Why Wait ’til January?


As you head out to just about anywhere this time of year, you’re sure to see and hear the unmistakable signs of the approaching Holiday Season – the food, the traditions, the food, the decorations, the parties, the food, the gifts, family, friends, the food. Did I mention the food? Right alongside commercials for crescent rolls and the perfect “gift for him under $50”, are ads specifically designed to make you think ahead to January and loosing the average 7 pounds that the typical American puts on during the holiday season.

January doesn’t have to be the start of diet season! Incorporate some of the following tips into your daily life NOW so that by the time the ball drops at midnight New Years Eve and everyone is talking about their future health goals, you’ll be well on your way to making 2014 your healthiest year yet!

  1. Portion Control. Prepackaged weight loss programs often feature food plans that incorporate a wide variety of food – from pizza to cheeseburgers, even desert- that can be eaten while still losing weight!  The same is true of any balanced weight management system. Moderation is key! You can incorporate just about any type of food into a healthy lifestyle, albeit with much smaller portions and healthier substitutions.
  2. Convenience. Commercial programs offer prepackaged meals to make it easy to stick to the plan even on busy evenings filled with obligations. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. Just a few minutes each day preparing for the next day can make all the difference in staying on track.
  3. Eat Frequently. We know it may sound contradictory, but it’s true! Eating a balanced meal or snack every few hours keeps your metabolism humming and prevents the kind of ravenous hunger that leads to a cookie binge! Eat about 300 calories containing protein, carbohydrates, and fat every 3 to 4 hours to keep hunger at bay and avoid feeling deprived!



Why wait until the New Year to put your health plans for 2014 into effect?  Let the staff of the staff at Westmoreland Athletic Club & Galaxy Fitness  inspire you through the holiday season to design a plan that will help you feel great through 2014 and beyond — without the added pounds!

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”

Wayne Dyer



My Personal Fitness Journey

I’ve been writing this blog for about two years and as my time at Galaxy is coming to an end, (I’m moving on to a new job) I decided to write a post about my fitness journey since I’ve worked here.

When I started working at Galaxy I was fresh out of college and was still in that college mode. So naturally I ate terribly, didn’t workout a lot and was carrying a lot of extra weight that I put on in those four years.

I thought when I got the job at a gym it would be sooo easy to get into shape and drop those pounds I added. Well I was wrong, very wrong. I actually gained weight the first couple of months because I had no idea what I was doing, I wasn’t doing enough and I still kinda went out and drank like a college kid. I knew that I had to make a change some how though because I wasn’t happy with myself.

I ‘tried out’ all of the personal trainers in the beginning to understand their styles and to help members choose the trainer for them. Here I was telling members and readers of this blog how to be fit and eat healthy and I wasn’t living that lifestyle at all. So I started working out with our trainer Lou in the winter of 2011 and haven’t looked back since.

But this is me before I started my journey, my last semester of college in Sping of 2010. Also this is soo hard for me to post! Eek!

Last semester of college at a fraturnity banquet I attended. Yes that is an adult beverage in my hand, one of the reasons I gained so much weight.

Phew okay now on to what I did to change my life!

Let’s just say that in the beginning it wasn’t easy. I thought I was relativily fit, I played tennis (in high school) and I went to the gym during college (mostly the first two years and then I was too ‘busy’ my last two years to make it regular.) Well I was very wrong, my first workout with Lou I got sick, then got yelled at for not eating properly before my session. I thought that a criossont and an iced coffee was an okay pre-workout meal. I was very very wrong. I got the riot act on what to eat and what not to eat. (I still get repremanded about this because sometimes I still love those bad foods! Here’s a little recap on what you should eat before!) After that first workout I realized that I can’t keep eating what I usually eat and doing what I normally do if I wanted to change.

Slowly as time went on things that were super hard the beginning got a little easier, so the weights went up and the time or speed at which I did things was longer and I started to notice small changes. I wasn’t breathing as heavy when I ran up the steps and I could do pushups with out being on my knees. I realized that maybe I could do this and reach my goals. It did take a while but the number on the scale started to drop as well!

Fall came and I had dropped a good amount of weight and I was feeling great! Then the ‘you should run the half marathon in May’ discussion came up. I always told myself I didn’t want to do it, mostly because I was scared that I couldn’t. I ran the Turkey Trot though and after that I was like ‘I can run forever I’m doing the half!!’ Well that is much easier said then done and even after I committed to the half I still thought I could do more. I talked it over with Lou and we went back and forth on what I should do and I then decided that if I’m training for 5 months then I’m not running the half I’m running the full Pittsburgh Marathon.

