Rondeau Group Fitness 2017 Season

I’m here with some exciting news today — particularly exciting if you’re local to the Boston area and also if you’re a Boston mom!

I’m excited to announce that the 2017 season of Rondeau Group Fitness starts up next Tuesday, June 6. I am so ready for a summer of workouts with a kick ass group of ladies who work so hard each and every class! And to top off my excitement, this year we have a pretty awesome addition to the schedule: Strong Mamas stroller bootcamp classes!

I’m so excited about the new stroller bootcamp, and I hope local mamas are as well. This will be a place where you can bring your little one along for the ride, get a great workout in, and be a part of a great community of strong, like-minded mamas who want to show their little ones what it means to be STRONG!

The schedule for our general RGF bootcamp classes will remain the same (Tuesday and Thursday mornings), and RGF Strong Mamas will meet on Tuesday and Friday. The full schedule is as follows:

RGF Bootcamp: Tuesday/Thursday at 6:30 am, Fallon Field, Roslindale (Boston). 

RGF Strong Mamas: Tuesday/Friday at 11 am, Fallon Field, Roslindale (Boston). 

For more details, click on over to the Group Fitness tab above!

RGF is a bootcamp class that is based around positivity, support, and community. We cheer each other on, we have a great time, and we work hard above all else! We train with resistance bands, medicine balls, weights, battle ropes, and other equipment for a full body workout every time, with a whole lot of variety. You won’t find another cookie cutter circuit bootcamp class here– we thrive on fun and creativity, and a little bit of friendly competition occasionally!

Bootcamp collage

The summer months are one of my favorite time of year, and not just because of the weather. I absolutely love watching the RGF ladies work hard throughout the summer, meeting goals and taking pride in the progress that they make. This summer will be no different, with many returning faces who are ready to start up again.

And for those who may be nervous or unsure of their abilities, don’t let the word “bootcamp” scare you off! RGF classes are for ALL abilities. Everything is able to be modified to fit different fitness levels, and I am extremely focused on keeping exercises pain free with good form.

Spread the word, join us, and bring your friends! Can’t wait to see some of you out there next week!

RondeauGroupFitness

Lift Weights Faster. But How?

If you do a lot of reading about strength training, or are familiar with the female strength and conditioning world, you’ve probably heard Jen Sinkler‘s famous line. When asked how she works out, her reply was “I lift weights”. Well what about cardio? “I lift weights faster”.

Steph Deadlift

Weight room and cardio combined? Sign me up. 

“Lift weights faster” has become sort of a creed in the fitness world, and for good reason. It’s not always necessary to spend long, drawn out sessions on the treadmill or elliptical in order to get your cardio in. It’s just as easy to get cardio in by simply “lifting weights faster”, if that’s more your speed (pardon the pun). If you enjoy your time on the treadmill as a way to de-stress, that’s one thing. But if you’re hating every second of it, and doing it just because you think you need to, well, you’re in luck.

But when many people hear this, they don’t quite understand what this  means. Do you literally just lift your weights at lightning speed? Won’t that lead to bad form and maybe injuries? And won’t you look just a little bit ridiculous?

So today, we’re going to get into a few of the ways in which I typically “lift weights faster”. These are great ways to sneak workouts in when I don’t have a ton of time, but you can also stretch them out and get in a nice long, full workout as well.

When I’m doing one of these types of workouts, weights are not at or near my max. I keep the weights to a level where they are challenging for the sets that I will be doing, but remember that you’re generally doing more reps, and that these are not true strength building days.

Ladder Sets

I use ladder sets when I am really strapped for time and have a couple of exercises that I can string together for full body workout in just a few minutes. I’ll also use a ladder set as a finisher at the end of a strength day, doing just one round for speed. For a ladder set, you will start with a higher number of reps — let’s go with 10, for this example. Perform 10 reps of exercise A, 10 reps of exercise B, then 8 of each, then 6 of each, all the way down to 2. After you reach 2 reps of each exercise that you have chosen, start again with 2 and build your way back up to 10.

