Hit The Ground Running: Beginner’s Guide

Getting Started:

There are many reasons people get involved with running. Whatever your reason – identify it. Is it stress relief? To feel better? To lose weight? Figure out why it’s important to you before you make a change with exercise. For me, running has always been my exercise of choice; my mode of stress relief. It’s how I decompress, distract myself, and how I feel good inside and out. Find your “why” first, then move forward.

I don’t suggest starting with a 5-mile trail run if you’ve never been into running. Start slow (literally). Begin by walking 15 minutes every other day. Once you feel comfortable with that, amp up your pace. Consciously move your legs faster. If you’re on a treadmill raise the incline. When you walk at 3 or 4 mph at level 15 on the incline, you will be cruising and fighting to keep your feet moving forward. This is a great way to build up strength, endurance and burn even more calories.

Another idea to ease into running is with something I like to call a “Couch to 5k” program. There are many safe and effective programs and apps out there to help you get started. Making a commitment to 2-3 days of fast walking or running is the best way to build up safely. As you increase frequency or intensity, I suggest focusing on the amount of time you are running, not necessarily the mileage. The mileage will start to take care of itself as you continue running consistently.

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” -Sarah Condor

Running Gear:

You don’t need specific clothing to run. Comfortable is the only prerequisite. Putting something on your body that you feel good in will set the tone for your run. As for sneakers, there are some guidelines you should follow and some recommendations I will make. I strongly suggest that you get your running shoes fitted by someone at a shoe store that can analyze the way you walk. This will determine the best shoes for fit, comfort, support, and exercise level. Some great brands for running shoes that will take care of your feet and reduce the risk of pain/injury: ASICS, Brooks, Mizuno, and New Balance. Running shoes are not cheap, but they’re a necessary investment to make your running endeavors more comfortable and effective.

One other item I recommend is an arm band for a phone or iPod so you can listen to music while you run. The band takes the hassle out of carrying something in your hands, making for a more comfortable and smoother run.  I suggest getting a waterproof band, that way any rain or sweat won’t affect your ability to enjoy music.

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” -Priscilla Welch


I believe that music can make a big difference in enjoying your runs. Everyone has different tastes and some people prefer no music at all. I have to listen to something upbeat and fun. I take my running playlists very seriously! I would caution you not to play the music too loudly, so you can hear traffic;  Safety First!

 “Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.” -Dr. George Sheehan

General Recommendations:

It may seem obvious, but stretching before and after running is key to an effective run. Working out your stiffness and tightness will help a lot in your running mechanics, as well. I suggest investing in a foam roller to work out the kinks. They are inexpensive, and an excellent tool for prepping the body for exercise!

Another recommendation is hydration. Being properly hydrated will make a big difference in performance, and how you feel during & after your run. Drinking water will go a long way toward improving your abilities. Aim for a minimum of 64 ounces of water every day. Challenge yourself to get 72 or even 80 ounces of water a day; and not just on days you run – everyday. Your body needs that constant nourishment to function at it’s best.

Lastly, realize that running isn’t for everyone. You may find that you’re not enjoying it as much as you thought.  That being said, don’t give up after 2 or 3 runs.  You may feel discomfort since you’ll be using a very different set of muscles than you are used to, recognize what is uncomfortable and learn to listen to your body.  Be careful to recognize that pain and soreness are different things, I wouldn’t want you to ignore a legitimate injury. Learning a new skill doesn’t come that easily. Give yourself a little grace and some time to, bit by bit, to let the sport grow on you naturally. The physical health and mental health benefits are incredible, and worth striving for.

To help you get inspired and motivated to do a race with friends & relatives here is a link to upcoming summer races in Lancaster. Get out there, get surrounded by like-minded people.  This will take some of the pressure off when running seems like a chore. Races are meant to be enjoyed and all accomplishments are to be celebrated!

To get more information on local area planned runs, click here

4 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier!

4 Simple Food Substitutes to Help You Eat Healthier … from Morning to Night

So you want to eat healthier, but you find it difficult and time-consuming with your busy lifestyle to prepare healthy foods…. and the thought of a “diet” is overwhelming?  Great news! There are several easy, great-tasting food substitutions that you can make to help live a healthier lifestyle. (Notice the word here is lifestyle, not “diet”). Changing even a few of your habits can save calories and provide better nutritional ingredients… while also saving you time!

Here are a just a few of my favorite food substitutions to cover you from morning to night:

 1.  Make Your Own Flavored Oatmeal

Do you often opt for pre-packaged flavored oatmeal as a quick breakfast for you or the kids?

Healthier Eating Infographic

Even though these are simple and convenient, they are usually loaded with added sugar and sodium. Instead, try making your own “overnight oats”. This offers a fantastic, healthier way to have breakfast all ready for those busy mornings.

How to: Purchase steel cut or whole oats. Then, I recommend putting together: ¼ cup of steel cut oats, ¼ cup of almond milk, ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce, ¼ cup of Greek yogurt or Siggi’s vanilla yogurt, and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Shake altogether, then refrigerate overnight. All the ingredients soak and absorb together, and can be eaten as is from the refrigerator. Or, it can be warmed up in the microwave for 30 seconds/1 minute. It’s an amazing combo of flavor and satisfies other nutritional needs, too.

Click Here for other healthy overnight oats options as well.

2. Substitute Rice Cakes for Bread

Always pack a sandwich for lunch? There’s an easy way to lighten that carb load. Try rice cakes instead of bread! Unsalted cakes are your best option. Not only is a sandwich made with rice cakes less calories and carbs, but it won’t bog you down or limit your options.

Peanut butter sandwich? Put that PB on rice cakes. Craving an Italian sub? Put some (nitrate-free) lunch meat and avocado spread on rice cakes.

In the mood for pizza? Lay on some marinara and mozzarella. Click here to learn more about the rice cakes trend.

3. Switch to Natural Peanut Butter or PB2

Love peanut butter? That’s fantastic news because it’s delicious, versatile, and can be a considerable source of protein. However, most peanut butter sold in grocery stores is laden with trans fats and excess sugar.

Make the easy switch to peanut butter labeled as “natural” or to the product PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter that can also be found in most grocery stores right in the peanut butter section.

PB2 has less sugar and fat and is even more versatile than regular peanut butter (think cooking, smoothies, etc.). Measure out and mix with water, and you’ve cut the calories of peanut butter in half.

Click here to understand the health benefits of powdered peanut butter.

4. Eat Yogurt for Your Evening “Dessert”

Need a sweet fix at night? Our registered dietitian recommends eating dairy at night as a snack. So, choose yogurt instead of cookies or ice cream. Keep in mind that “fruit on the bottom” yogurt is laden with sugar, so better choices would be Dannon Light & Fit vanilla, or Click here for ideas and brands to look out for to nail down this substitute, guilt-free.

There are SO many other ways that you can make simple substitutions for every snack or meal throughout the day, for you AND your family. If you would like some additional advice on these handy switches or additional healthy recipe ideas, please contact me in UAC Member Services or the Nutrition & Wellness Center.

My email address is [email protected], and I’d be happy to help!

Why Is Exercise So Important?

It might be easy to tell ourselves or others, “there’s just not enough time in my life for exercise”. I get it. Like so many of you, I juggle working full-time, kids’ schedules, meetings, grocery shopping, laundry, a 4:30pm dinner before two practices, and the list goes on.   It’s challenging and seems insurmountable to fit one more item on your “To Do” list.  But then I remember this excerpt from author, Iain Thomas:

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. THIS is what’s important.’”

I’m sure you would give this same advice to your loved ones, right? So, consider yourself. YOU are important. YOUR heart health is important. YOU deserve some exercise in your life!

WHY exercise is so important: 

Health Benefits Of Exercise Infographic


If you don’t make a change, things will remain the same

I often think of the word ‘Inertia’, in the law of Physics, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

This law of physics couldn’t be more factual when discussing our physical fitness. The “a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged” can especially hang in the air. Unless that state is changed by an external force (our own decisions and actions), nothing will change or improve.

The benefits of exercise are immeasurable

They truly are! Take a moment and look at the benefits of exercising regularly. There is not one prescription drug on the market that can have as positive of an effect on preventing and improving health conditions that exercise can.

Regular exercise can prevent or treat dozens of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and some cancers. It can also protect your joints, prevent falls and injuries and increase bone strength. In addition, it’s important to avoid inactivity or the amount of time spent sitting. Limiting sitting to less than six to eight hours a day is optimal. Regular exercise makes our activities of daily living much easier and provides us the ability to thrive!

We will THRIVE instead of simply survive

When we set aside a plan to exercise daily, we will reap many benefits and thrive in life, as opposed to simply try to survive. I love Arianna Huffington’s description in her book “Thrive” regarding how seriously we take the battery power sign on our smart phones. If it’s nearing “low power mode” we become a bit frantic as we search for the nearest power source to refuel and recharge.  However, in life, we rarely pause to recognize when our bodies are operating on “low power mode” and need to recharge.

