardio exercises have virtually no EPOC. This happens because it takes a long time for your body to recover from the strain of HIIT.

So go ahead and give it a try! Remember to warm up for approximately 5 minutes before starting any strenuous activity and wear a heart rate monitor if you are a beginner. Good luck and feel free to post any questions on Facebook.

I always try to write my blogs in simple, understandable terms so that someone who is new to fitness would understand what I am talking about. For more scientific explanations of exactly what interval training does for your body, visit the websites below: