Fit Blog


Don-A-Matrix Training

53 Minutes of circuit training

693 Calories Burned

When a former client and I met for lunch recently he informed me that he’d been training with DB (Don Brooks) at Don-A-Matrix in Hollywood. Don-A-Matrix, what is it? He explained it was very similar to my group fitness classes but a much more stream-lined approach to fitness training where you simply used your own body weight and the only assisted equipment was a resistant band. Ok, I was intrigued and had to give it a go.

Merry Christmas to me and away I go. It was the day after Christmas ’12 and while others were at the mall for their after holiday sales, I was on my way to Hollywood to see what the buzz was about DB and his fitness philosophy.  DB is a very warm and inviting trainer, cares about your fitness quest and genuinely cares about his clients, studio and making sure that you not only have a great work out but you have fun in the process.

From what I understand, most classes are full with anywhere from 6-16 athletes but on my day there were 4 of us so it seemed more like a semi-private training session. DB informed me that there will be 4 quarters of the hour at 10 – 15 minutes in length and I will be breaking up body parts for a full body work-out. Cool, I’m in – football talk & I can relate to that.

After a brief warm-up that consisted of jumping jacks while extending the band over head with each leg extension, I moved into a series of single leg kicks. Every rep was to a 20 count for the entire hour for every exercise. Twenty jumping jacks, 20 single leg kicks alternating and so on. Lastly was on the floor for a light stretch.

First series of exercises were looping the band with another athlete and perform a series of deep squats while doing close grip lat rows with palms facing each other. Three sets of 20 squats with rows was a great way to get the heart moving while working the legs and back.

Second set was a series of lunges while doing bicep curls. Still having the bands looped with another athlete while facing each other we were doing alternating leg lunges, standing in place while doing bicep curls. Again it was a great way to get the heart moving and attacking the legs and biceps.

Third set consisted of push ups followed by looped bands with my partner to work back and shoulders performing a capital “Y” with the band in hand. Again 20 pushups followed by upper back/shoulder “Y”s.

Final set was a series of running in place with a resistant band looped under each foot and I was instructed to run in place, high knees and alternating bicep curls. Three sets of 20 and this was by far the only exercise of the hour that didn’t make sense to me. I’m all in favor of exercises to challenge an athlete but this one seemed odd and a sure fire way to strain or hurt you back. I didn’t care for this exercise.

In all, solid work-out to get the heart rate up and burn calories but not much in the way of full body or strong cardio. In my opinion, a better use of cardio could be to add a jump rope series, more abs or core exercises like plank or side plank and lastly a little more muscle isolation like wall squats or individual athlete bicep curls, shoulder press or raises.

Pros:  Awesome calorie burn, spike the heart rate and hour passes quickly.

Cons: Not enough muscle isolation, parking and no shower facilities.



New Year’s Fitness & Nutrition Resolutions aligned with a down town Santa Monica restaurant healthy low cal, inexpensive lunch idea.

Time flies when you’re having fun and seems to drag when you’ve fallen off the fitness grid. It’s that time of year again when we make our new year’s resolutions to begin in January. Whether you’re setting resolutions or goals, sticking to them and accomplishing them may be a little more challenging then you had hoped. In order to be successful in achieving or reaching your goals, I’ve suggested the following to my clients in the past with over 90% success.

Set a goal or resolution that is important to YOU. The biggest obstacle my clients have faced is doing something for someone else. If you aren’t emotionally and personally invested, it’s wasted time and effort (and sometimes money). Doing something for someone else and they don’t notice or acknowledge your efforts will most likely cause you to abort or rebel.

Make your resolutions manageable and obtainable. If your goal is to drop 15 – 20 lbs by Valentines Day, keep in mind that an ambitious weight loss plan will suggest 1-2 lbs per week. No quicker way to derail the ‘diet’ then falling short of your plan. What’s more, if you’ve been smoking for years be reasonable in managing your expectations on going ‘cold turkey’ and waking up cigarette free.

Be kind to yourself. Does missing a training session because of work or your child’s school play give you reason to throw in the towel? No, it means you’ll have to plan your fitness schedule around work and family functions. I’ve always been a huge proponent for morning work-outs as the end of day options are a plentiful.

Journal it! The best way to bear witness to your success is to write it down and check it off as you accomplish or achieve your milestone. Old school hand written or an online web site like is a great resource as most of us have access to a computer throughout the day.

Partner up, no “I” in team. There’s a reason our military special forces teams have the buddy system. It’s for support, encouragement and accountability. So create your own special forces team and get friends and family to help tow the line with you. Winning as a team always fells better then a solo accomplishment. Have you ever did something great and give yourself a high 5? Didn’t think so.