If we took time to build strength, endurance and flexibility in our physical selves, the benefits spill over into other areas of our life, including our relationships, our careers, our outlook on life and even sleep patterns.

I could spend days here discussing how daily exercise improves our well-being and boosts our ability to thrive in life! You will find yourself more productive in your daily life. And your emotional health will receive a boost. Have you met a miserable individual that exercises regularly? I challenge you to find one….they are hard to find.

Ways to Start or Get Back into Exercise

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends exercising at least 150 minutes a week. Yet many of us still struggle to make this a part of our lives. Here are some ways to start an exercise routine or to get back into a routine if you have gotten off track.

Write Down Your “Why?”

Ask yourself “Why is it important to me that I start to exercise?” Are you out of breath after walking up a flight or two of stairs? Are your pants fitting more snug than previously?  Did your doctor recommend necessary health improvements that can be obtained through exercise? Or do you just want to have more energy, improve sleep quality or just feel better overall?

Having a “why” is the first intention in initiating an exercise program. Writing it down in a journal or in your “notes” in a mobile device helps you set up a foundation for staying focused on your goal. It provides the motivation to get off the couch and take the first steps toward moving more.

Take your “Why” to another level by professing it to a peer, family member, or friend; someone you know who will encourage and support you and hold you accountable. If you have a “why” you have a reason to get started.

Start by Taking “Small Steps”

Keep it simple and obtainable at first. Start with a ten-minute walk every day at a routine time that works for you. Then eventually add on more minutes. Another great way to start is by seeking the help of a professional at a fitness club, like Universal. A  personal trainer might also help, they can map out a plan to get you started on the right path with some cardio, strength and stretch workouts that are realistic for you to follow.

Find a pal, start moving and have fun with it. Make a commitment to it for one month. You’ll be happy with the difference it makes in your life!

Youth Sports Performance & Injury Prevention

Youth sports are bigger than ever in Lancaster PA. We have club teams, year-round training, and sports specialization. Long drives and endless hours on the field have become the norm. Kids do it because they love it, and parents support it because they love their kids. But here’s the problem…

Youth Sports Injuries Are Also On The Rise

Sports Safety InfographicWith all of these tools at our disposal, child obesity is at an all-time high. Youth injuries, like ACL tears and even Tommy John surgeries, are also at an all-time high.

And among all of these, the most devastating issues might be the psychological ones, like a lack of self-confidence – because you can’t leave that on the field.  So what’s the solution?

Injury Prevention Starts With Teaching Correct Movements

First and foremost, we need to teach kids how to move correctly. We’re at a point where most kids are simply ill-prepared to participate in sports. Most of them haven’t learned how to move their bodies the right way, whether they’re running, kicking, throwing, jumping, or cutting. Movement is the most fundamental piece of not only athletic development, but of general health and well-being.

How We Enhance Youth Sports Performance At UAC

This is where we come in. Here at Universal, we teach kids how to succeed on the field by first establishing a solid foundation of proper movement. From there, we build functional strength that transfers to the field and develop sound running mechanics to improve speed and agility.

The result is a stronger, faster, quicker, more explosive, and more resilient athlete. It’s not uncommon for our new athletes to improve their speed by 25%, increase their vertical jump by 8 inches, and nearly double their strength.

It’s Not Just About Kids Playing Sports

But not every kid is in it for the athletics alone, and we get that. That’s why we offer a number of different options for every kid, all the way from ages 7 to 18+. Participating in a fun and challenging workouts leads to a happier, healthier, and more confident kid who’s more likely to value their health well beyond their athletic career.

And beyond physical measures, it’s through this process that kids build newfound confidence – they realize that, if they put in the work and strive to get 1% better every day, they can reach higher and achieve more than they thought they were capable of.

Helping All Kids Succeed

Everyone wants to help their kid succeed, both on and off the field. With our help, you can give your kid an amazing opportunity to develop and thrive in a number of ways. I consider it my duty to YOU to be a driving force to improve your child’s life.

Beginners Workout Guide for New Year’s Resolutioners

How to Stay Motivated with Your Fitness & Health Goals

Are you still feeling like it’s a “New Year, New You!”? For many people, the new year included a resolution… commit to a diet, determine an exercise regimen and much more. The hope for many is that by Spring, they will feel and look their best. Does this ring a bell? Regardless of what has you motivated to take charge of your health in 2018, starting and sticking to your plan can be challenging. This is why we put together some tips to help you stay motivated and meet your goals this year!

  1. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

    Don’t reach for the stars, yet. Begin with short term, realistic goals. With exercise, start at a slow, comfortable pace. As you become more conditioned and comfortable in your workouts, up the ante and adjust goals accordingly. If weight loss is a goal for you, start by looking to lose 1-2 pounds/week. By starting small and setting realistic goals, you are setting yourself up for success.

