IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY TIME YOU DO AN ONLINE SEARCH ABOUT FITNESS, THERE’S SOME NEW FAD, BRAND OR “EXPERT” WITH “ONE WEIRD TRICK” THAT THEY GUARANTEE WILL TRANSFORM YOUR BODY IN A MATTER OF WEEKS.
Of course, the consumer is asked to part with their hard-earned cash to learn these arcane fitness secrets. These fad-peddlers are counting on the fact that people are desperate, because it all seems so complicated. Low-fat diet or low-carb? Lean meat or plant-based protein? To supplement or not to supplement—that is the question! You’ve heard it all before if you have tried repeatedly to get in shape. After so many attempts, whose advice do you trust? Should you just give up because nothing really works anyway?
“If getting in shape could be accomplished in a month, we would all be uber-fit and would have maintained that level of fitness since childhood,” says Jen Colombo, fitness director at Ascension Genesys Health Club. So don’t feel bad– many people start out with good intentions—perhaps for a New Year’s resolution, or to fit into special-occasion attire for an event. But things come up. Work deadlines, family crises, holidays or even just feeling like eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s because you’ve been “good” for so long. Many people will get discouraged after a minor slip-up, or let things slide until they realize their hard-won fitness level has dropped.
Though there is no “magic bullet” to immediately transform your body, being in poor health and poor shape as you get older are NOT inevitable. Allow me to reveal the trifecta of an effective nutrition and exercise program: Common sense, balance and hard work over time.
But how do you find a solid, sensible program these days? Turn to a real expert, someone with the proper training and credentials. Someone who has a history of proven results—that means clients who have seen tremendous positive changes in their fitness level and health. We found four local experts to share their fitness wisdom with our readers.
Fitness Manager at Ascension Genesys Health Club
FUNCTIONAL TRAINING: RETAINING FITNESS FOR DAILY ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE
Jen Colombo has been the fitness manager at Ascension Genesys Health Club since it opened in October 2001 and her practice has changed along with her clientele. “When I helped open the club, my clients were younger and looking for competition training, fitness shows, extreme weight loss as shown on shows like The Biggest Loser and drastic body composition modifications,” she says. “Nineteen years later, I see a lot of clients who want functional training. They want to play with their grandkids on the floor, stay productive at their households, alleviate soreness, reduce injuries, and stay flexible.” Jen states that the best compliment she gets is when a client tells her they have no pain anymore.
Jen shares that most of her clients benefit from high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This form of cardio alternates cardiovascular exercise with short periods of intense anaerobic (rather than aerobic) exercise while incorporating resistance training.
“Shorter breaks mean that our cardiovascular endurance is challenged throughout the entire session instead of longer breaks in between sets,” she says. “I incorporate functional exercises to simulate common daily movements.” She accomplishes this with the club’s cutting-edge equipment, which includes the new Queenax a flexible modular functional training system, open areas for plyometrics and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a quarter-mile indoor running/walking track, and more.
Jen is experienced in whole-health nutritional analysis, functional training, post-rehabilitation and inclusive training for clients with health risks and/or physical limitations. As the fitness manager, she creates programming that promotes safe and effective training for all individuals while providing motivational support for a healthy lifestyle. She holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree with a specialization in health promotion and nutrition from Michigan State University. Throughout her college years, she completed a four-year internship as an athletic trainer working with a variety of collegiate sports. She is a certified personal trainer and health and fitness instructor through a number of respected accrediting associations: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), PTA Global, and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). She has also completed courses in TRX Suspension Training and Queenax Small Group Training. She is a certified health coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Jen recommends that a person interested in getting fit should do some type of movement daily. “Start with a walk and commit to it 30 minutes most days of the week,” she advises. “Our bodies are meant to work and we need to get back to the basics of just moving daily. You can always incorporate other modes of exercise once you’ve started, but start with the basics. My job is to help you find the safest, most efficient path and guide you when you stray. Getting started is the number one barrier. People say, ‘there is always tomorrow,’ but I say why waste today? Find a group, find a class, find a gym and join that community. And remember, your fitness journey should be ever-changing, starting with the change of committing to your path.”