K.I.S.S and make up… Keep it super simple. Try to keep your goals or resolutions to 1 or 2 at most. Showing up isn’t a success, keeping to your word and goal is. Any resolutions greater then 2 is like wrangling kittens, frustrating and usually a lost cause.

TRoe Fit Bit… For a great post low calorie inexpensive meal, check out Monsoon on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. My favorite is the chicken teriyaki gluten free pasta bowl (vegetarian is available with tofu). Be sure to ask for half the serving of pasta and light sauce or have it on the side. The lunch portion is less then 500 total calories. Or for that morning caffeine free jolt, visit Jamba Juice for a 2oz shot of wheatgrass paired with their plain steel cut oatmeal. They’re both filling and less then 240 calories.



How to maximize MY top 4-cardio exercises:

A healthy heart is a healthy mind… While plenty of studies and research has been done in relation to exercise and a healthy (or peaceful) mind, how does the average person achieve that on a limited budget or low interest in exercise?

Below is a list of MY top 4-cardio exercises that are very inexpensive, no need to join a gym or invest in a personal trainer.

Jumping Rope: Outstanding cardio activity, portable and can be done almost anywhere. Depending on how fast your rope repetitions are, you can burn 5-15 calories per minute. In addition to improving your cardio, it’s challenging and engaging. For the most part, your out of pocket expense is $11 for a professional boxing rope and $65 for a great pair of supportive athletic shoes.

Equipment: rope, athletic shoes and open space (home driveway/garage or playground hard court).

Maintain good posture: shoulders back and down away from your ears, looking straight ahead and relax your arms.

Once you have mastered the ease of rope jumping, try timed intervals, single leg, and marching or running in place.


Jogging, Running: With a small investment in running or cross trainer shoes, you can build your cardio, endurance and stamina by simply running out your front door at a distance that is challenging but not overwhelming.

Jogging is a perfect exercise for the beginning runner to build a healthy heart, stay athletically motivated and not spend a lot of money on equipment or gym memberships.

Once you’ve managed the sport of jogging I suggest the following:

Join a running group or buddy up with a likeminded, committed runner for training.

Ease into a local or hometown 5K and once you feel comfortable with your time and distance, move up to a 10k.

If you feel competitive, enter a biathlon or even triathlon to hone your running skills

While sprints run a higher risk of injury than jogging or running, they are more challenging mentally and physically. Most of us haven’t sprinted since high school or when being chased, but sprinting will wake the quick twitch muscles we don’t use that often in running and burn more calories with quick spurts than jogging or running. Light stretching is a must before sprints and an absolute must after a spring workout.

Sprints: Unlike running or jogging where you can do anywhere, sprinting requires more of a commitment by traveling to your local high school or university track & field. While you can run sprints in X-trainers or running shoes, I suggest making a small investment in sprinters spikes. Once you have sought out the local 400m track, begin with the following:

Track spikes ($40-75)

Jog a few laps (400-800M) for a warm-up

Jog the corners and sprint the straight-aways

Begin with 10-100m sprints with a 60second rest between

As you advance, 5-200m sprints with2 min rest between

Advanced 4-400m sprints with 3 minute rest between.

NOTE: All sprints are done from the “blocks”, most schools don’t have these available to the public for liability issues so you’ll start from a forward crouch position and lunge forward as if you were coming “out of the blocks”.

Swimming: is easily the best full body workout you could ever do. This exercise provides a perfect balance between anaerobic and aerobic activity without any impact or risk of injury (don’t drown, that’s worse than an injury). Your equipment investment is a suit, goggles, cap (most public pools provide kick boards and buoys) and lastly a swim past at your local pool or YMCA.

I’m sure you’re not out to break Michael Phelps records, but you are out to beat the clock both in the pool and time management. Swimming provides the following:

A great anaerobic workout by building muscle with water resistance

Sheds fat with the high aerobic interval training.

Improves endurance by controlled breathing

Builds stamina by length or distance of laps

Builds personal confidence as interval times lower

Stretches or loosens all muscles

Most local pools offer a swim club/team that anyone can join and improve time, technique and keep your competitive spirit sharp.


How to Stay Motivated With Your Work-Outs and Not Get Burned Out:

Some of my biggest fears as a certified personal trainer are having my clients tell me the work-outs have become routing, predictable or boring. I’m often approached by members at the gym about fitness options or suggestions about how to mix up their training programs. Regardless of your fitness goals it’s important to cross train whether you’re a weekend warrior or professional athlete working towards a championship.