  2. Hold Yourself Accountable

    Meeting with a fitness or wellness coach is a great idea for those who need guidance and support. Better determine your fitness short term and long term goals with a professional. Professional wellness coaches are trained to outline the best fitness plan for each and every client.

  3. Try A Group Fitness Class with A Gym Buddy

    Need a little motivation to get on track and stick to your plan? Go to a group fitness class! Better yet, go to a class with a friend! Be accountable to a buddy. Tap into the support of others and experience the motivation found in group fitness classes.  Group classes are also a benefit because if you are ever confused with a workout technique, a fitness instructor leading the class can provide alternative methods of training to help those who are just beginning their fitness journeys.

  4. Hire A Fitness Trainer at Your Local Gym

    To get started and stay motivated, you may want to hire a personal trainer to help you reach your fitness goals. Trainers are certified to help clients exercise safely. Personal Trainers are professionally taught how to best outline workout regimens for people who are just stepping into a healthier lifestyle or for those who are in need to meeting their personal fitness goals.

  5. Fit Workouts into Your Busy Day

    When your schedule does not allow you to get to the gym, you can incorporate a few simple workouts into your day anywhere you are. Using your own body weight creates a total-body workout for any ability level. Examples include:

  • Push-ups (advanced: with single leg raise)
  • Plank (advanced: side plank with raised top leg)
  • Squats (advanced: squat jumps)
  • Alternating Lunges (advanced: add a plyo jump)
  • Bent knee crunch (advanced: supine reverse crunch)

If you are at all in need of keeping to your New Year’s Resolution this year, we are happy to help you here at Universal! At Universal Athletic Club, our members’ success is our #1 priority. With a little bit of guidance, and a lot of encouragement, you too can start and stay committed to meeting your health and fitness goals in 2018!

Holiday Workout Plan: 6 Ways to Stay Motivated!

Let’s face it, the holidays challenge our willpower. We’re busier than ever, more stressed than usual, there are temptations everywhere, and so many convenient excuses for not sticking with our wellness plans. However, there is no reason we can’t stay motivated throughout the celebratory season. Consider these helpful hints.

1) Start with Setting A Holiday Health Goal

Decide ahead of time that you are going to stay healthy throughout the holidays. No matter what your personal intention is, make sure to keep it positive. Let’s say you always struggle with overdoing the Christmas cookies – your intention might be, “I am going to enjoy a moderate amount of Christmas cookies this year.” Hold yourself accountable by avoiding negative self-talk. Perhaps your issue is that you tend to replace gym time with holiday shopping. Your intention could be, “This year, I am going to stick to my gym schedule while also completing my holiday shopping along the way.” It may seem trivial, but the power of setting a positive intention is greater than you may realize, so start there.

Holiday Exercise Infographic Compressor

2) Cater Your Exercise Schedule to Your Holiday Schedule

If there’s one thing for certain, your schedule is going to get hijacked over the holidays, which means you’ll need to “think outside the box” in order to get your exercise in. For example, if you tend to keep a strict workout schedule, realize that you may need to change it up in order to accommodate for those extra holiday activities like family visits, cookie baking, holiday concerts, etc. Accept that you’ll have to skip that Monday night 6:00pm class you’ve literally never missed, and know that you can still get a workout in another day or time that week.

“I don’t have time” is just another way of saying “caring for myself isn’t a priority.” So, put your workouts and gym time on your calendar, that way your day (and your workout) won’t get away from you.

You’ll need to take a different approach, depending on your holiday schedule, whether you are “going with the flow” or needing to plan ahead. Once you’ve integrated your best exercise routine, you’ll feel good about embracing a new perspective.

3) Find Yourself a Holiday Fitness Buddy!

For many of us, working out is more fun when we have someone to train with, so find a partner! Just because you have out-of-town guests for the holiday week doesn’t mean you have to forego your exercise time. Perhaps your guest would even like to visit the gym with you? Many athletic clubs, like Universal, allow you to bring a guest.

Gym a No-Go?

If going to the gym is not an option for your buddy and they don’t want to join you at the gym, going for a walk around town or a hike on a local trail are great ways to get moving and spend quality time with those you care about.

Corporate Wellness

Also, many companies now offer corporate wellness programs  and incentives, so take advantage of that; should it be available at your workplace. It’s a fun way to connect with your co-workers on a different level. Even if there’s not a program, think about asking one or more of your co-workers to take a walk over lunch break to burn off some of those extra cookie calories!

