2014 Fitness Goals

Happy New Year!

new years resolutions

I can’t believe 2013 has come to an end and 2014 is underway. Hopefully the coming year has a lot of fun things in store for all of us! I’m sure many of you have spent some time reflecting on 2013 and deciding what you want the coming year to bringg. Has anyone set any New Year’s Resolutions goals for themselves?

During my last Thursday morning class of 2013, I started out by asking each class member (it was a small crowd that day!) to write one fitness goal they wanted to make for 2014. The only rule I gave them was that they could not write “to lose weight” because it had to be something fitness oriented.

Here’s what some of my peeps came up with:

–Strengthen upper body

–Run a 10k instead of a 5k

–Perfect a pushup

–Use 12 pound weights

–Be stronger

–Strengthen calf muscles

–Increase running pace and get faster

–Come to the gym 3-4 times a week during the winter

–Get more toned in my core and arms

–Run a 10k

–Not be so dependent on group exercise classes and feel more comfortable working out independently

Aren’t my class members awesome? I had so much fun reading these.

However, here’s my F&F tip for New Year’s Day. When making goals for this year (whatever they may be), let’s try to think about more than just the outcome. Of course we should always think with the end in mind, but we should also consider the baby steps it will take to get there. It’s that “in between” from point A and point B that’s going to make or break our success.

For example, if your goal is to increase upper body strength, how do you plan to do that? Are you going to add another upper body strength workout to your repertoire? What will it be, when will you do it, and will you do it on your own or with a trainer? Will you choose heavier weights at your next workout and gradually increase from there? If your goal is to run a 10k, what’s your plan? When will you start training? How will you train? Where will you train?

Oaktoberfest 5k

Thinking about the “how” can often be more powerful than the “what.” Doing so simply gets you thinking of all the details of what has to happen in the middle, between where you are now and where you want to be. Even just stating one step you’ll take next week (start researching races, buy a new pair of twelve pound weights, look for different upper body workouts online) can get you well on your way.

–Here are some of my fitness goals for 2014–

Lift heavier more often
I want to increase the amount of weight that I can squat, deadlift, and bench press. I played around with a lot of heavier weight workouts last week, and I am going to start by including at least one heavier weight workout on the weekends with Tim into my workout plan. We’ll see how that goes to keep it manageable at first, and then I’ll try to increase the frequency from there. I’ll need to do some experimenting with how to revolve this around teaching my classes!


Introduce chin ups and pull ups into my life
These are two exercises that have always intimidated me, but this is the year I’m going to try. I’m going to start adding the beginner and assisted versions of a chin up to my weekly repertoire, then build my way up. My friend Ashley has inspired me for this one, so I also plan to use her as a resource. She recommended this article to me, so this will be a good starting place. This post from Steph is also really helpful. Finally, I am going to focus more on exercises that will help strengthen all the other muscles needed for these moves. Hello inverted rows!

Run more than just one 5k race
Since my workouts in the second half of 2013 included more treadmill and running routines, I want to run a couple of more 5k races than just the Oak Scare 5k in October. To start, I’m going to research what else is out there and ask around to see if any of my friends have any specific races in mind. I probably won’t plan this until the spring when the weather is nicer.

Get another fitness certification
At Boston Mania, I won a free MMA Trainer Certification, so I am planning to get certified in February. I’m also researching some spinning certs as well. We’ll see!

Boston Mania - MMA

Try classes, studios, and fitness opportunities around Boston more often, and go back more than once!
I want to try spin classes at both The Handle Bar and Flywheel since I’ve never been. I also need to try The November Project. I want to frequent Barry’s Bootcamp regularly, get back to both FitHouse and The Studio Empower, and just see what else is out there. A lot will depend on my schedule and cost, but I just want to break out a little more. If anyone has any Boston fitness opportunities or recommendations, send them my way. I’m also always up for a little gym buddy action too!

Do you have any fitness goals for the coming year? What are the “in between” steps that will help you get there?

Let’s make 2014 the best one yet.

Guest Post: Getting Started with Strength Training

Hi to all the Fitness and Feta fanatics out there!  I am a loyal F and F reader from its inception and one of Athena’s good gym friends, Ashley.