Switching up your training allows you option of training according to your mood, avoid falling into a rut and prevent monotony from settling in. Therefore the next time you’re training for an elite contest, shed a few pounds or getting out of your fitness comfort zone…

I suggest learning, investing and applying the following to your fitness program:



Anaerobic training (Weight Training, Plyometrics, Flexibility, Circuit Training)

Aerobic training (Swimming, Running, Jumping Rope)

Endurance Stretching

Easier read than done right? I suggest a fitness routing of 2-3 times a week for a novice or beginner on up to 4-6 times a week for a more advanced athlete.

For a beginner a routine should consist of the following suggestions:

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Anaerobic Training (weight training)

Thursday: Off

Friday: Aerobic Training Swimming)

Weekends Off

More advanced athlete:

Monday: Pilates and Weight training

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Circuit Training, Swimming

Thursday: Flexibility

Friday: Weight Training & Cardio

Saturday: rest

Sunday: Aerobic Activity (Jumping Rope) and stretching

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or elite athlete, the demise of all training is falling into a rut and finding yourself unmotivated. By following the above suggestions you will find that you’re continually challenged both mentally and physically.

Good luck and be sure to post your progress and comments to the No Gym Fitness Facebook fan page.



What’s better for weight loss and toning Anaerobic or Aerobic Training?

Other than Miami or New York, Los Angeles is probably the toughest place to live when the pulse of the city is image and entertainment.  A majority of my personal training practice revolves around these very issues, losing weight and toning up.

What’s the best way to lose weight and tone up?

Should I do my cardio (aerobic) before or after my weight training (anaerobic)?

The answer is both.

Anaerobic exercise is short-lasting, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy sources that are stored in the muscles and, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from (breathing) the air.

Examples of anaerobic exercise include: TRX – Training, Weight-Lifting, Wind Sprints (running, biking, etc.), Jumping Rope, Steep Trail Hiking, Interval Training, Isometrics, or any rapid burst of quick exercises.

Aerobic exercise is any physical exercise that requires additional effort by the heart and lungs to meet the striated muscles’ increased demand for oxygen. Aerobic exercise increases the breathing rate and ultimately raises heart and lung efficiency. Unlike anaerobic exercises that are centered on quick bursts or maximum effort, aerobic activity generally requires 10 plus minutes of steady movement beyond the athletes breathing comfort zone.

Examples of aerobic exercise include: Swimming, Jogging, Running, Rowing and Cycling.

Weight loss and toning revolve around 3 components: Diet, Anaerobic and Aerobic activity.

Losing weight is a very simple mathematical equation: Consume less calories then you burn in a day AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT! That’s it; I’ve taken all the guess work out of your diet.

Now that you understand the weight loss process, how do you tone up?

It’s important to know that you won’t get through a full hour work-out w/ your trainer if your cardio, stamina & endurance are lacking. When starting a fitness program that centers on weight loss/toning, assure yourself that you have a strong cardio base but always do your aerobic activity AFTER your anaerobic exercises.

I strongly recommend a weight training routine (body weight, resistant bands or weights) as your anaerobic exercise to promote bone density, muscle, ligament and tendon strengthening. It’s easy to see why a combination of aerobic and anaerobic training will do the most for your fitness level. And, since both aerobic and anaerobic training burn fat (anaerobic training actually yields the most post workout fat burning), the combining the two in your routine will burn fat and maintain muscle. Not only will you burn fat faster, you will keep the fat off and won’t be bored in the process!

Good luck and I look forward to working w/ you soon.



No Gym Fitness Has a New Attitude!

What an amazing year 2011 was and now 2012 is off to an incredible start. While I experienced a great deal of growing pains in 2011, both personally and professionally, I’m proud to share that I put a couple checks on my “Bucket List” in the midst of all of it.

For those of you who haven’t noticed, one of those check marks goes on the launch of my new website! It’s nice to see that as I’ve evolved as a person and as a professional, so has my business. I’m doing things with No Gym Fitness that I’ve never done before and training some really amazing people who are working hard to achieve great results. If you haven’t browsed around the site yet, be sure to do so and let me know what you think.

Second item I knocked off the bucket list was hitting the Malibu half marathon last November. What makes this even more exciting is that I sustained a god-awful injury while I was training for it and ended up developing plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Not letting the injury sideline me for the race (bad move) I pushed through the pain and was able to compete, complete and hit my goal time of under 2 hours. I finished in 1:52.