Fast forward to May of 2012 where I did finish that marathon and I was so happy that I did it and can’t wait to run it again this coming year. Was the training hard and were there times that I thought I couldn’t do it? Absolulty. I had to run 16 miles one day and I was by myself, but it was a beautiful day and I thought its so perfect out my run will be fantastic! That run was the worst run in my life. I was alone, running on a trail, bored and I didn’t want to do it. I texted the trainer who told me to do it anyway and to keep going, ‘it’s only 16 miles’ he said. I cried, I walked, I texted the trainer again, I told myself that I wasn’t running the full 16 that day. In the end I did push through and I did run the 16 because running that with all of the issues I was having would make me a better runner mentally. Because they do say that running a long distance or even losing weight is mostly mental.

Oh hi there it’s just Jess, finishing her first freaking full marathon!!

Sometimes it’s hard to see how far you have come and a couple months ago Lou had me put on a weighted vest for my workout. It happened to weight 40lbs which I just found out was the amount that I had lost thus far. If you ever want to realize how much you have accomplished carry around what you have lost. It was hard to believe that I had weighed as much as I had and didn’t realize how much of a mess I was. It was a real eye opening experience to do that.

I was dying at this point!

After running the marathon and losng 40lbs I still had more that I wanted to accomplish. Losing more weight, toning more, doing better on my next marathon and I will. Because of the support of my friends, family, my trainer Lou and the people at WAC/Galaxy I know that I’ll be able to meet my goals and most likely move past them.

So if you’re someone who has fitness or health goals and you’re scared you’ll never meet them. Don’t worry, you will. It just takes some time, some determination and the support of those you love to reach them.

There’s me now! 40lbs lighter!

I’ve had a great time writing for you all and sharing with you ways to improve to make your life healthier and more fit! I’m not sure who will be writing after me but I hope you enjoy what they write about as well and continue reading to find out information that will help you!

If you ever have questions for me or want to get in touch don’t hesitate! Friend me on Facebook, or visit my personal website!

Stop Getting Bored: Treadmill Workouts

So it’s Thursday, you know you need to get your workout in, more specifically cardio. What to do, what to do. You look around the club, seeing the elipticals, the bikes, a cycling class beginning, the jacobs ladder and then the dreaded treadmill. You hate running, you get bored running the same speed, same incline to the same music.

I get it, completely. I dispise running on the treadmill. BUT I then found some great treadmill workouts and I decided to give it a try. Why not? If I hate it I’ll get get off and go on a different machine. If I love it (whose kidding, if I can stand it) then I’ll maybe do it again and add something new to my workout routine!

Beginner Treadmill Workout (Click for a print version from Fit Sugar)

This workout is 40 minutes long and doesn’t go above a 5.8 speed on the treadmill. If the speed is to high or too low play around with it to make it more your fitness level!

Time Speed Incline
0:00-5:00 3.0 1.0
5:00-10:00 3.5 1.0
10:00-12:00 5.5 1.0
12:00-16:00 3.5 1.0
16:00-18:00 5.5 1.0
18:00-22:00 3.5 1.0
22:00-24:00 5.8 1.0
24:00-28:00 3.5 1.0
28:00-30:00 5.8 1.0
30:00-35:00 3.5 1.0
35:00-40:00 3.0 1.0

Intermediate Treadmill Workout (click for a printable version from Fit Sugar)

So you’re ready for something a little harder than the beginner workout. Try this 60 minute interval treadmill program with a mixture of brisk walking and slow running!

Time Speed (mph) Calories burned RPE**
00:00-5:00 3.0 17 1-3
5:00-7:00 4.0 8 2-4
7:00-9:00 5.0 16 4-7
9:00-11:00 4.0 8 2-4
11:00-13:00 5.0 16 4-7
13:00-15:00 4.0 8 2-4
15:00-17:00 5.0 16 4-7
17:00-19:00 4.0 8 2-4
19:00-21:00 5.0 16 4-7
21:00-23:00 4.0 8 2-4
23:00-25:00 5.0 16 4-7
25:00-27:00 4.0 8 2-4
27:00-29:00 5.0 16 4-7
29:00-31:00 4.0 8 2-4
31:00-33:00 5.0 16 4-7
33:00-35:00 4.0 8 2-4
35:00-37:00 5.0 16 4-7
37:00-39:00 4.0 8 2-4
39:00-41:00 5.0 16 4-7
41:00-43:00 4.0 8 2-4
43:00-45:00 5.0 16 4-7
45:00-47:00 4.0 8 2-4
47:00-49:00 5.0 16 4-7
49:00-51:00 4.0 8 2-4
51:00-53:00 5.0 16 4-7
53:00-55:00 4.0 8 2-4
55:00-60:00 3.0 17 1-3

Calorie Blasting Treadmill Workout (Click for a printable version from Fit Sugar)

Now if you really want to amp it up try this calorie blasting program! During this workout you can lose up to 500 calories! 500!! Did you know that if you did this treadmill workout 5 times a week you could lose 1lb! (1lb=2500 calories!)