As a disclaimer, I have no formal training in anything fitness related (I am a Speech-Language Pathologist according to my degrees), but I have made fitness a regular part of my life since around 2005.  However, I didn’t get started in my absolute FAVORITE part of fitness, strength training, until about 2008.  That year I was a senior in college at UMass Amherst and looking to take some “fun” classes for credit.  I found a strength training class in the Five-College Consortium at Hampshire College (right up the street) and signed right up! (side note: I also took SCUBA for credit that year – man do I miss being in college!).  In that class I learned about many different strength machines as well as how to properly use free weights, and I have been using them ever since!  More recently (since around April), I decided I really wanted to challenge myself and go for much heavier weights with bigger, full body movements (deadlifts, squats, pull ups, etc).  This is the journey I will be discussing today…

I have never had any personal training before, but I decided that if I was going to lift heavier, I wanted to make sure my form was correct and I wasn’t going to injure myself.  I decided that getting some proper coaching would be worth the money, at least initially, until I got my form down.  I decided to find a Strength and Conditioning Coach rather than a Personal Trainer.  This link gives a pretty good breakdown of one versus the other.  While they are very similar, I decided a Strength and Conditioning Coach would be better for me since I wanted to focus more on strength training, movement patterns, and injury prevention.  I was referred by a friend to Coach Tad Sayce at Sayco Performance, and I have been seeing him once a week since April.  Tad has helped me improve my movement patterns, increase my flexibility, and increase my overall strength.  He has written me programs to follow while at the facility with him as well as programs to follow when I am training without him during the rest of the week.  Whenever I have pain in certain areas or something doesn’t feel right, he helps me figure out what’s causing the problem, fix it, and re-writes my program if necessary.  These are a few of the exercises I’ve been working on consistently with him:


I have done a few variations of deadlifts – trap bar deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, and sumo deadlifts (pictured below).  Deadlifts work a bunch of muscles, but mostly the hamstrings and glutes.  I loooooove deadlifts! They are dangerous because if not done properly, you could hurt your lower back (and probably other areas as well).

Ashley Deadlift

Chin Ups

Usually chin-ups are done with an underhand grip, while pull-ups are done with an overhand grip.  In the picture below, I am doing them with a neutral grip, which is kind of in-between, but chin-ups are generally the easier of the two exercises, so that’s what I am starting with.  Chin-ups are a great upper body workout because they work your biceps, shoulders, back, and core.  Chin-ups have been the bane of my existence for a while because it is an exercise that I simply can’t do unassisted YET.  Strength ability, like anything else, varies widely from person to person and my good friend Addie said to me a few weeks ago “You encouraged me to try doing chin ups, but I can only do a few.”  Well, I have been working my butt off on them since April and I can’t do any yet!  Pictured below, I am using a resistance band, so I will continue working my way to less resistance until I don’t need anything!  You bet your tushy I will brag for a while on Facebook when that happens, complete with picture and video.

Ashley Chin Up


With Tad, I have been working on goblet squats and front squats (pictured below).  Squats are a great full body exercise, but they mainly work the quads.  I had never done front squats before, and I have learned a lot about technique and squat movement from Tad.  In the picture, you’ll see that I have a wider stance and my toes are pointing outwards a bit.  Because of my hip movement patterns, this allows me to get more depth (squat lower).  I also learned that I was leaning a bit too far forward in my squats, so you’ll see in the picture that my back is pretty straight.

Ashley Squat

Push Ups

I had always done push-ups on the ground, but I realized I was “cheating” and not going as far down as I should, so I have been doing incline push ups with Tad to improve my form.  Push-ups are another great upper body exercise because they work your core, chest, back, shoulders, and triceps.  If you elevate your hand placement (as seen in my picture) on a barbell, bench, step, etc, it makes the push-up easier.  Placing your hands on the ground would make it a regular push-up, and elevating your feet would make it harder. Additionally, you can change your hand placement to work different muscles (wider, narrower, etc).

Ashley Pushup

I enjoy strength training because I would rather focus on adding more weight to my barbells than the number on the scale.  Also, there is no better feeling than being the bad-ass chick with all the men in the weight room.

Amber Rogers at GoKaleo.com just did a great 3-part series on Taming the Weight Room if you want more information on how to get started with strength training.  I highly recommend hiring a Personal Trainer or Strength and Conditioning Coach to show you the ropes and proper form, but I understand that’s not financially reasonable for a lot of people.  I would recommend doing some more reading on the exercises you want to start and start with very light weight (or just bodyweight!) until you really get the form down!

Good luck and don’t give up!

Thank you, Ashley, for your guest post!  You know I always love hearing about your new strength training adventures.

Let’s chat – Do you strength train with heavier weight?  Have you ever used a personal trainer or a strength and conditioning coach before?