While I was proud of my time, half way thru the race my left foot was on fire, my right hip was throbbing from caring the extra weight and I completely threw out my back. The entire month of December was spent rehabbing my injuries (plural). The injuries took longer to recover from than I anticipated and while I wasn’t in any condition to run the LA Marathon in March I did see the silver lining. Now I’m working toward becoming certified in Hatha yoga!

Plenty more to share but you’ll have to check back each week as I intend to share more accomplishments, insight and pitfalls associated with health and fitness in my blog posts. I hope you continue to push through your own “growing pains.” I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you through my new site, blog, Twitter and Facebook page.

Remember: when you strive for perfection, you achieve greatness!



YAS (Yoga & Spinning) – Yoga for Athletes


60 Minutes of yoga
205 Calories Burned

A good to great work-out shouldn’t take you longer than 60 minutes. Sure, milestones like running a marathon or competing in an Olympic Triathlon will take you anywhere from 4-6 hours (plus) but for solid core, anaerobic or aerobic exercise 60 minutes is perfectly sufficient.

When I first began my yoga practice in the mid ‘90s after my first neck surgery, every studio I experienced on the Westside/Santa Monica offered 90 minute classes. If you’re anything like me, after 60 minutes of yoga my mind begins to race and the practice becomes counterproductive for me. Enter YAS, Yoga for Athletes.

Yoga for Athletes is challenging 60 minute yoga and stretching class designed for athletes by an athlete. Kimberly Fowler founder and owner of YAS constructed a class for athletes who push hard, train hard and are result driven. As a former two sport athlete, I strongly believe my neck injury was a direct result of not properly stretching after or during sporting events. Consequently after my second neck surgery my physical therapist forbade me from entering the weight room, she threw out my running shoes and banned me from all sporting activities that would risk further damage. For the next few years my physical activity was constricted to swimming and yoga.

Yoga for Athletes has been the perfect solution for my recovery and complemented my swimming. The class focuses on the basics of yoga without pushing you too far outside your comfort zone.

The first half hour of the class is standing and focuses on establishing the ground work for balance and core activity. The instructor leads you through a series of breathing exercises and warrior’s one through three all while being mindful of your breathing and proper form. The second half of the hour is spent on your mat focusing on stretching and breathing. In 60 minutes you have successfully engaged your core the entire time while also challenging your breathing and stretching every muscle an athlete uses to compete at a high level. Without fail, every time I’m feeling tight from excessive exercise, incorporating Yoga for Athletes class and I feel better.

I’m not a yogi and never will be, but I do need to continue to stretch as I’ll always continue to push myself physically and mentally and Yoga for Athletes gives me perfect balance and stretching that my fitness practice needs.

Pros:  Quick class, full body stretching, and no yogi attitude
Cons:  Sometimes a heated room.



Resting heart rate 54bpm

90 minute class (6 weeks)

I want to give you a piece of my mind… And now after my 6 week meditation class at InsightLA I have plenty to spare.

I’ve never been one to back down or walk away from a physical challenge, but asking me to sit still for five minutes and relax my mind…that one makes my knees buckle. I’ve always been a physical person, always on the move and it’s no wonder I have a personal training and nutrition business. At 42 years old I’m in better shape now than in my 20’s and continue to push myself with new endurance races and challenges.  Sitting still, relaxing, clearing my mind has been more difficult than any race, sprint or football game I’ve ever played.

Insert a 6 week meditation class!

For the holiday’s one of my clients gave me the gift of calm. The gift of learning how to sit still, face my fears and conquer my mental challenges and for that I share and encourage you to do the same. InsightLA is a Buddhist meditation workshop dedicated to giving you the tools of mindfulness. Classes are 90 minutes long; meet once a week for 6 weeks and each session the “sits” or meditations get progressively longer. My instructor Allen Weiss is very knowledgeable in the instruction and art of meditation. Not knowing what I was walking into, I went with an open mind and was fully committed to the process. My first impression was Allen was going to be some monk in a robe who chanted and burned incense. Nope, accomplished musician, professor of Marketing at USC Marshall School of Business and family man – oh wait, just like you and me… real.

The first meditation was 5-7 years long. Oops sorry, 5-7 minutes, it just felt like years. Sitting still, clearing your mind was one of the most difficult things I’d ever been asked to do, as my entire life’s “To Do” list comes to mind.  It almost seems impossible to just sit, be calm and be in the moment. During a Q&A with Allen after the first class I realized multitasking isn’t always a great thing. Sure you’re busy but are you productive I asked? He smiled and said, “Now you’re getting it”. The art of meditation is to be mindful of the moment, embrace it and go with it. So I did and now I make a point of meditating a minimum of 15 minutes a day.

