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Why is Being Fit the Best Gift You Can Give Your Family?

by Regina Carroll CPT

Being healthy is the best gift you can give yourself and your family.  We often think of gifts as material objects. There is nothing more important than your health; there is no gift as important. Physical activity is important for everyone at every age, and it  promotes good health. When we are healthy we have the ability to take care of our family, to interact with little ones, and to enjoy everyday activities. Simply put, we enjoy a better quality of life when we are healthy and fit.  Working out will help us increase our stamina so that we can keep up with the kids, go hiking, skiing, and so much more. Exercise gives us energy,  helps us to maintain our health by preventing high blood pressure, keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check, and  boosting our mood. Staying fit can increase our life expectancy, reduce our risk of injury, and save us money on medical expenses.  Weight  training keeps our bones and muscles strong. Strong bones can help prevent breaks in the event of a fall, and strong muscles make it easier for us to keep up with household chores and picking up kids.  Remember without yourself you have nothing. Make your health and fitness a priority and set a good example for your family. Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving…the gift of fitness!


by Regina Carroll CPT

I am so excited about our Inbody machine! You may have noticed the robotic-looking item next to the scale by the Stairmaster. This gem is not just a scale. The InBody uses Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis technology (BIA)  by reading low-level currents it sends throughout the body. After 15 seconds, we are given a measurement not only of weight but also body fat,  water, lean mass, skeletal mass,  as well as right and left side arm and leg strength, as well as trunk strength. This is a wonderful tool for determining if there are any muscular imbalances that should be addressed, plus we can track the improvements over time.  Muscle imbalance, such as having a weaker side,  makes us more prone to injury. Perhaps it’s time to focus on single-sided training. 

Another feature I love is that it measures our water. Did you know at least half of your weight should be water?  How do we know if we are drinking enough water? By doing an Inbody assessment! Water is important for bodily functions such as our blood, brains, all internal organs, cells, and skin, regulating body temperature, carrying nutrients, and more. 

You’re already here working out; make sure your workouts are addressing your needs! While weight, height, and BMI measurements can give you an idea of your overall health, these measurements don’t take into account body fat as opposed to muscle mass, or water levels. Have you ever stepped on the scale only to be disappointed that your weight has not changed? With the Inbody, we can determine what has been lost and what muscle has been gained. We can determine if you have increased your water, thus making your body more efficient and healthier. It is possible your hard work paid off! 

Doctors, physical therapists, personal trainers, dieticians, and more can all use the information provided by your Inbody assessment to help determine your needs; in fact, it is even offered and recommended in some doctor’s offices! It can be used to monitor muscle mass development during and after rehabilitation,  injury, heart disease,  or surgery. 

Everyone has a unique body and composition. Why not be certain your workouts are tailored for YOU? The Inbody assessment is  98 percent accurate.

To Decrease Body Fat Do I Need More Cardio or More Strength Training?

by Regina Carroll CPT

To decrease fat mass and improve your body composition, strength training is the way to go. Weight training breaks down muscle fibers. When the fibers repair themselves we get stronger, and muscle tissue grows. Muscle is an active tissue, therefore we burn more calories even at rest when we have more muscle. Muscles give us the toned look that many of us desire. You have seen it many times: 2 people may weigh the same, however, one person LOOKS thinner, LOOKS more defined. The leaner person has less fat mass and more muscle mass. In addition, strength training is important for bone density. When I talk about strength training I am talking about heavier weights and fewer repetitions. 300 squats are going to kill your joints, not build muscle. 5-pound dumbbells are not going to get you lean.  To decrease body fat, grab something heavier. Perhaps the machines may be more helpful here to keep your form in check while challenging you. So you can only push through 6 or 8 reps? That’s okay. What you do in classes is a nice addition to the rest of your workout, but to really change your body composition, you are going to need more. 

       A quick cardio burst (such as our 25-minute small group cycle sessions) will burn calories and get your heart rate up. This is IN ADDITION to strength training,  don’t forget about stretching!) will give you a well-rounded workout. Overdoing the cardio can burn muscle as well as fat. We have all seen what I refer to as “skinny-fats:” people that only do cardio, neglect their strength training, or don’t use heavy enough weights. When we take these people to the Inbody or take their body fat,  we see that though they may be in a healthy weight range, the body fat range is high. 

Book your session with a trainer today to have a strength training program designed specifically for you. Call Shapes (941)341-9276

How to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle?

by Regina Carroll CPT

The principle: To lose weight, you must have a calorie deficit; there are various ways to accomplish that. To gain muscle, you must incorporate progressive overload. Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, sets, and/or the number of repetitions of the strength training exercise. This takes time.  This challenges your body and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger.  That said, progressive overload should not be done until AFTER you have mastered the exercise. It can sometimes take up to a month to master the exercise. Always use proper form. This is where a personal trainer can guide you, help you reach your goals, and prevent you from getting injured. When we are strength training, we are breaking down the muscle fibers. Lifting heavier weights, rather than a weight we can comfortably lift, is how to accomplish this. The muscle fibers repair themselves over the next day, which is how we get stronger. That said, we are trying to break down the muscle fibers, not the ligaments, tendons, or joints. Again, a trainer is valuable here.   Doing the same thing repeatedly is boring and leads to a plateau.

Varying your workouts with different exercises prevents you from plateauing, is better for your muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments, and can keep things interesting.  Nothing changes if nothing changes, you must challenge it to change it.  If you were to do the same workout, you would not get stronger, you would not increase muscle and decrease fat.