The beauty of ladder sets is that you have to so much freedom to get creative. For heavier exercises, I would stick with the 10-2 rep scheme. But for more cardio based exercises, such as body weight jump squats, or KB swings, you could go into a larger rep range, doing 20, then 15, 10, and 5 reps before building back up.

Some suggested pairings for ladder sets, although the possibilities are endless:

– Ring assisted pistol squats with ring inverted rows

– Jump squats with skater jumps

-Kettlebell swings

-Burpees

-Bulgarian split squats with elevated push ups.

Super Set Everything

To lift your weights faster, you can also just super set everything, cutting way down on the rest and recovery time in between sets. Remember, this is not done at max weight loads, since you’ll risk injury without the proper recovery between sets/exercises. To superset simply means to do two separate exercises back to back, generally with opposing muscle groups, without resting in between. Say you have 8 exercises that you plan on doing in your lift. You can superset these into 4 sets of exercises, alternating between each set of 2 with little to no rest, instead of resting between each set of each of your 8 exercises. Some common lifts that I superset are:

-Barbell Squat with overhead press

-RDL (romanian deadlift) with bent over dumbbell row

-Barbell reverse lunge with push up

Active Recovery Between Sets

This will vary slightly from supersets, although you’re still completing sets of two separate exercises back to back. However, the difference here is that the “in between” exercise is more of an active recovery than an actual lift. You’ll be keeping your body moving and heart rate up, but this secondary exercise will be more about recovery and mobility than building strength. This is done in the same manner as super sets, in which you complete the active recovery exercise between lift sets instead of resting. Some common active recovery exercises that I use between lifts are:

-Spiderman Lunges

-Medicine ball lunge/twist

-Downdog/Push-up/Up-dog repetitions

-Body weight deep side lunges

You can also check out this post for some additional hip mobility exercises that you could use here as well.

Barbell Complexes

Barbell complexes are probably one of the most common ways to “lift weights faster” in the strength training world. All it takes is a barbell loaded up with relatively light weight, and a string of movements that you’ll do with little to no rest. I usually try to string together about 5 different movements, and will go for 4-5 rounds of a complex. These can be extremely taxing, so go lighter on the weights than you think you might need to — maybe even just the barbell for the first time you try one of these. Especially if you’re stringing together both upper and lower body  movements, you’ll need that weight to be fairly light to get through all of the reps with little to no rest.

A barbell complex will get your heart pumping and breath elevated like no other, so get ready to work!! Below is an example that I’ve posted previously, but as with the other ideas here, there are endless combinations you can do for an effective workout. Just remember to rest thoroughly between each complex, and work with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form for every exercise. If you feel yourself fatiguing to the point where form is compromised, stop and rest in the middle of a complex, and/or lessen your weight/reps. 

barbell_complex1

Readers: In what form do you prefer your cardio? Weight room or traditional? 

Is It Time To Change Your Perspective?  

Before I got pregnant, I was deadlifting 240 lb. I was muscular, strong, and took pride in my abilities in the weight room. I had glutes that I was proud of, glutes that were strong enough for heavy squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. 

Before I got pregnant, I could once do 8 unassisted chin ups. I did chin ups and pull ups nearly every day, just for fun. 

Before I got pregnant, I could run the full stadium at Harvard without breaks, and would do so at 6:30 am. 

Before I got pregnant, I could overhead press 85 lb. 

Now? I haven’t set foot in the weight room since I was about 8 months pregnant. I haven’t touched a barbell in months. I’ve been on exactly one run, and I can no longer do even one unassisted chin up. 

You might think I’m upset about this. 

And I could be, if it weren’t for one simple thing: perspective. 


Sure, I may be lifting right now with a 15 lb, a 16 kg (35 lb), and a 24 kg (53 lb) kettlebell, but here’s where perspective comes in: 

That 15 lb kettlebell felt heavy to me after my C-section and 6 week post op recovery time. I remember picking it up and being shocked and saddened at how heavy it felt. 

Now? It’s light again, and I now use it for warm up movements, like I used to. Progress. 