With each class, Allen shared with us the teachings and techniques of getting to a place of calm. Some days were easier than others but once you made it, complete peace. By the 5th and final 6th week, the meditations were 30-45 minutes long. During this time I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Phone was off, no texting or Facebook and it was my time. The classes were in the evening and after each class I would come home and just continue the process of just being. I slept better and was better suited to pick my battles during each day.

In short, the meditation exercises have proven to be a great addition to my already physical lifestyle. It gives me balance and calm in an already fast paced city like LA.

Pros:  Complete calm, personal time, finding peace.

Cons: None, we all can use a little personal time and peace.


52 Minutes Seated Water Rowing Machine

533 Calories Burned

Thanks so much for the fitness suggestions and I’m glad to be your “Guinea-pig”.  A few of you have written, texted and IM’d me with the Indo-Row suggestion, please keep the suggestions coming.

My latest venture has taken me to Revolution on Montana to try the famous Indo-Row by Josh Crosby. I’d like to begin by stating for the record if he changed the name to Indo-“Roe” I’m sure Josh would find increased success ;).

That being said, I now realize the success of a group class is direct reflection of the instructor. Taking the class with Josh (founder) was a total joy. In addition to giving No Gym Fitness a shout out before class, he was totally welcoming to all newbie’s. He took time to walk me through the machine, where and how to sit and lastly proper form. While I’ve tried the Concept II Rower (series C-E or Erg) in the past and continue to use it as part of my cross-training exercises, the Indo-Row provides a similar approach. Josh informed me I was going to be on my a** for the next 45 plus minutes and make sure I was comfortable and secure. Generally my experience on the erg has been limited to “rowing” 500-2500 (2- 12 minutes) meters as part of my cardio warm-up or cool down, so I knew I was entering the unknown.

Having done multiple spin classes in the past I was little reluctant to try Indo-Row because sitting in one place for over 45 minutes and exercising I find incredibly boring and too routine (i.e. spinning and TRX). The first 5-10 minutes of class was designed as a warm up and getting the feel for the Indo-Row Machine and your teammates. The class consisted of 12 athletes divided into “4 boats of 3”. One athlete, Bob, was pointed out by Josh.  We were instructed to follow Bob’s pace as he had the most experience in the class and provided us an even pace throughout. Josh then appointed a Capt. to our team/boat and we were to keep pace with them. We were instructed to “push & pull” with our Capt. and we then named our boats by our Capt’s Alma-mater.

I was now rowing for UCLA and Josh acted as our on land coxswain for the class and he determined the pace and speed of our rowing – all set to good alternative rock music. One of my issues with indoor classes is when the instructor shuts the windows and doors and the class begins to steam and fog up. WTF??? I guess that’s why No Gym Fitness is a success because we’re out doors (shameless plug ;)). Keep them open people! Others don’t always smell or sweat that great and the last thing I want to do is be held up for 30 plus minutes next to garlic girl or the dude that thinks it’s funny to pass gas.

Time flew as Josh adjusted the speed, tempo and pace of the class. I never found myself looking at the clock. After a short 3-5 minute break at the 35 minute mark to stretch, Josh set the tone for an actual race between all boats. My adrenaline kicked in as I live for competitions of all sorts and I wanted to really get all I could out of the class. In our boat of 3, we were instructed to a “round-robin” of 100 meter sprints while the other members of the scull were to ease through a mild pace until it was your turn to rock it. All boats competed with each other and it made for a great ending to a cool class. In our final push, Josh had to step on my Indo-Row Machine’s platform to keep me from sliding around.  It was the first time since wearing a heart rate monitor my heart rate hit an all time high of 201.

In short, the class was awesome and I really enjoyed meeting Josh and I wish him and Indo-Row continued success.

Pros: Fast pace, ever changing tempo, great instructor, cool music

Cons: Seated for 45 minutes, closed doors & windows, sore lower back next day.

Barry’s Boot Camp


65 Minute Full Body Circuit Training


750 Calories Burned

After hearing and reading about how great Barry’s Boot Camp is I had to see what all the fuss was about. I checked out their schedule and decided to “enlist” in the Full Body weekend work-out.

A half-hour of cardio on treadmills and a half-hour of strength training, using step benches, free weights, and rubber bands. The class is divided into 2 groups and the circuit training is as follows: 10 min, 5min, 5min and 10 min final push followed by 5 min stretch.

I started my work-out on the treadmill as I always feel a cardio warm up is important to begin any exercise. Because Barry’s studio is 360* of wall to wall mirrors, I was able to watch and study what the instructor was doing with group 2 and what I was in store for. My warm-up I was left to my own discretion and kept the speed at level 7 with a 2% incline.

