Julia Derek’s seven best fitness tips!

This is a suspended side plank--- a great, full-body abdominal exercise.  By Slyngebehandling via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a suspended side plank— a great, full-body abdominal exercise.
By Slyngebehandling via Wikimedia Commons.

I have been involved in fitness as a group ex instructor or personal trainer since 1995. During that time I’ve learned lots of stuff. Below you’ll find a few of my best tips. Hope you find them helpful!

1. Functional fitness and using free weights are popular buzz words in the fitness wold. It’s a good idea to strive to be functionally fit—meaning become strong in a way that best enhances your life—and the best way to reach this goal is often by using free weights. Does that mean weight machines are bad? No. You can still use them.  However, when using machines, don’t ever lean back onto the back support or braise your legs against the leg pad. (If you use a lat pull down machine, you’ll know what I’m talking about. ) By sitting up tall without any support for your back, you must use your core to stabilize yourself, making you more functionally strong. This tip is especially good for people who don’t wish to become “bulky” (90 % of women…).

2. Invest in an Ipod shuffle and load it up with your favorite uplifting, fast beat songs. Sounds like a stupid piece of advice, right? The thing is, because the shuffle is so small, it makes a whole world of a difference when you’re weight training, doing plyometrics or dynamic flexibility exercises, running in the park. It’s just so incredibly light and easy to work with. About two thirds of the time, I’m not in the mood to work out. What saves me is my tiny shuffle that’s filled with awesome songs. If it wouldn’t be for this little thing that I can easily clip to my workout top, I would probably just skip it and go read a book instead.

3. Use trigger point performance on your muscles before working out to unlock your muscles. Similar to foam rolling—a kind of self-massage to loosen up knots and tight muscles—trigger point performance gets deeper into your muscles and therefore is more effective. By hitting different targeted spots, you restore your muscles to their original elasticity and functionality. I just took a certification to learn how to use this technique and I finally managed to fix my screwed-up hamstring among other things. Because it would take forever to explain what’s so great about this technique, I recommend that you read more about it here.

4.  Consider your age when choosing fitness activities. The older you are, the more weight training you need. That is, unless your goal is to be flabby, weak and eat like a bird for the rest of your life because otherwise you’ll gain weight.  If you’re over 30, you should weight-train your entire body twice a week. Over forty, three times a week. Got it? Great:)

5. Make sure you get enough sleep and drink enough water. It may seem simple and straight forward, yet I see people neglecting these two areas all the time. Start your day with half a liter of water instead of coffee. Or do both. The key is, you need to drink water THROUGHOUT THE DAY to be properly hydrated. Enough sleep means at least seven hours per night, more if you can. Every night, not three nights per week or in the weekends.

6. Stop wasting your time doing thousands of crunches! I don’t know how many times per week I still have to tell people that, if they want a flat, hard stomach, they need to lower their body fat percentage by eating less and working out more overall. I personally never do any crunches unless I’m teaching a  traditional body sculpting class in which I know the participants will kill me if I skip the abs section at the end.  Not to say crunches should be banned. If you are really deconditioned, you can benefit from doing a few regular crunches. But as you get stronger, focus on doing full-body ab exercises such as the wood chop, planks and jack knives instead.

7. Mix up your exercises and activities to avoid overuse injuries and burn more calories.  Your body get used to doing the same thing over and over, and so will start to conserve calories. Avoid this by doing something  different. You love to run? By breaking up your daily runs with some spinning classes and boot camps and maybe even swimming, you’ll become faster because not only are you likely to never develop any injuries, but cross-training significantly enhances your fitness level. Check out this article for more on this.

3 responses to “Julia Derek’s seven best fitness tips!

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