4) Plan Your Holiday Workout, Outdoors

Here’s the deal. Spending time outside and connecting to nature is medicine for your body and soul. Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from moving. The key is to dress for the weather, because if you’re cold it won’t be enjoyable. Exercise and the outdoors were both meant to be enjoyed. So layer up, dig out your hats and gloves, step into your boots, and get going! Shoveling snow, sledding with your kids, ice- skating and skiing, etc. are great ways to stay moving throughout the holiday season and winter months. Think of it this way, the faster you move the warmer you’ll stay.

5) Find Ways to Let Go of Your Holiday Stress

One of the biggest challenges we face over the holidays is stress. Stress can do crazy things to our minds and bodies, which are, as we know, intricately connected. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to release stress and tension, in addition to playing a vital role in building and maintaining a strong immune system. Stress also tends to weaken our immune system. So, it’s actually extra important that we continue our self-care regimen throughout the holidays, which often coincides with cold and flu season.

Consider this: Exercise = less stress & stronger immune system.

If you’ve never tried a mind-body exercise, this is he perfect time to do it. The holidays are over-stimulating with music, advertisements, sales, movies, presents, food, all of which, can be quite overwhelming. Taking time away from that may be just the thing you need to stay centered and grounded in the true meaning of the season. Universal Athletic Club offers a variety of mind-body classes  to soothe your senses while cultivating strength and focus. Make time to re-connect to yourself, unwind, and let go of your holiday anxiety.

6) Portion Control Your Favorite Holiday Foods

So maybe your eating plan is going to be de-railed over the holidays…or so you think. Just because there are a lot of extra food, drinks, and sweets swirling around, doesn’t mean you have to surrender to making unhealthy choices for yourself all season. That said, it’s definitely easy to overindulge during the holidays.

Consider that it’s not only about what you eat, but how you eat it AND allow yourself to indulge somewhat without the added guilt. After all, it IS the holiday season so:

  • Don’t overload your plate.
  • Choose smaller portions so that you don’t feel obligated to “clean your plate” even though you’ve had enough.
  • Take time to savor your food.
  • Chew slowly and thoroughly.
  • Every now and then, put your fork down and take some deep breaths.
  • Ask yourself, am I still hungry? If the answer is yes, continue eating, but do not eat until you feel full. A good rule of thumb is to eat until you no longer feel hungry.

Eating can be a great experience, not just an act of filling your belly. Practice mindful consumption, you’ll enjoy your meal more and eat the amount of food that is appropriate for you.


No need to wait and make a New Year’s resolution that you may not stick to anyway. Make YOU a priority starting now and you can’t go wrong.

Universal Athletic Club offers a virtual fitness program so you can take a class anytime. So, even if you miss your favorite class, you can still workout in the studio with the guidance of a virtual instructor! We also offer a variety of classes,  where you can bring a family member, friend or guest of choice over the holiday season.

The colder months are upon us, and if you’re still not convinced that you can make it through this winter season on your own; consider joining your local fitness club,  Universal. Contact us for a consultation with a personal trainer or visit our fitness class schedule to learn more.

Incorporate HIIT Workouts – Get Fast Results


Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the quickest and most efficient way to burn body fat?”  I had to ask myself that same question 7 years ago. I was blessed with the opportunity to present on an international BODYPUMP DVD for Les Mills.  Through the combination of a great eating plan, weight training, and 12 (yes 12!) hours a week of cardio, I had gotten in the best shape of my life. During that phase of my life, I happened to have time in my schedule for all of those hours of training, so finding time wasn’t as challenging.

Fast forward 3 years, I was given yet another opportunity to present on a Les Mills GRIT DVD. I had very little time then with 2 children and my wife and I both working full time.

By then the word was out. High Intensity Interval Training, aka HIIT, was the top trend. I followed this type of workout and cut my cardio down from 12 hours per week to 3 hours per week, and added 3 HIIT workouts per week. Not only did I get in better shape, my cardiovascular conditioning was through the roof!  All of that in much less time. For me that was a huge win!

As the saying goes, “A person’s most valuable commodity is time”.  High Intensity Interval Training can swing momentum in your favor by accelerating your results more quickly. HIIT can be described as repeated bouts of high intensity exercise with strategic recovery phases. Numerous studies show that when compared to regular cardiovascular exercise, HIIT improves the body’s response to exercise, including increased fat burn, improved muscle outputs and increased post-exercise metabolism.

The concept of interval training and why it is beneficial is likely not new to most people interested in exercise. So the focus of this blog article is more about how to include and execute HIIT into your exercise routine, what it should feel like, and what to expect. So let’s dive in!