That 35 lb KB? That one felt like a monster after my postpartum recovery. I remember the first time I tried to do goblet squats with it, I felt like my core would never support me again. Now? They’re easy. It’s a moderate weight, and I’m using it for many movements, both single leg and double leg. I’ve moved on from using it for my KB swings, because I finally need something heavier. Progress. 

That 53 lb KB? Forget about that one after recovery– that felt like a dream and a lifetime away. Now? I’m using it for single leg RDLs, goblet squats, and KB swings. Progress. 

My push-ups have gotten stronger, my endurance better. 

My chin ups? Yes, those are coming back too, slowly but surely. 

None of these weights would have made me proud before. They would have been warm ups, helping me to prep and groove patterns for heavier weights. 

Now though? I am so proud of where I’m at and how far I’ve come so far. Considering I still haven’t stepped foot in a gym, and my workouts mostly consist of a few 20-30 min bursts throughout the week, I think I’ve done quite well. I may not be maxing out my big lifts anytime soon, but I’m seeing consistent progress, and that’s really all that matters. 

It doesn’t matter how much you could lift before X event, or how fast or long you could run, or how many muscle ups you could do. Life happens, we have ups and downs, and that’s just something we need to accept. If we’re always thinking back to our best and comparing ourselves now, that’s not fair. Your mind and your body change as you move throughout life. My body is not the same body that dead lifted 240 lb– it’s been through a whole lot since then, so how can I keep comparing my self now to myself then? In order to be fair to myself, I have to shift my perspective. I have to focus on where I’m at now, instead of where I was. 

As life changes, some obstacles get bigger, some get smaller, and some new ones crop up all together. With all of these things that change us, our bodies, our minds, it’s unfair to expect things to always go back to some ideal moment that you once had. I am far, far from that deadlift max right now. But to expect that from this body, my now body? Well that would be unfair. 

So if you’re feeling like you’re failing because you can’t do something you once could, or because you don’t look like you once did, think again. Think of what your body and mind have been through since that time, and focus on the progress you’re making now. Shift your perspective to the present, and you’ll probably find that you’re doing a lot better than you thought! 

Progress isn’t always perfect, and it’s not always linear. It’s not always even obvious. But take a moment to shift your perspective, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress that you’ve made in this “now” version of you. 

Change the conversation 

For those of you who have daughters, they are listening. 

If you don’t have a daughter, but you spend any amount of time around young girls, they are listening. 

Whether she’s 10 hours old, 10 weeks old, or 10 years old, she’s listening. And it’s time to change the conversation. 


My daughter Isabelle is almost 3 months old. She doesn’t talk yet, of course, but she listens to me talk all day long. She’s picking up language and building connections in her brain, connections that will someday allow her to not only understand what I’m saying, but to speak words herself. And I want to make sure that the words that she’s understanding, and the connections she is making, have nothing to do with my self worth due to the way my body looks. 

The other day, we were in the kitchen, and I was chatting away like always. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in!” I smiled at her. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in so that I don’t get f…..” 

I looked at her looking at me, and stopped my sentence short. Of course the F word I was about to say, I’m embarrassed to admit, was “fat”. After all that I preach about working for health and energy for yourself– I was about to reduce that all to that one demeaning word. 

No, she can’t really understand yet what “fat” means. She can’t say the word, or tell me what it means. But she’s listening. 

In that moment I realized that my responsibility in that conversation is so much bigger than how I feel on any given day. It’s so much bigger than anything to do with me, because how I finish that sentence over time could determine how she feels about herself for the rest of her life. I make a point to tell her daily how strong she is. How smart she is. How brave and successful she’ll be some day. Yes, I also tell her she’s cute and pretty, but those are not the focus of my time with her. But how often do I speak about myself that way to her? It can’t be “mama needs to workout because she doesn’t want to get fat”. It needs to be “mama wants to workout because it makes her feel strong”. “Mama gets to exercise and it makes her feel powerful”. 

We have to change the conversation, and it starts with how we speak to ourselves. 

My body is not the same after having Isabelle, and it might not be for quite some time.  My weight is exactly where it used to be, but everything else isn’t. My body shape and composition has changed, and there are days that I struggle with how much work it will take to build my strength back up. 