Endurance vs. strength: Are you doing 100 bodyweight squats? Are you doing as many repetitions as you can in a minute? That’s endurance. Strength is your weighted exercise that is done mindfully, thinking about the muscles you use rather than how many you can do. Endurance exercise is not wrong; however, if you want to increase strength and muscle and decrease fat, you need strength training, you need to use weights, and you need to increase what you are doing gradually. Since the muscle fibers need a day or 2 to recover, you must let the muscles rest. This does not mean you cannot strength train every day, this means you must again have variety in your workouts and not do the same routine every day.

How can exercise help with cognitive decline?

by Regina Carroll CPT

Cognitive health, or the ability to think clearly, sometimes declines as we age. This may be the result of lifestyle choices, lack of nutrition, excess stress hormones, exposure to toxins, physical inactivity, and more. We can counteract some of this through exercise. Physical activity helps blood flow to the brain which reduces the risk of deterioration.

Exercise reduces stress and improves memory and boosts thinking skills. In addition, the body and the brain can be trained together by adding meditation, games, learning new muscle skills, practicing balance, learning a new skill, (weight training perhaps, or machines you are not familiar with,) and reading. Stepping out of our comfort zone, putting together thinking and moving, will keep both the brain and the body stimulated and healthy.

If you are looking to increase brain health as well as improve physical fitness try a class you haven’t tried before or book a session with one of our certified personal trainers.

What Are the Benefits of Walking Backwards?

by Regina Carroll CPT

Did you know that walking backward is easier on the knees, improves balance, increases spatial awareness, and is good for people with arthritis? It challenges our body in a different way, both mentally and physically, than forward walking does. We are forced to focus, which increases our spatial awareness and improves coordination. Walking backward activates hamstrings, glutes, and core.  Studies have shown that walking backward 100 steps is equivalent to 1000 steps forward. Are you counting your steps? Perhaps it’s time for a recount! More calories are burned when we walk backward. If you have a knee or back injury you will notice backward walking causes us to use a different foot strike and puts us in an alignment that is less stressful on our joints.  I am not suggesting walking backward on the treadmill. Consider risk versus benefit. I recommend making sure you have a clear path then proceeding with caution, taking controlled, deliberate steps. Start with a few steps, then gradually build up. This is something you can do every day. And don’t forget your planks and strength training!

The correct way to lift something from the floor (including your weights!!!)

Start with the feet at least a hip-width apart. Do not stand too far from the object. Use your legs! Bend at your ankles, knees, and hips, not your back. Keep your chest up and shoulders down. If the object is heavy, keep it close to your body.

Be mindful!

Shapes Fit Tip

Why sit when you can stand? When we sit, we use less energy than when we stand. This means we burn more calories just by standing! Depending on your sex, age, height, and weight, you will burn between 100 to 200 calories an hour while standing and only 60 to 130 calories an hour while sitting. Try standing when you would normally sit. Stand while at your computer, watching television, or when spending time with a friend. Start in small increments and build up gradually. What an easy way to be more healthy. 

How do I avoid Gaining Weight During the Holidays?

by Regina Carroll CPT

Celebrating the holidays often includes indulgent meals and parties loaded with unhealthy delectables. In addition, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year is notorious for people slacking on their exercise routines due to travel, company visiting, or busy work schedules. The combination of overeating, unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise often leads to weight gain….but not this year! Follow these tips:

  1. Make time for yourself. Do some type of activity every day. Even 15 mins a day is better than nothing. Remember that our trainers are available for Zoom sessions if you are traveling or don’t have time to come into the gym. 
  2. Moderation, not deprivation. You can have your cake and eat it too…enjoy just a few bites of heavy, fatty, sugary dishes. 
  3. Drink water! Start your day with a big cup (or 2!) of water. Drink water throughout the day and before meals. Not only will this give your stomach a feeling of fullness, but it will also help regulate your system.
  4. Don’t skip meals, and eat breakfast. This will help us to maintain control over our appetite, as well as keep our systems regulated. In addition, eating regularly scheduled meals helps keep the metabolism up, meaning that we will burn more calories.
  5. When asked to bring a dish to a holiday party, make it a healthy one such as a vegetable platter. 
  6. Limit alcohol. Calories from drinking add up quickly. Dilute your wine with sparkling water, ice cubes, etc. to enjoy the drink while reducing the alcohol, calories, and sugar. 
  7. Keep a food journal or consider using an app such as MyFitnessPal or MyPlate to track calories and nutrition.
  8. Get enough sleep. Our bodies function better with proper sleep as well as proper nutrition.
How Does Strength Training Improve Our Body Composition?

by Regina Carroll CPT

Body composition is the ratio of fat to lean body mass, including muscle, bones, ligaments, tendons, organs, other tissues, and water.  Strength training improves our body composition by increasing muscle mass, decreasing fat mass, and raising our metabolism.  Not only are we expending calories while we strength train, but we are also increasing caloric burn, or metabolism, for the next 24 – 48 hours after we train while our bodies are working to repair the muscle tissue that was broken down. Body re-composition is when we get toned and start to show muscle definition. We can get the physique we desire by burning fat and gaining muscle simultaneously. This re-composition is about fat loss and muscle gain rather than weight loss. When we improve our body composition, we may maintain our current weight. However, we will see a difference in how we look and our clothes fit. Strength training is essential to changing body composition.  Muscle requires more calories than fat to be maintained. Therefore the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn, even at rest. If you’re looking for a body transformation, a  personal trainer can set you up with a well-balanced strength training program designed to suit your needs.