We’ll start with a general recommendation for an exercise schedule. The ACSM recommends 2 resistance training workouts per week and 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week… or 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 times a week.  Any combination of normal to vigorous activity for 3 to 5 days a week is also recommended. Recent research  by the ACSM shows that swapping two 30-minute HIIT workouts for one 60-minute cardio workout can significantly improve cardiovascular health, blood lipid profile, and body fat loss.  A simple way to look at it is that 20 % of the time you put into physical activity as HIIT creates great results.

Doing a HIIT workout does have a science to it. A well-designed HIIT regimen incorporated into your workout schedule will significantly improve the quality and outcome of your workouts.  Here are 4 key points to putting together a HIIT workout schedule:

How often?

  • New to exercise? There is no real rush to get started with HIIT. It’s a good idea to integrate HIIT after 3-6 months of regular exercise.
  • Those ready to add HIIT into their training schedule should do so 2-3 times/week.
  • When integrating HIIT, start by swapping one hour of cardio for two 20-30 minute HIIT workouts.

How intense?

  • HIIT is challenging. Your heart rate should spike to above 85% of your predicted max heart rate in the work phase, and recover to about 65% of predicted max in the rest phases.
  • If you are not using a heart rate monitor you can go by perceived exertion. On a scale of 6 to 20, where 6 is a light walk and a 20 is sprinting so hard you can barely breath, you should be around a 15-17 in the work phases of a HIIT workout.
  • You can even do a talk test. If you tried to say the alphabet you would likely have to gasp for air by the time you get to “E”!

How long?

  • A HIIT workout can be as short as 10 minutes and should not last longer than 30 minutes
  • The high intensity peaks can be as short as 5 seconds or last as long as 8 minutes.
  • It is highly recommended that you use a heart rate monitor. Warm up, then train until your heart rate is at or above 85% for a quantified time.  When you recover, stay for whatever length of time it takes to get your heart down to 55-65%. Then resume training again. It’s best to do this with complete rests between sets.
  • Researchers have used work/rest ratios that range from 3:1, 2:1, 1:1, and 1:2. All have been proven effective in creating the desired effect.

Mode of exercise

  • Exercises that integrate your upper and lower body while increasing heart rate are excellent options for HIIT workouts.
  • Great examples include: Aerodyne bikes, Rowers, and Elliptical Cross Trainers
  • Simple bodyweight exercises include sprints, mountain climbers, and battle rope drills
  • Several workout programs here at UAC include fantastic HIIT training, such as:
    • Boxing – Boxing inspired, interval-based workouts done in authentic “rounds” with strategic rest periods
    • SPRINT – UAC’s cycle workout dedicated to high intensity interval training
    • Les Mills GRIT – 3 class types include GRIT Strength, GRIT Plyo, and GRIT Cardio. This offers 30 minutes of training where you push to your max in peak intervals and strategic recovery.
    • UAC Bootcamp Series – Full body high intensity workouts in a team training based environment.

So if you’re looking to shed some body fat and really crank up your endurance, you’ll want to incorporate HIIT into your workout schedule. Some precautions to this type of training include those who are obese, hypertensive, pregnant, or deconditioned. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying this type of exercise. If you’re ready to put your foot on the gas pedal, our UAC trainers and coaches are here to help. Just reach out to us with any questions!

how to prevent IT band syndrome

Preventing IT Band Syndrome: Advice for Runners

It’s that time of year where runners are training for their Fall half-marathons, triathlons and races; with training comes the risk for serious runner injuries. One of the most harmful and common injuries for runners is iliotibial band syndrome.

At Universal we have plenty of members and staff who are active runners. Which is why we wanted to provide some preventative measures and advice for our local runners out there!

Where Exactly is Your Iliotibial Band?

The Iliotibial Band (IT Band), is the tissue that connects the muscles of the gluteal region (gluteus maximus and gluteus medius) to the tendon on the outside of tibia bone right at the knee joint. The IT Band is made up of connective tissue that is very dense, much like a tendon. For a better visual, view the featured diagram below.

The main function of the IT Band is to allow the gluteal or hip muscles attached to stabilize the pelvis and knee while standing, walking, and running.

What Causes IT Band Syndrome?

Most people are more predisposed to the syndrome than others due to body mechanics and flexibility issues, but there are a number of other contributing factors that can lead runners being subjected to IT Band Syndrome.