Personal Trainer at Ascension Genesys Health Club
SMALL CHANGES, BIG RESULTS
“I’ve helped people lose 50 to 80 pounds and keep most of it off, and I’m proudest of the people who never worked out before or did so inconsistently,” says Dan Guoin, a personal trainer at Ascension Genesys Health Club. “Through my helping them, they were able to make exercise part of their weekly routine. I believe creating small habits is the key to being successful, even something as small as walking a mile three times a week. Once that becomes routine, add a few weight exercises.”
For first-time fitness-seekers, there are a lot of misconceptions that a personal trainer’s knowledge can correct, and worries that can be laid to rest. A common error is the assumption that a woman can get masculine-looking by lifting heavier. “The truth is that a woman will actually get leaner, not bigger, by increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat,” Dan says.
Even doctors can give their patients mistaken fitness advice. “I had a client in her mid-50s whose doctor said she shouldn’t run anymore,” Dan says. “She was determined not to quit running, so we increased her leg training to work on the supporting muscles around the knee plus dropping 25 pounds of body weight to decrease the stress on the knees. Now in her 60s, she’s running marathons.”
Dan says his individual client-centered training style is driven by the high quality of the facility at Ascension Genesys Health Club. “We have a huge health club with tons of state-of-the-art equipment,” he says. “It makes training fun and gives us trainers a lot of options to help our clients.”
As Dan says, balance is a key part of what is needed to sustain a long-term fitness program—not just balance in terms of diet and exercise, but literally attending to the body’s balance systems. “Along with strength training I have started to add more balance and flexibility to my clients’ workouts,” Dan says. “I feel these two things become very important as we age because a lot of hospital visits are caused by falls later in life.”
While it may not sound too serious when you’re young and can trip over something, pick yourself up and be on your way, senior citizens face a very real threat from falls. Attending to the body’s balancing abilities not only makes you more youthful, it could save your life.
On that note, with lifelong health in mind, Dan cautions that health and fitness should not be limited to the gym. “I am also big on making exercise and nutrition a lifestyle,” he says. “Moderation is key. I really feel that it’s important to avoid processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables.” Perhaps not as thrilling as the promise of whatever clickbaity miracle product is the current flavor of the month, but it is common sense…and it works.
Unfortunately, such a no-nonsense approach to diet is difficult, what with our on-the-go lifestyles. If you don’t have time to make and pack a healthy lunch, the siren song of fast food and pop on every corner is just too tempting. Fortunately, registered dietitians such as those who work in-house at Ascension Genesys Health Club can help members with meal planning for optimum nutrition. As a team player, Dan wants to give them a shout-out for the work they do that dovetails so perfectly with his own.
Dan concludes with praise for his immediate colleagues. “We have an amazing group of 16 personal trainers,” he says. “If you’re not currently working out, now is the time to come see us and to set those realistic goals that will last a lifetime!”
Four-time winner of first place in bikini championships
“I CAN’T COME UP WITH ANY EXCUSES NOT TO WORK OUT.”
Lindsay Clark, a Grand Blanc mom of three, changed her life when she hired fitness coach Lee-Ann Thompson of the Arizona-based company Team TNT. The initials stand for “Tyler’s Nutrition Training.” Tyler Mayer, the company’s founder, has several bodybuilding credentials and certifications, and Lee Ann does as well. The most important qualification they have, though, is the fact that their team gets results. Lindsay is a prime example of those results.
“I won the bikini overall at the National Physique Committee (NPC) Nicole Wilkins Show in July 2018,” she says. “I became an Organization of Competition Bodies (OCB) Slayer Pro at the CB Slayer Competition in August that year. I will be making my pro debut and competing in Washington DC at the 2019 Yorton Cup on October 26.” The Yorton Cup is considered the organization’s top title and the competition is their most important event of the year.
Massive amounts of cardio aren’t necessary to burn fat and stay lean, according to Lindsay. “I only do 10 to 20 minutes, three or four days a week,” she says. “I don’t monitor my heart rate but just go as hard as I can and my lifting routine also gives me some cardio benefits.”
While exercise is important for heart health and to sculpt the musculature of the body, diet is equally if not more crucial. Lindsay says nutrition is the cornerstone of her fitness.