But I can’t put that on her. She’s listening. 

She’s listening to every mention of the word fat, to every mumble about my glutes disappearing. She’s watching every time I look at my belly in the mirror or give my thighs a little squeeze. Those things might mean nothing to her now, but over time they will. And the last thing I want is to someday walk in on her giving her own thighs a disappointing squeeze, or offering up a sharp criticism of her abs. 

We are so much more than that. We are so much more than hips or bellies or cellulite. We are strong, independent, brave, powerful, intelligent, and kind. We are generous, thoughtful, inquisitive, and honest. All of these things are what I want Isabelle to strive for–  not how much fat she can pinch between her fingers. It’s up to me (us) to change this conversation and to take our bodies out of it completely. 

Because we are so much more than that. 

And they are listening. 

Don’t Fall For These Holiday Health Scams

Oh, the holidays. 

The 6 weeks out of the year between Thanksgiving and New Years when health and fitness scams are at an all time high. 

Ate too many Christmas cookies? Lose all the weight and 10 lb more by following this diet! 

Went a little too wild at one too many holiday parties? Detox with this magical tonic and lose 20 lb! Oh, you don’t need to lose 20 lb? YES YOU DO. 

Too much pie and not enough exercise? Just follow my 1000 burpees-a-day plan and you’ll be shredded in no time! 

Exaggeration, yes. But unfortunately, none of these are that far off on what people will try to sell you around this time. So today, we’re talking about those health lies and fitness scams, and how to spot them. 


The first, and most obvious rule is this: 

If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. 

Even though that’s a rule that most of us follow in our daily lives, when it comes to health and fitness, many people have a tendency to buy into hype and promises, no matter how far fetched a plan may seem. I think it’s just because we all want to believe that there’s an easy way out there. But trust me, if there was a magic pill, diet, or shake, it wouldn’t be a secret. 

Remember The Cookie Diet? Bingo. 

If they claim extraordinary results with minimal effort, it’s too good to be true. Likewise, if they promise something that makes you think “why doesn’t everyone use this if it works so well?”, it’s too good to be true. And if it comes in pill or powder form, you guessed it, it’s too good to be true.

Other red flags for health scams:

Specific results promised within a specific time frame. 

The truth is, every human body is different and responds differently to fat loss techniques. What works for your best friend may not work for you and vice versa. Just because Joe Schmoe got X results with Y strategy, you are in no way guaranteed the same results. In fact, I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results.

So any plan or trainer that tells you that if you follow these rules for a specified amount of time, you’ll see these specific results? Yeah, they’re lying. 

Lose 10 lb in 2 weeks with this special diet! This, my friends, is a scam. Run away, and run away fast. 

You must do THIS exact thing to see results.  

Along those same lines, any trainer who tells you that you have to work out at a certain time of day, or eat a specific breakfast every day, or do one particular exercise in order to reach your goals is not worth your time or precious money. There is no one size fits all option when it comes to health and fitness, and if your trainer treats you exactly the same as every other client they have, you’re getting a raw deal. Health and fitness, and especially fat loss, cannot be cookie cutter from person to person. 

A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life. 

Again, there is no magic. If you’re told that you can reach your body goals by taking a pill or mixing up some powder every morning, and that you don’t have to change anything else about your life, don’t even give it a second thought. It does not work, I promise. Even if it’s backed by your favorite celebrity or fitness guru, it Does. Not. Work. Fat loss and body change is hard work, and it’s an all encompassing project. Fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, environment– it all plays a role. And anyone who tells you different, will also probably try to sell you on my next red flag… 

Using the phrase long and lean. 

Want to spot a fitness con artist in one second? Look for someone who promises that their workout plan will make your muscles long and lean. This is impossible, yet it’s a goal sought after by many. You cannot make your muscles (or your arms, legs, or torso) longer. You cannot buy yourself the body of a ballet dancer if you’re not genetically built like one already. This is one of the oldest fitness scams in the book, but unfortunately many women still fall into the long and lean trap. Can we let this one go in 2017, please? 

