“How many miles are you cycling today?”
The Spin teacher shouted out the question to the class and then people yelled back “18,” “20,” “21”!
“It’s important to create a goal of how many miles you will cycle so you can work towards your goal during the class. You will work out harder if you have a goal.”
I’m a fitness fanatic who works out on average six days a week. There is so much information out there about fitness and nutrition that sometimes I’m left wondering, who is correct? So I asked two of my favorite instructors for their advice on the topic.
“You really are what you eat. You can work out all you want to but if you do not eat properly it will not matter,” says Rosann Doherty, a Pilates and Spin instructor for the past 10 years at various gyms. She is also a certified personal trainer and nutritionist and owns a private personal training business.
Doherty explains that the number one nutrition fact she offers people is, “What you look like is based 90% on what you eat.”
Aileen Marino, who taught step and kickboxing classes for six years, has a mantra for fitness and life in general which is, “have fun.” She says, “Avoid using scales. People often become discouraged from exercising if their weight remains the same. A better indicator of your body size is how well your clothes fit you.”
Doherty stresses the importance of eating breakfast. She says, “Eating breakfast jump-starts your engine. Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. When you avoid breakfast your body struggles for the rest of the day to make up for the lost meal.”
Both Doherty and Marino agree that drinking water helps to keep you hydrated, especially when exercising, and that when you are hydrated you won’t overeat. Doherty says, “Your body requires 64 oz. of water per day. When you exercise you should drink 8 oz. for every 20 minutes of activity.”
Often people mistake dehydration for hunger, which leads to unnecessary eating. People tend to drink more calories than they realize, which leads to weight gain. Doherty says, “Water contains 0 calories. It is important to note coffee and sugary drinks are diacritics. When you drink these drinks, you should also drink 8 oz. of water to replace the fluid you lost.”
In addition to drinking water, it is important to eat small meals every two to three hours. Doherty says, “Eating this often helps maintain your sugar levels at an even keel. Maintaining your sugar levels will sustain your metabolism and energy levels. You also will prevent overeating since you feel full.”
Eat Healthy Fats
When you eat often, include healthy fats. Doherty says, “Often people avoid eating foods with fat since they think it will lead to weight gain. Eating healthy fats helps you to feel full and burns fat. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, fish and olive/canola/flaxseed oil. When eating nuts, you should aim for two tablespoons per day.”
Interval and Strength Training
In relation to fitness, Doherty stresses the importance of interval and strength training. She explains that interval training is when you raise your heart rate for short periods of time during your cardiovascular workout. Strength training is when you use weights or some type of resistance during your workout.
Doherty says, “Both types of training help to strengthen your heart and lungs, which in turn causes you to burn more calories for several days after your workout.” She explains that when you work out at a steady aerobic pace without intervals, you will burn fat during your workout only, as opposed to several days of a higher caloric burn with interval and strength training. She also says, “When you are strength training you build muscles which then, in turn, burns fat. You also burn more fat than you would during anaerobic exercise.”
Marino begins and ends all her classes with a minimum of five minutes of stretching. She says, “It is important to stretch before and after working out to prevent injuries. Stretching also helps to increase your flexibility.”
Marino feels that you should avoid comparisons to other people. She says, “Often people become frustrated when they compare their fitness level to other people. Everyone’s bodies are distinctive and respond differently to training.”
Marino says, “Whatever exercise routine you chose, it is important to have fun while doing it. You will make a commitment to exercise if you enjoy it.”