Factors that Cause ITBS:
  • Running surfaces
  • Change in running speeds
  • Over training (increasing mileage too much too fast)
  • Improperly-fitted shoes
  • Improper warm-up and stretching
  • Over pronation of the ankle/feet, knee valgus (bow knee)

What Are Indicators of Band Syndrome?

In most cases pain is absent at rest, but tenderness may be felt along the outside of the knee at the tendon attachment. Typically an individual suffering from Band Syndrome can remain at rest for a period of time until the symptoms go away, only for the pain to return once training resumes. The more overuse, the worse the injury becomes.

Symptoms May Include:
  • Pain over the outside of the knee, which will get progressively worse over time
  • Tightness of the IT Band, hip flexors and calves
  • Discomfort with walking or running downhill or downstairs along the outside of knee
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), liac crest, Gluteus medius, Tensor fascia latae, Gluteus maximus,Vastus lateralis, Iliotibial band, Tibia tubercle, Patella, Inflammation of the iliotibial band (ITB) causes outer knee pain and possible pain in the hip, MendMeShop TM ©2011

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), liac crest, Gluteus medius, Tensor fascia latae, Gluteus maximus,Vastus lateralis, Iliotibial band, Tibia tubercle, Patella, Inflammation of the iliotibial band (ITB) causes outer knee pain and possible pain in the hip, MendMeShop TM ©2011

How Can You Treat ITBS?

Beginning Recovery Stage:
  1. First and foremost, while running, as soon as you feel a sharp pain on the outside of your knee that doesn’t go away, stop running.  Do not attempt to run through this injury. You will only make things worse.
  2. The next step is to get home, rest, apply ice, and try a gently friction massage of the tendon.
  3. Take some time off from running to allow the inflammation of the tendon to go down.
  4. Do cross training such as elliptical, bike or swimming as long as there is no pain.
Long Term Recovery Stage:
  • Slowly ease back into running. Do not over train.
  • Use an IT Band strap, athletic tape or Kinesio tape, which can all be purchased at most local drugstores.
  • Icing may continue after runs and stretching, as well as foam rolling, both of which are excellent ways to continue the healing process.

How Can You Prevent ITBS?

Appropriating Body Mechanics & Corrective Footwear:

As mentioned before, body mechanics are important. Make sure you are not over pronating when running or bowing your knees can be a good way to prevent ITBS. Having a Physical Therapist evaluate for these issues can be helpful. Make sure you are fitted with the correct shoes and possibly orthotics may be necessary.

Do Not Over Train Your Body:

Over training is another huge mistake runners make. It is important to slowly increase your mileage per week over time if you are training for a long distance run. Also, watch your pace. Do not go out too fast too quickly. It takes time for your body to adjust to the rigors of both speed and endurance of running. Be patient!

Practicing Specifically Designed Exercise & Stretching Regimens:

Exercises are of utmost importance. A high percentage of people (even athletes) have weak hip muscles, especially hip abductor muscles that control movements of the leg outwards and helps stabilize the pelvis.  This is why so many people suffer with ITBS. At Universal, we suggest these 7 exercises specifically designed to help strengthen your hip muscles in order to improve your IT Band function. Additionally, foam rolling and stretching are important, but not addressing the core strengthening of the hip muscles will not solve your problems with the ITB. If you are a local runner and need specific assistance at any time, check out UAC Member Services and learn how a Personal Trainer can help you with your needs.

In conclusion, the IT Band is a very complicated, large connective tissue that is extremely important to monitor. It’s important to listen to your body and take the proper precautions. Happy Running!

4 Easy Steps for Starting Exercise as an Older Adult

Daily Exercising = Healthy Aging

You have probably heard the old adage,“It’s never too late to start.” This phrase could be applied to many activities and habits. However, the most significant ending to this statement, would be “…a consistent exercise program.”  Research has shown, that the benefits of physical activity are great. In fact, daily exercise for older adults serves as a prescription for preventing, treating, and managing chronic diseases and conditions including the leading causes of death in the United States, heart disease and cancer.

Improvements to one’s physical health can be made at any age. In general, people age differently from one another; factors that play a key role in this are overall lifestyle choices and irreversible genetics. We cannot control our genetics, so one would suggest modifying our lifestyle habits, which gives us the best chance of survival.


A few lifestyle factors that make the biggest difference in physical health are abstaining from smoking, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet (consisting of whole foods), managing stress, monitoring cardiovascular markers including blood pressure and blood lipid profiles, and regular physical activities — all of which are great examples.

My Personal Experience with Older Adults & Exercise Benefits

Working as a certified Exercise Physiologist for the past 20 years, I have witnessed true success stories in older adults (65 years and older) who have survived accidents they should not have. However, because they were physically active prior to the accident, they survived Through rehabilitation, they are thriving once again.