Group 2 was doing a series of band curls, shoulder press, ab crunches and body squats.

The second round of treadmill was to maintain a steady speed that pushes you out of your comfort zone but doesn’t wind you. I kept the speed at 8 and incline of 2%. Group 2 was now doing a series of leg exercises with the bands which included extensions, squats, bicycles and upper body low back rows.

Third round of treadmill was running “hills” at a low speed. I began at an incline of 5, speed of 6 and every 30 seconds we increased the incline 1 degree.  After 5 minutes of hills and slowly increasing the grade I was challenged.  Group 2 was engaged in chest press and flys with dumbbells. The chest press/flys were kept at a steady pace designed to sculpt the chest and not for muscle building. We then set one barbell weight down and used the other one for overhead tricep extension and ab crunches with feet above my navel.

Fourth round of treadmill was a sprint. I wasn’t sure what the instructor was explaining so I knew a 10 minute “sprint” meant incline of 2% speed of 4 for 20 seconds and level 8 for 40 seconds. That would put me at a 10 minute mile. Group 2 was pushing through a series of ab and core exercises.

Of the two other studios I have visited and blogged about, Barry’s Boot Camp yielded the most calories burned in 60 minutes (I’m sure that was because I elected to push and increase the speed and incline on the treadmill). Yes, I was pushed and challenged, and yes this is a solid work-out.   We used Reebok Steps for our body benches, I would have used them for Plyometrics – Body weight step ups, push ups dips etc.

By the 45th minute, the class lacked any air flow or ventilation and with 25 athletes in the room it was beginning to feel like the walls were closing in. The dim lights and top 40 hits being played added to the anxiety of wanting the class to be over.  I’m sure the “full body” class that I took is designed in a “cookie cutter” fashion, meaning, if you’ve tried one you’ve tried them all.

Pros: Constantly moving, high calorie burn

Cons: Location (Sherman Oaks or W. Hollywood), little ventilation, top 40 hits

Cross Fit LA:


The Workout

500M row

40 standing body weight squats

30 sit-ups

20 push-ups

10 pull ups

5:37 seconds

142 calories burned

Cross Fit seems to have an almost “cult” following anywhere you go… Globally!

Their fitness philosophy sells itself.  We all know at least one person who has tried this workout.  Diehard Cross Fit athletes swear by it and encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try.

What I like about their passion and commitment to the work-out is that they’re not pushy or driven by the hard sell. Cross Fit will sell itself and it isn’t for everyone.

After checking out the website and watching a few of the “example” videos as to what to expect… My first reaction was, WTF!?!? Why don’t they have lawsuits coming out their rear? The videos show exercises that are fast paced, with erratic form, basically an injury just waiting to happen. I knew I was in for a challenge.

Cross Fit classes have a strong loyal following and each class has 6-10 athletes that push each other toward success.  Cross Fit posts the work outs daily and each athlete chooses to participate at the studio in a group environment or individually at the athlete’s choice of location – best results are achieved in the group setting.  No mirrors on the walls for vanity checks or form correction.  Form adjustments are made by the floor instructors.

The gym space at Cross Fit LA in (West LA) is very untraditional in that there aren’t any machines only free weights, barbells and pull-up bars – very old-school, very military. It’s easy to understand why Cross Fit has a loyal following with law enforcement and military personal.

The space was remarkably “tidy” for an area that has multiple classes through out the day. It reminded me of my sports playing days where every athlete had a tremendous amount of pride for their training area.

After meeting with Becca for a 45 minute tour and intro to Cross Fit, I was put through a quick challenging introductory work-out.  (See above for my results). With the exception of the pull-ups, I did well. I know now that I need to get back to the basic principles of No Gym Fitness… Full body exercises. I mentioned my 2 neck surgeries to Baca who was very supportive and understanding and insisted I not perform anything that might jeopardize my safety.

After my work-out challenge, I was free to ask questions about Cross Fit and their routines. After a small Q&A, I determined most of the Cross Fit exercises are not for me.  Most of the exercises run the risk of serious injury: dead lifts, power cleans, overhead barbell squats, and clean and jerk shoulder barbell squats etc … Have no business in the definition of functional training. Barring a professional athlete, there is no reason to perform any of the above exercises.

Combined with a balanced diet and nutrition plan and body weight exercise routines, 90% of your health and fitness needs can be accomplished without these heavy barbell exercises. Does Cross Fit have its place? It does if you subscribe to the No Gym Fitness philosophy “the only bad work-out is the one you miss”…Just be smart, careful and cautious when training at Cross Fit.