Detox

The word alone makes me twitch. Anyone who tells you that you need their product to help your body detox from all of the sinful torture you’ve put it through is flat out lying to you. Human bodies have evolved to have a masterful detoxification system– it’s called your liver. You do not need to starve and survive on juice for 3 days in order to take advantage of this wonderful organ of yours, it does its job quite well on its own! Imagine that. To put it quite simply, I’m pretty sure the phrase “juice cleanse” is one of the biggest assaults against the true health and fitness industry. Don’t waste your time, money, or sanity, especially not in the name of health. 

So with all of these scams and lies out there, how can you reach your body and health goals? Good old fashioned hard work. It’s not catchy, it’s not sexy, and there’s certainly not anything to trademark. But there are real life results that you can’t get from a pill or powder. It’s hard, and it takes time, but you can do it. The right way. 

Workout Wednesday: Pregnancy Safe Circuits

So, yep, you guessed it… still no baby!

I’m now 5 days beyond my due date, which is pretty normal for a first time mama, but I’m getting a little impatient nonetheless! I can’t wait to meet this little lady and to start to learn all about her quirks, her personality, and who she’s going to turn into.

If you read my post a couple of weeks ago about my workout progression throughout pregnancy, you should remember that I’ve remained pretty active this whole time. I started out doing pretty much everything I was pre-pregnancy, minus the extremely heavy, max-0ut lifts on my bigger compound lifts. That worked for me for a while, until my body started to tell me to slow down and take it down a few notches. Slowly, this has gotten me to where I am today — long walks (but not too long, this bladder being crushed by a baby’s head can only take so much!), and some light circuits at home. Yes, I’m still getting in some near daily exercise, but it certainly is a far cry from my normal routine. For instance, I went out for a slow but steady hike on Monday, and didn’t crank it up the inclines like I normally would.

I find that I feel better overall if I move though — walks are crucial to keeping my legs and hips from feeling too tight, and light circuits just help me to feel more energized during this time when my body is literally sustaining a full sized baby!

I thought I’d share a couple of quick at home circuits that are safe for pregnancy, in case there are any other soon-to-be-mamas out there who can’t quite figure out a routine. But the great thing is that these can be used by anyone — they are great circuits for beginners, and the intensity can be ramped up for anyone looking for a quick at-home workout when they don’t have time for the gym.

My staples throughout the end of this pregnancy have been goblet squats and incline push ups. I’m trying to keep these arms as strong as possible, and trying to maintain what muscle I can in my lower body without doing too much or causing pain. My ability to do single leg exercises for lower body differs by the day, and really just depends on the amount of SI joint (where the pelvis meets the lower part of your spine) pain I’m having at any given time.

Also, you’ll note that I do include glute bridges here, which require me to lay on my back. It is a common rule for pregnant women to avoid laying on their back for extended periods of time, but has been found to be safe for a few minutes as long as you feel ok doing it. If your doctor has given you a strict “no”, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing these, please substitute a different exercise such as fire hydrant kicks on all fours to attack those glutes.

pregnancy-safe-circuit-1

pregnancy-safe-circuit-2

Circuit #1:

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell and/or set of medium dumbbells, chair or bench

Exercises:

Goblet Squat: Holding the KB or one dumbbell directly in front of and against your chest, feet about shoulder width apart and feet turned slightly out. Squat down between hips, keeping core engaged and back flat.

Incline push up: Push up on bench or chair, heights suitable to your fitness level.

OHP: Overhead Press. Stand with core engaged and a dumbbell in each hand, or KB in one hand. If using dumbbells, alternate pressing overhead with palms facing away from you. If using KB, finish reps on one side before moving to other side.

Feet Elevated Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with both feet up on chair or bench, scoot your butt close to the bench. Driving your heels down into the bench, squeeze your glutes and lift hips up so that you form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Donkey Kicks: Starting on all fours, alternate kicking each leg straight back, squeezing each glute with kick. Make sure to keep core engaged and back flat.

Circuit #2

Equipment Needed: Resistance band loop and/or resistance band mini loop

Exercises: 

Band Squats: If using mini band, place band around ankles. If using full size band loop, hold one end, and loop the remaining band around the outsides of your feet, so that you are standing inside loop, hands by your waist. Squat to your normal position.

