The Importance of a Warm Up

The other day I asked one of my tennis player clients if he had warmed up thoroughly before playing. He thought about my question for a couple seconds then he said “warm up is in the same category as flossing:  We all know we should do more of it but we never quite get around to it!”   After I stopped laughing, I explained why warming up properly and thoroughly can be the most important thing one can do to yield the best performance possible on any given day!

We all remember as youngsters jumping into a pickup game of soccer or tennis or basketball without even THINKING of warming up first. At that point in our lives tendons and ligaments were supple and flexible, the list of injuries was short (if any) and the excitement to get playing was too strong.  For Athletes 50+, the excitement to get playing is just as strong but the tendons and ligaments are not as supple or flexible and the list of injuries has grown considerably.

The benefits of a proper warm up:

A)   Increase Muscle Temperature- as this happens (up to a point), a muscle’s contractile efficiency increases and therefore its function improves.

B)   Increase in General Temperature- an increase in systemic temperature (up to a point) makes the whole system function more efficiently.

C)   Increase Blood Flow to Muscles including the Heart- as the blood vessels dilate and carry more blood to the working muscles, including the heart, more oxygen gets delivered to and more waste products are removed from those muscles.

D)   Increase Range of Motion of Joints- a proper warm up allows you to slowly and safely increase the range of motion around joints as the exercises progress from easy to hard, slow to fast and unidirectional to multidirectional.

E)   Increase Psychological Readiness (Focus)- as we go through the warm up our minds are becoming more ready for the task that’s coming up by eliminating distracting thoughts from the day’s events and visualizing what we want to accomplish during the game.

F)    Increase Neuro-Muscular Efficiency- as the warm up moves from general exercises to sport specific exercises, the nervous system/muscular system connection becomes sharper and faster resulting in better technique.

G)   Decrease Risk of Injury- all the previously mentioned benefits will result in fewer injuries to tendons, ligaments, joint structures and muscles, of which the heart is one.

H)   Decrease in Post Match Soreness- less stress at the cellular level means there will be less soreness from damaged tissues.

Guidelines for a Proper Warm up:

Generally speaking, sports that require change in direction such as racquetball, squash, soccer, basketball, etc. should follow the following sequence:

Stationary --> Low impact straight line activities --> High impact straight line activities --> Low impact lateral activities --> High impact lateral activities --> Change of direction activities --> Sport specific activities

Click here to see a sample warm up video:

Perform each activity for 30-45 seconds or for 10-15 repetitions.  Repeat as many times as you feel you need.


Moderation in All Things...

Yesterday I was on social media and I began thinking about expectations. Many of the people I see on Instagram, FB and other social media platforms display themselves as something that may seem unattainable to some of us.  They are 100% vegan, they do triathalons, their workout videos are intimidating & they have a body fat percent so low it is astounding.  And that is all great!  I admire them immensely.

 But what stops most of us from taking the time to exercise regularly or to cook healthy food for ourselves?  I think in many cases it is because we feel as if we can’t compare to these images we see regularly.  It is feeling like it is not worth doing if we can't be like these images we see!   Nothing could be further from the truth!  We don’t have to be “all in” to benefit from living a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t let feeling overwhelmed stop you from making a few small changes.  Try to begin by doing these simple things:

1.    Move Daily (walking is cheap & easy!)

2.    Drink Water

3.    Strive for your fruits & veggies

4.    Cut back on processed foods (including processed meats)

5.    Reduce sodas & sweets

 I am often reminding my clients that fitness is not a straight up hill climb, where we are always feeling great, strong, and healthy. Fitness is rolling hills.  Sometimes we are climbing up smoothly and then suddenly something pushes us down the hill, like family, work, injury, et cetera.  The important thing is that we pick ourselves up and start the climb over.  Remember, Fitness is a Journey, not a Destination

Fitness is a Journey



Why HIIT is Crucial for Menopausal and Post Menopausal Women

Ok, first question.  What is HIIT?  HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.  HIIT training involves going all out, giving 100% for a short period of time and then having short periods of rest or active recovery. Are you scared off by the thought?  Are you thinking, wait, I can’t do all that jumping, squatting, pushups, and crazy stuff?!  The good news is yes you can! And I will tell you why.  But first, let me convince you that you NEED to add this type of training to your regular workout week.

Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:

  • Losing body fat
  • strengthening the cardiovascular system
  • increasing your ability to work harder for longer
  • improving your body’s ability to utilize fat & carbohydrates for fuel
  • developing mental toughness (makes you a badass!)
  • helping maintain our fast twitch fibers that tend to slow down as we age.

Previously in my blog I talked about what happens to our body as we pass through menopause.  As you can see from the above, HIIT training helps combat the weight gain, the slowing metabolism & the loss of bone and muscle mass.

A few of the other benefits of HIIT?

  • Takes a short period of time
  • Can be done at home
  • Can be done with NO equipment

Are you convinced HIIT is good idea? Then let’s talk about some of the reservations you may have.  If you Google HIIT, you are more than likely going to see workouts which involve jumping jacks, burpees & mountain climbers which are high impact activities.   These are great for building bone density, muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate. But not everyone can take on this much impact. HIIT can also be done in a low impact form. It can be done with walking, running, swimming or biking.   See my video on low impact HIIT for ideas!

Are you convinced and ready to get started?  Then start with these tips:

  • Select some upbeat music!
  • Do an active warm up, such as brisk 5 minute walk
  • Start with short, less than 30 seconds, work intervals and allow yourself enough recovery time so your heart rate feels elevated but not out of control.  As you improve, increase your work time and decrease your rest time.
  • Start your HIIT with 10 minutes twice a week and gradually increase the duration so you can perform it for 30 minutes at least twice per week.

Remember a lot will depend on YOUR goals and YOUR body’s capabilities, but HIIT can benefit EVERY body!

Strength Training is Crucial for Women Over 50 (and under but that is not my topic!)    

When I was a young mom, people asked me why I lifted weights.  My answer was “so I can carry both my children up the stairs at the same time!” My reason now?  I still want to be a strong, independent woman!”  I love introducing my clients to the feeling of accomplishment they have as they get stronger and can do more and more without asking for help!

My friend in California recently contacted me to help her get back in the gym…WHY? I mean she is a triathlete for heavens sake!  She has run marathon upon marathon! She is fit!  She is strong!  So I asked her!  Her answer:  “Because my arms are getting jiggly!”

Seriously! Then she followed it up with this: “I was an athlete my whole life, naturally strong upper body, but even I didn't think the words of my 7th grade health teacher "muscle starts to decline after 30" would ever apply to me.”  In her words, “there's only so much you can do to your face to remain young... put that time, money & effort on your body and you'll start to FEEL like you're turning back clock as well as look it. “

As we age, we lose muscle mass, we lose bone density, our metabolism slows down.  Strength training can combat all of that, with the additional benefits of increasing flexibility, reducing joint pain, reducing peri and post menopausal symptoms, sleeping better, and if that isn’t enough, being more mentally fit, (NYT:

Luckily, strength training (also known as resistance training) does not necessarily mean joining the muscle heads at the local Gold’s Gym!  You can start to build muscle with your own body weight and slowly adding resistance as your strength increases.  Things around your house, such as cans, milk cartons and dirt bags  can be used to add weight and resistance.

My caveat?  I do recommend consulting a fitness professional for guidance on technique if you have never done resistance training before.