I’ve seen older adults who exercise and easily perform their Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) which has significantly helped their quality of life. Aren’t we are looking to move through our day with better ease? I would vote “yes!.”

I’ve watched numerous joint replacements with successful outcomes because the patients were committed to exercise routines for older adults prior to surgery. As one’s age increases, the risk of hip fractures increases by 95% resulting from a fall. One hip fracture can lead to numerous other health issues.

There are many ways to decrease your chance of falling, but physical activity is amongst the most impactful.  A well-rounded exercise routine for older adults is essential.  Exercise for older adults may include incorporating cardiovascular exercise such as:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Resistance training
  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Mobility
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time training.

While this might feel overwhelming, here are a steps to help keep you in line with your goals when choosing/re-starting your an older adult exercise program

Steps to Starting Exercise Routines for Older Adults

  • STEP ONE: Consult with your physician and inquire on whether there will be any negative affects to your exercise regimens based on the medication that you are taking.
  • STEP TWO: Commit to three months of regular exercise. When starting out, prepare your mind that you are going to adopt this new habit for 12 weeks and stick with it. Set a goal to be as consistent as possible. Believe it or not, by week 12, you will notice some differences in your quality of sleep, energy levels, overall mood, and an increase in stamina.
  • STEP THREE: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days of the week (or 150 total minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity). What does moderate-intensity mean? It is an exercise intensity that is hard enough to break a sweat, but you could still carry on a conversation with your walking partner. You could break it into two 15-minute bouts per day, depending on your schedule.
  • STEP FOUR: Diversify your exercise routine types. Studies indicate that a combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training (2-3x/week), flexibility/mobility training and balance exercises yield the biggest benefits to one’s health and well-being. Focus on one area to begin the first few weeks, possibly aerobic exercise such as walking.

My top recommendation? Try a SilverSneakers class. I know what many may be thinking, “Those classes are for the elderly, and I am not in that category. I may age ten years just by trying a class,” but I encourage you to have an open mind and try a new class. You may be surprised!

These classes are designed to target those skills and functions that decline with age, including balance, strength, muscular endurance, agility, coordination, reaction time, flexibility and mobility. My goal in every class is to incorporate a variety of regimens to execute the best exercises for older adults.


7 Reasons Why Exercise Programs for Older Adults Are Beneficial

Healthy Aging Includes Exercise

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

Physical Activity is Essential for Healthy Aging

  1. Cardiovascular-respiratory health: The heart, a muscular organ, is the most vital part of the human body. The lungs, which provides oxygen to the heart, is extremely important as well. As we age, the efficiency of the heart and lungs decreases; however, regular cardiovascular exercise slows the effects of aging.  Aim for accumulating 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week  such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise at an intensity to break a sweat, but at a pace where you can still hold a conversation with a friend. I could sit here for hours and list all the ways that cardiovascular exercise improves the function of the heart, lungs and related components , but to cut to the chase…it is essential to do — almost as essential as breathing!


  1. Psychological/Emotional well-being: Both aerobic training and resistance training yield significant improvements for depression and anxiety. Both also increase in quality of life including perceptions of body pain, vitality, social functioning, morale and sleep quality.
  2. Free Insurance: Think of exercise as additional health insurance. If you need unexpected surgery, joint replacements or experience an accident, the more fit you are prior to injury or surgery the quicker you’ll be on the road to recovery.
  3. Cognitive benefits: Studies show, a combination of aerobic training and resistance training decreases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
  4. Weight management: As we age, our metabolism with naturally slow. Therefore, without mindful eating and regular exercise, it becomes very easy for the pounds to creep upwards. Exercise is a natural way to burn calories and preserve muscle mass. The less weight our skeletal system carries, the happier our joints.
  5. Fall prevention: More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Hip fractures can lead to a lengthy list of undesirable conditions and a severe decrease in quality of life and independence. Keeping bones strong through weight bearing exercise and resistance training, maintaining agility, reaction time, joint mobility, kinesthetic awareness and balance are all important factors in preventing a fall from occurring. Luckily, these areas can be improved because exercise does prevent falls in older adults.
  6. Chronic disease and disability prevention: A regular exercise program, 150 minutes per week, will minimize the physiological changes due to aging and a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity and exercise for older adults will increase the active life expectancy while limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabilties including certain types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression, and many others.

Any movement is better than NO movement! Exercise guidelines for older adults emphasize that for most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.

The guidelines stress that if older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.  It all starts with a single movement!

Start today, by trying one of our SilverSneaker classes.