Circuit Works Brentwood – March 1, 2010

65 Minute Full Body & Abs w/ Raphael Work-Out

667 calories burned

I arrived at Circuit Works Brentwood 10 minutes to early familiarize myself with the studio space.    I was very skeptical about the small size of the fitness room (maybe 900 sq ft), especially since there would be 16 of us taking the class.

Raphael Verela, founder and owner of Circuit Works was going to be teaching the class.  He had a calm presence as he entered the room and introduced himself to all of the newbies.  As he was multi-tasking (queuing music play-list, adjusting headset for communication the work-outs and leading a stretch), I was intrigued by very little eye contact between the participants. You might call it game face but this was just a 60 min work-out… Not a marathon, endurance race or game where score was being kept. Very interesting energy.

The class I took had 12 different stations for a full body work-out intermixed with ever going treadmills and spin bikes.  The class members and I were given a “1” or “2” and told to report to either an exercise station or spin bike or treadmill

All around the top of the studio were numbered monitors with a streaming video of the exercise you were to perform at that location. Each station was 2 minutes in anaerobic or aerobic activity. Raphael had a stop watch and was diligent about time and moving from station to cardio machine in 2 minute increments.

In summary, the class began with a 5-10 minute warm-up stretch/work-out explanation, followed by 45 minutes of fast pace exercise and ended with 10 minutes of ab floor work and stretching.  I was able to get a full body indoor work-out intermixed with weight machines, resistance bands and cardio. I wouldn’t consider this my “one stop shop” fitness answer but to mix in with my cross training plan it would make the grade for once a week for sure.


I was challenged by the work-out and impressed with Raphael’s use of a very small space. After checking out the schedule, I noticed he has a few other group classes he offers, private training and meal delivery plans.


No shower area, located in a mall, half price validated parking, small space, limited to spin bike or treadmill for cardio.

Boxing Circuit Training

You don’t need to fly like a butterfly or sting like a bee to get one of the best full body work-outs in or out of the gym. Boxing circuit training is one of the best full body exercises and the good (or great news), you never have to take a punch. Whether you train at a boxing studio, gym or your home garage – boxing circuit training will burn the most calories, give you a full body burn and minimize the risk of injury.

The history of boxing goes back thousands of years B.C. where slaves and criminals would fight for sport to win freedom or gain independence. The sport of boxing has supplied us with some of the best quotes and sports figures of all time. Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or Manny Pacquiao are some of the most popular figures but they also had to take a few hits to earn the title of greatest. Today your only hit or sentence should be a commitment to at least an hour of hard core calorie burn of 500+, full body anaerobic work-out and cardio exercise.

More than any other sport in the gym, an hour of hard core boxing will burn between 500-700 calories. Whether you’re actually sparring with another boxer or simply shadow boxing, no other anaerobic activity will burn as many calories as boxing. A simple warm up should consist of 2-3 minutes of jumping rope followed by a series of body exercises to prepare or loosen the body up for exercise. These exercises should consist of abdominal crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, walking lunges and wall squats.

Other than simply shadow boxing or sparring, other great forms of boxing circuit training include hitting the heavy bag, speed bag, double ended bag or mitts with a partner or coach. The exercise you choose will take on a personality of it’s own. The heavy bag generally weighs over 100 Lbs and will always ask if that’s all you’ve got!? No matter how hard you hit the heavy bag it won’t go anywhere and will always come back for more. The speed bag will frustrate the best of the best when it comes to boxers as it will always test your coordination and patience to staying focus. The double ended bag will hone your hand eye coordination while keeping you light on your toes and keep your from getting flat footed. For the more advanced boxer, the mitts offer the best of all the exercises as it incorporates all the above bag exercises and improve breathing, balance, core and stamina. Once you’ve mastered the understanding of boxing mechanics you will find no other sport that let’s you go into “auto-pilot”.

Unlike other forms of anaerobic exercises, boxing requires a strong body foundation and composition. As mentioned above in warm up, boxing uses the entire body and challenges every muscle you have and will use. The use of your legs is ever important as boxers are never far from their jump rope as it works foot to eye coordination but also keeps you light on your feet and works your calves. Your mid section or ab region is your power house. This is where your strength begins to form your punch so a strong core and sense of balance is a must. Like swimming, it’s not important to have a built muscular upper body but a solid toned chest, back and arms are key to punching as you’ll use your entire body to throw a series of jabs or upper cuts.