Time Speed (mph) Calories burned RPE*
00:00-05:00 4.0 20 1-3
05:00-8:00 6.0 47 4-7
8:00-9:00 7.0 11 8-10
9:00-12:00 6.0 47 4-7
12:00-13:00 8.0 14 8-10
13:00-16:00 6.0 47 4-7
16:00-17:00 7.0 11 8-10
17:00-20:00 6.0 47 4-7
20:00-21:00 8.0 14 8-10
21:00-24:00 6.0 47 4-7
24:00-25:00 7.0 11 8-10
25:00-28:00 6.0 47 4-7
28:00-29:00 8.0 14 8-10
29:00-32:00 6.0 47 4-7
32:00-33:00 7.0 11 8-10
33:00-36:00 6.0 47 4-7
36:00-41:00 4.0 20 1-3

Take a Hike Treadmill Workout (Click here for a print version from Fit Sugar)

Now you’re bored with the mostly flat runs, I know me too! Try this hiking style workout where you’ll walk briskly and jog up steel inclines! Work those quads and booty!

Time Speed Incline
0:00-5:00 3.0 2.0
5:00-8:00 3.5 4.0
8:00-11:00 4.0 5.0
11:00-16:00 4.5 8.0
16:00-21:00 4.0 10.0
21:00-26:00 4.5 8.0
26:00-31:00 4.5 10.0
31:00-34:00 4.0 8.0
34:00-37:00 3.5 10.0
37:00-40:00 3.5 5.0
40:00-45:00 3.0 2.0

Well I’ve tried all of these treadmill workouts and all of them really give a variety of speeds and inclines to keep me occupied and makes time fly! Now after trying one of these workouts it still might not be your thing but search for new treadmill workouts online to get even more ideas to liven up your treadmill time!!

Also don’t forget to stretch!

3 Great Stretches for Runners

Ps I love running on the treadmill now! (well most of the time)

10 Reasons Why to Attend Our Spinn-a-Thon


10. Crazy Calorie Burn
I wasn’t too fond of spinning when I started because it was hard on my lazy legs. However, as I began to get accustomed to the work out and saw the pounds begin to melt away faster than they had when I worked out on any other cardio equipment I was hooked.
A good thirty minute workout on a Spinning Cycle can burn as much as 500 calories. Even at challenging levels other cardio equipment couldn’t burn that many calories in such a short time. For our Spinn-a-Thon each session will last between 45-1hour. Longer workouts burn from 800 to 1,000 calories.
9. Meet New Friends
Regardless of your fitness level riding Spinning bikes keeps everyone together. This goes beyond sitting in the same spinning class, but each individual works equally as hard at their own level. It is amazing how you can feed off of the energy of other riders when you begin to fatigue and start thinking you might want to quit.

Riding together also gives you the opportunity to encourage others. You can inspire those who have not yet reached your level of fitness, while those stronger than you inspire you. Working together, everyone who spins can reach their goals.
8. Mental Training
Spinning also builds mental strength. When you spin, there are good days and bad. The important thing is that you carry through with your regular Spinning routine. Push through difficult times. Push up hill climbs and push through endurance training.
Self discipline of the mind gained in spinning can be applied to all areas of life. I have found it most beneficial in areas of self-control and confidence. Spinning helps develop a positive, “can do” attitude.
7. Prizes
There will be great prizes given out during each hour!
6. Hour of Zumba!!
We decided that why limit it to just indoor cycling and what’s more fun than dancing! So we added an hour of Zumba with Melinda at 6pm!! It is $5 in advance to sign up or $10 at the door!
5. The atmosphere in class
It’s a group exercise class so you know it will be full of energetic individuals. You’ll find the others around you will push you along and you won’t even realise it! With the combination of pumped up people and a catchy playlist in the background, you will burn off more calories than you even knew you had! If you need that extra bit of motivation, invite a friend along so you can encourage each other and joke along the way.
4. Low Impact Workout
Spinning is a great exercise because it is very low impact. Unlike running on a treadmill or participating in sports like basketball, football or soccer, spinning places no great impact on the joints in your body. By riding on a bicycle, you’ll get all the resistance that is necessary in order to work out your muscles and your cardiovascular system, but you won’t face the potential dangers of participating in one of these other high impact activities.
3. You don’t need any skills and you can be at any level
Unlike some other group exercise classes, where a certain base fitness or experience level is necessary in order to actively participate, in spinning classes people of all fitness levels and athletic abilities are welcome. Because you will be working at your own individual level and not at the same exact pace of the other people in your class, you’ll find that you can push yourself to your own limits without having to conform to other people’s goals.
You will not need to have any predeveloped skills or coordination in order to successfully participate in a spinning class. Similarly, you don’t need to be exceptionally coordinated or balanced in order to get the most out of your exercise program in spinning.
2. What else are you going to do on a Friday night and Saturday morning?
Our Spinn-a-Thon event is this Friday and Saturday September 21 & 22!