“I do a macro-based diet,” she says. “I track my food macros— protein, carbs and fat–daily and adjust them for the correct proportion of nutrients for the workout I do on that day.” Each Monday, Lindsay sends Lee-Ann a photo of herself in a bikini and Lee-Ann responds with Lindsay’s macro goals for the week, based on how lean she appears.
She adds that there is a misconception about carbs that doesn’t help fitness-seekers. “You can’t gain muscle without carbohydrates, so my diet is relatively high in them. This week I’m at 41 percent carbs, 33 percent protein and 26 percent fat.”
Lindsay engages in a practice called “reverse dieting” to gain muscle for competitions. “It’s adding extra carbs to gain muscle,” she says. “Then pulling the carbs down to get show-ready.”
If you’re interested in getting into shape, but balk at the idea of gaining and then losing, it’s understandable. Conventional wisdom calls that “yo-yo dieting” and says it ruins the metabolism. But with this kind of controlled eating and exercise program, it’s not the same, and the gaining is minor.
Most people aren’t looking to compete or to define every muscle. But Lindsay’s results show that anything up to and including getting competition-level “shredded” is possible with the right training. While it does take consistency, it doesn’t take as much time as one might think.
Lindsay says she hits the gym from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every day. “I do it even on vacation. My routine is three leg days and three upper body days. The seventh day is an “off day,” but I work out then anyway and do extras of whatever I need more of. I can’t come up with any excuses not to work out.”
Fitness Instructor and Figure Competitor
BABY STEPS LEAD TO ONE BIG LEAP
Tina Eisenbeis teaches health and wellness courses at the University of Michigan-Flint and trains at Snap Fitness as well as in her home. She is an American Heart Association BLS Instructor and has worked with people of all different fitness levels and goals. Tina emphasizes nutrition, saying, “It is a lifestyle and the key to success, whether the goal is to lose fat or to add muscle.”
As a competitive bodybuilder, Tina has high muscle mass, but having a professional level of “shredding” is not what most people are looking for. She works with her clients to achieve the results they want. “I’ve had clients tell me they don’t want to have as much muscle as I do but just be toned and lean,” she says. “Using lighter weights and higher reps will tone the body without much mass and I make sure my clients know that, so they won’t worry about gaining more mass than they want.”
Tina sticks to “old-fashioned” weight training methods that have been proven to work. “I encourage clients to target all muscle groups once a week and do cardio three to five days a week,” she says. “I incorporate plyometrics, functional fitness and circuit training. Flexibility is important for overall health. I encourage daily stretching or yoga or Pilates classes.”
If the prospect of going to the gym regularly seems daunting, remember that, as Tina says, “You don’t have to spend every day in the gym for multiple hours to start seeing results.” She suggests incorporating outdoor family activities like bike rides, hiking, skiing and walks.
In her job, Tina sees college students of all ages and time seems to be the biggest constraint for them, as for so many of us. “For those who are obese it seems even more difficult,” she says. “They don’t know where to begin on the long road ahead of them. I tell my students that baby steps become one big leap. Healthy weight loss is two to three pounds a week, which becomes eight to 12 pounds a month. I tell them to focus on the baby steps until they reach their goal.” Her approach has seen great success.
“One client came with her daughter who wanted desperately to help her mother lose weight,” Tina recalls. “She had always been overweight, weighing 298 pounds when she came to me. She ended up enjoying our three weekly circuit training sessions. Gradually the weight came off. We cleaned up her nutrition and she stopped drinking. Within a year she lost almost 100 pounds.”
Another client of Tina’s had the opposite issue. “She was thin with no muscle mass,” Tina says. “Within a month her changes were very well seen. She has continued to improve and inspired those around her to make changes.”
The younger generation has become more sedentary, leading to an epidemic of childhood obesity which is of great concern to parents. “When I was younger the entire neighborhood would be outside playing all day,” Tina says. “If you drive through a neighborhood now you’ll barely see anyone outside. We need to encourage kids to be more active and eat healthier. We have more junk food options and less time than 30 years ago. It’s easier to go out and grab fast food. Fitness and health do not come without hard work and dietary changes. But the results are worth it!