In addition to the great anaerobic work out you’re cardio or aerobic fitness will be challenged too. Like any other sport, breathing is a must and if you don’t have strong lungs you’re boxing training will derail. Breathing is a must with each movement and controlled breathing with each punch is the key to improving your endurance, stamina and cardio when boxing. It’s important to control each breath with each punch. For every punch you should have an exhale which in turn will force you to inhale on each punch retracting. All to often beginners tend to hold their breath causing instant fatigue and drain of energy. Most boxing training requires a great set of lunges from running, swimming or boxing but an even better exercise is yoga or meditation which will require you to focus on and understand your breathing.

Like any other sport, boxing is no different in way of injury. The list is long but injury can be prevented provided you respect the sport and have the right equipment. Wrist wraps are a must as they prevent raw worn knuckles but they also protect the wrist from jamming or rolling. A mouth piece is a must as it prevents grinding of your teeth, chipping or cracking from excessive punching as you bite down to throw each punch. Lastly, head gear and gloves are a must for protecting the head when sparring and the right gloves provide comfort and protection when fighting the bags or opponents

Two Week Diet and Exercise Plan

A two-week diet and exercise plan is designed to jump start and give you quick results and hopefully start you on a fitness plan that you can follow for weeks or months, depending on your personal fitness and diet goals. In a perfect world, you might want to attempt this plan while on a stay-cation where you can utilize all the resources of your surroundings (such as your gym or yoga studio). Realistically, you will be undertaking this plan while still attending to your responsibilities connected to your work, family, friends and social life.

If this is your first attempt at working out or it’s been awhile, use the first 7 days as conditioning and easing back into a fitness and diet routine. Begin by walking, jogging, biking or swimming and incorporate yoga or mat Pilates into your cross training to prepare the body for aerobic and anaerobic activity. For your diet it’s not so important about what you eat but what you don’t. During this week you need to eliminate the following: refined sugar, dairy, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. Approach this week as a “light” detox or cleanse of easy go to foods that have been a bad habit.

Week 1

Your first week of training should mirror these suggestions: It’s important to set a schedule into motion and not deviate from it. Wright the details down in a fitness journal and ask a friend or family member to join as there’s always strength in numbers (not to mention holding each other accountable). Shoot for a 6 day training week and one day off for rest and repair. Monday go for a 15-20 minute power walk, Wednesday plan a light 30 minute jog and Friday can be your swim or bike day. Shoot for 30-45 minutes. In addition to your fitness journal, invest in a good heart rate monitor and set it to your body specs for an accurate calorie burn and for assisting you in a fat burning zone.

Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturday should be your stretch, yoga and pilates day. Stretching for 45-60 minutes as part of your 2 week fitness and diet routing will help prevent injury and keep your body and muscles loose for a more challenging week 2. In addition, it’s a great way to ease the tension from your weeks of exercising but it also helps clear your head and get you in right frame of mind for the challenges of day to day obstacles.

Your meals for the next 2 weeks need to focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and high fiber foods. Grazing throughout the day every 2-3 hours keeps your metabolism firing and keeps the hunger pains at bay.

Week 2

Your second week should be a more aggressive attempt or attack at your 2 week fitness and diet routine. Incorporate 2-3 days of weight training or body plyometrics at 45-60 minutes per session. Then right after your anaerobic training shoot for 30 minutes of cardio exercise like jogging, running stairs or jumping rope. For example at the gym you can weight train for 45 minutes and hope on the treadmill for a 30 minute run at a speed of 7mph and an incline of 2%. Or split train your weight training with 2 minutes of jumping rope between sets of pushups, pull ups, sit ups, body weight dips and wall squats. Your sets should be 3 x 15 per exercise with ropes in between.

Week 2 of diet or nutrition should focus on 2-3 pieces of fruit in the morning for breakfast spread out over the morning and prior to lunch. Lunch should consist of salads with raw vegetables and lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar for dressing or taste, Stay away from heavy dressings full of sugar and seasonings. Your afternoon snack should be raw nuts or naturally dried fruits for energy and keeps the hunger urges low. If at all possible stay away from coffee, energy drinks and Starbucks runs as they’re all full of sugar and you’ll get that quick push followed by just as quick a low. Dinners need to consist of 5-7oz fillets of proteins and grilled, steamed or sautéed vegetables


As mentioned in the beginning, a 2 week fitness and diet routine should be a jump start to a new you and healthy habits. It shouldn’t be a cure all and it’s important to keep the momentum rolling. Stick to a routine that fits your active lifestyle and one that one becomes a routine. Switch it up by trying new exercises and continue preparing foods at home as they always taste better, you’ll save money and you’ll look at nutrition as a lifestyle and not a yo-yo diet.