Friday Times

  • 5pm with Sue
  • 6pm with Lou
  • 7pm with Jill
  • 8pm with Jill
  • 9pm with Sue

Saturday Times

  • 7am with Sue
  • 8am with Jess
  • 9am with Sue
  • 10am with Pete
  • 11am with Jill
All of our instructors and great and will give you a hard workout!
1. Team Survivor is a great organization to donate to!
The local affiliate, Team Survivor Laurel Highlands, was started by the Mighty Tri Girls in 2008. Laurel Highlands offers fitness opportunities, at no cost, to women with a past or present diagnosis of cancer. They welcome women of all ages and fitness levels.

What Team Survivors Have To Say:

“Team Survivor has given me the ability to come together with other cancer survivors in fellowship & sweat.. I love the feeling of networking together as a team… encouraging each other at different levels . It is a great feeling to have accountablity in a positive way, so that I can reach my goals.. and I believe I can with Team Survivor!!!
Ovie Marshall, Team Survivor Member“Participating in the Team Survivor triathlon program gave me an incredible sense of accomplishment, and I found myself surrounded by the most positive group of people I’ve ever met.”
Sandy Andre, Team Survivor Member“Finding the Mighty Tri-Girls and being able to participate in my first triathlon is something I will cherish forever! Participating in the Team Survivor/Mighty Tri-Girl program gives you a guiding hand, helping you face things inside you that you didn’t realize were there. It gives you strength to smile and just do it! Love ya Sue! Thank you for giving us Cancer babes a home to be strong!”
Olga George, Team Survivor Member

Team Survivor Info from Training with Sue

Take a Breath!

You’ve perfected your alignment, calibrated your intervals and mastered the Reformer, but one seemingly simple skill could be keeping you from taking your routine to the next level: knowing how to breathe. The most basic life force can have a major impact on the effectiveness of your workout.

“Once you become aware of your breath, it becomes an incredible tool to generate energy,” says national group fitness creative manager Lashaun Dale, “and you can use it to mobilize the body’s ability to create and manage your energy: it can speed up your heart rate and metabolism and manipulate the function of your nervous system.” And as much as it can help rev you up, it also has the power to slow you down. “You can use the phases of your breath to manipulate your physiology, impacting your thoughts, emotions, hormone levels and neuromuscular pathways.”

In other words, conscious breath isn’t just for yogis. Here, experts from each fitness discipline show you how to breathe fresh air into your practice:

Strength training
It’s not just about exhaling on the exertion with strength-training anymore (although that method of training still holds true). The relatively new wave of thinking focuses on trunk stabilization and intrathoracic pressure: filling your entire midsection with air when you inhale and keeping some of that air when you exhale with control. By maintaining the pressure in your expanded belly, you provide stability to your entire core while your arms and legs do the heavy lifting. “The most exciting part is that you’re activating your abs and core muscles in ways you haven’t in past, so you might tire sooner than ten minutes at first,” says national director of group fitness and Pilates Carol Espel. In other words, you’re maximizing the execution of any exercise, building your core muscles and burning more calories with every strength-training move you make.

In practice: Start in standing position and put your hand on your belly above your ribcage. Fill up your stomach as though you want it to stick out as far as you can. On the exhale, try to maintain some of that pressure. When you’re done with an exercise, take a deep breath and start over again.

While every school of yoga suggests different breathing techniques (such as the popular ujayi breath), the end goal is the same: to bring a heightened sense of awareness and control over your physiology and psychology. “An improved use of breath impacts the circulatory system, the nervous system and even the lymphatic system, so it certainly can increase strength and focus of force application and muscle recruitment,” Dale says, “which positively impacts endurance and increases your ability to consciously guide asana.” More specifically, breathing directly impacts your posture and spine, critical elements of the yogi’s practice. For instance, when you bend backwards, you generally support your spine best by inhaling, and when you fold forward, it’s most natural and beneficial to breathe out.