Side Kick Outs: Keeping band or mini band in the same position, start with both knees slightly bent. Alternate kicking each leg out to the side against the resistance of the band.

Band Shuffles: Keeping band or mini band in same position, bend to about a quarter squat position. Shuffle sideways for 10 steps, then back in the opposite direction for 10 steps.

Band Pull Aparts: Grasp band in both hands, directly in front of chest with arms outstretched. Keeping arms straight, bring hands away from each other to the sides, essentially pulling band across your chest. Squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades at the end of the motion.

Band Split Squats: Split Squat with resistance band under front foot. Grasp band near knee, calf, or ankle; holding the band lower for more resistance.

Band Rows: If using full band loop, stand on band with both feet. Keeping back flat, hinge at hips and bend forward. Grasp band low, and complete bent over row with both arms. If using mini band, start in lunge position with band under front foot. Grasp band with opposite hand and perform single arm rows for all reps before switching foot/hand.

Again, these can be great little at home circuits for anyone, beginner, pregnant, or just someone looking for a quick session on a busy day!

Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll be back with some news for you very soon!

 

 

Wellness vs. Fitness: What’s The Difference?

A couple months ago when I completed my Health Coaching certification, I had quite a few questions about what that meant. What is a health/wellness coach? Is that like a personal trainer? Is it a nutritionist? Is it a life coach?

Well, the answer is none of the above, but parts of all of the above. A wellness coach is someone who helps their clients to find optimal mind and body wellness, often helping them with and focusing on inner behavior change. This can differ from a personal trainer or nutritionist who may just “prescribe” a workout or nutrition plan, with change coming from a strictly external source (the plan) rather than being driven by the client (changes in motivation, etc.)

And the truth is, neither of these are better or worse, but one method or the other does tend to work better for different people. Some have no trouble with the motivation or desire to modify their lifestyle, and for those people, a simple plan may be the best bet. But for those who also need a little bit of help finding their motivation, finding their drive towards making those behavior changes, and realizing that all of this lies within themselves, a wellness or health coach could be a wonderful fit.

Another question I get a lot is: So what does wellness mean anyway? Isn’t that just the same thing as fitness? To me, fitness is purely physical. It is the number of reps you can do, the speed at which you can finish a particular distance, or the number of pounds you can lift off the floor. It has to do with specific markers based on your size, gender, body type, training style, and training age. Fitness helps us to compare ourselves and others objectively, with hard numbers and data to back up those comparisons (whether we should be comparing at all is a completely different blog post!).

On the other hand, wellness encompasses so much more than the statistics and numbers that are utilized in fitness. Wellness incorporates certain things within yourself that can’t necessarily be measured in hard numbers or compared objectively to someone else. Your motivation, your past experiences with weight/fat loss, your attitude toward your ability to achieve your goals, your belief in your ability to stick with lifestyle changes in the future, and so on. There is so much that goes into wellness, beyond just how many pounds you can lift or how fast you can run hill repeats. When we’re talking wellness, your mind and your body are not mutually exclusive of each other. Instead, they work together, balancing each other on those inevitable days when you’ll have set backs or less than stellar performances.

what-does-wellness

So as you can see, while I do have my own answer to the wellness vs. fitness question, I also often turn it around on the question-asker. And that’s what I’m going to do today. What I want to know from all of you is what does wellness mean to you? And how does it differ from fitness (if you indeed see a difference?)

I will be taking a short break from all of my offerings on the blog (individual programs, personal training, wellness coaching) since I’m 40+ weeks pregnant at this point, but soon all of these services will be back in action! And during this time, aside from being a sleep deprived mommy monster, I want to reevaluate exactly what you all want to get out of this blog and coaching if you’re so inclined.

So please, in the comments below, let me know!

What does wellness mean to you and how does this differ from fitness exclusively?

What road blocks do you see in reaching optimal wellness for yourself?

What aspect of wellness do you find most difficult?

What aspect of wellness do you find most rewarding in your life?

Thanks so much for taking the time, and enjoy your day everyone!