In practice: “The yogic three-part breath is a great way to expand your awareness of breathing and create more freedom in your breath,” Dale says. Choose a resting position such as on your back with your knees bent. Breathe naturally, then place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Exhale, then allow a full inhale to create space in your body so that your belly rises up, letting the rib cage expand and the chest to lift; then on a natural exhale, release.

“Everything works from your center in Pilates,” says national Pilates training manager Carrie Macy. “I compare it to Cirque du Soleil. In order for a performer to master any of those amazing feats, their whole core has to fire to stabilize them. Breath is a big part of that.” Similarly, in Pilates, you want to fill up the belly with lots of air to create pressure and, in turn, stability in the core and midsection. That means inhaling longer than what feels normal and retaining some of that breath when you exhale. The benefits? Not only will you inevitably concentrate more on your workout by coordinating your movement with your breath — a key component to Pilates — you’re also challenging your core muscles and feeding more nutrients and oxygen to your entire lungs, which will keep them healthier as you age.

In practice: Think about breathing from the bellybutton up in order to keep the lower abdominals engaged. The Hundred is a good exercise to riff on: Start by breathing in for five counts and then breathing out for five counts. Then vary it, breathing in for six counts and exhaling for four, then inhaling for seven counts and exhaling for three and so on until you hit ten. (Mind you, the actual Hundred involves coordinating your movement with the breath as well.)

“Practicing good breathing techniques and being aware of your breathing patterns will help you work out harder, longer, more efficiently and help you understand when you are actually working too hard,” says national creative program manager of group fitness Lisa Wheeler. For endurance workouts, breathe slowly in and out through your nose. While you can gradually build up the intensity of the workout, you don’t ever want to find yourself panting. When it comes to interval training, however, it’s about pushing yourself to breathless. If you’re talking easily, you’re not working hard enough. No matter how tired you get, always maintain control of your breathing or else your performance will plummet.

In practice: For endurance training, if you can carry on a short conversation while jogging or cycling, you’re in good shape. Pick up the intensity by breathing slowly and deeply — letting the air go up to your nose and down to your belly — all the while keeping your breath controlled. For high-intensity interval training, if you’re open-mouth breathing, or even panting during the exertion phase, you’re in the right zone. That said, during recovery intervals, aim to get back to a slow, controlled pattern of breath. “The faster you get to a recovery state, the more efficient you’ve become,” Wheeler says.

Article from Equinox

6 Ways to Max Your Metabolism

We all know the girl who gorges on junk food and doesn’t put on a pound. Some people are just fast burners. Metabolism (the rate you burn calories) depends on age, sex and even genes. But with exercise and clever food and drink tricks, it is possible to speed up your rate. It’s time to join the fast lane!

Ways to Max Your Metabolism

The Dos

Slash Your Fat Intake- Fatty foods slow down the fat burning part of our cells- cut back and you could burn 16% more calories for up to three hours after each meal. Try the veggie option to cut out animal fat. Chickpeas over chicken and beans over beef. Also fat-free dressings for salads and Dijon mustard instead of mayo.

Drink Smart- Your body needs to be hydrated to keep your metabolism burning. Try drinking ice-cold water, your body will warm it up and burn a calorie for each degree it heats it. Don’t feel to bad about that morning coffee. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it’s thought to increase metabolic rate by 5% for two hours after drinking!

Muscle Up- Resistance training hikes your metabolism rate by 15% because it increases muslce, which burns nine times more calories than fat. Interval training, (ex. three minutes of intense cycling followed by a minute on easy peddling) is a great metabolism booster too!

The Don’ts

Skip Sleep- Got work coming out of your ears? Shift your schedule so you go to bed at 10pm but get up earlier. This will help break the habit of eating metabolism slowing junk food while you work late. Beware of burning the midnight oil. Accourding to new research, just one night of skipped or disrupted sleep slows calorie burn by 5-20% the next day.

Crash Diet- Restrictive diets throw your body into starvation mode, making it hang onto every calorie. Your metabolic rate is highest in the morning, research shows that eating a healthy, good-sized breakfast will boost metabolism 10% for the rest of the day. You could try some scrambled eggs of toast or wholegrain cereal with yogurt and berries!

Ditch Carbs- Carbs produce the glucose your cells need to function properly, so instead of cutting them out, eat good carbs like wholegrain pasta, brown rice and wholegrain bread. Spicy food can also be good as it increases your heart rate, and is thought to boost metabolic rate by up to 50% for three hours afterward.