Happy December all you Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym enthusiasts and heath nuts! Holy moly does time fly! 2012 is coming to a close. How it closes is up to you. Will it close on a note of health and wellness? That’s the hope!

The months of November and December are tricky months to navigate. Stress soars. Craziness increases. Diets plummet. Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym sessions fade into distant memories. It’s easy to lose your cool and fall victim to the holiday stress and its accompanying not-so-healthy temptations. Don’t fall into the trap. Stick to structure. Start 2013 off right!

So, the Thanksgiving Day feast recently hit. It probably hit harder for some. Post Turkey Day, the detox, damage control stage starts to kick in. Healthy, clean eating resumes for awhile. The gym is hit hard to sweat out all that turkey and its tryptophan inducing lethargy. Then, December hits – the month of candy canes, gingerbread men, fruitcake, excess, and indulgences. Uh oh.

Yes, December definitely has potential to put a dent in your diet. It’s so tempting to indulge in those traditional holiday treats. I mean everyone else is doing it. So, why not? Well, you know why. Like I said, we want to end 2012 feeling healthy and empowered. Not sluggish and stuffed.

Yet, rather than distance yourself from all temptation, why not create new satisfying and health-conscious indulgences? Do those even exist? Why, yes. They do.

Here are some protein-packed treats you can put back post-workout created by

Sweet Potato & Oat Protein Cupcakes with Creamy Cinnamon Protein Icing

**Protein-Packed Cupcakes by FitMenCook via Instagram :: Whip these babies up for holiday party. Treat your friends to clean eating.**

Um…yes please. These protein packed delights are only 210 calories a piece. Not too bad, eh? They are made using Team Betancourt Big Blend French Vanilla Protein and they are good.

Icing Ingredients

8 oz. Fat Free cream cheese
2 scoops Big Blend protein
2 cups fat free cool whip
2 heaping tbsp cinnamon
1.5 tbsp coconut oil

Batter Ingredients

1 scoop Team Betancourt Big Blend French Vanilla Protein
1/3 cup oat flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 packets raw Stevia
170 g sweet potato
1/3 cup Almond
1 egg & 1 egg white

Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. (Macros for 1 cupcake of the 6: 18 g protein, 17g carbs, 7.5g fat).

Brown Rice Flour & Almond Flour Banana Spiced Protein Pancakes

**Protein-Packed Cupcakes by FitMenCook via Instagram**

Here’s how to make muscle building pancakes! These pancakes, rich in complex carbs and healthy fats, are a wonderful post-workout indulgence! Bring on the batter and the lean bulking.

Batter Ingredients

1 scoop Team Betancourt Big Blend French Vanilla Protein
1 egg, & 1 egg white
1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
1/4 cup Almond flour
1/3 cup Almond Milk (unsweetened)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 ripe banana
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 packet Stevia (optional)

(1) First, mix all DRY ingredients in a bowl, including protein powder, brown rice flour, almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda/powder, and Stevia. (2) Mash 1 ripe banana in a bowl. (3) Add in all wet ingredients to the batter and mix, including eggs, banana, and Almond Milk using a hand blender. (4) To ensure each pancake is the same size, use a measuring cup to dip batter out. Use a 1/4 measuring cup. (5) Set a small skillet on medium-low heat, lightly sprayed with organic olive oil and slowly add batter. (6) Let it cook. When the sides of the pancake look hard/firm, use a wide spatula to scoop the pancake up and flip it over. Each pancake usually takes about 3 minutes to cook. Be careful not to over or under cook!

Next, add your fruit topping of choice. Suggestion: Use Sugar Free Maple Syrup and fresh, seasonal fruits. (Approx. Pancake batter macros: 42g protein, 56g carbs, 22g fat).

There you have it! Two easy and scrumptious sweets to satisfy those cravings and support your workouts and fitness goals at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym. Enjoy!

I am about to propose a serious challenge for you to master next time you are working out at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville athletic club. Actually, challenge is an understatement in this fitness scenario. This “challenge” may be better described as a murderous, muscle-frying fight. One of my fitness gurus, Krissy M. Cags, is, again, setting the bar pretty high here; maybe, even, a bit too high. You gotta aim high, though, right? Right.

There is always room for advancement in your fitness regimen at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym. There is NEVER room for boredom or stagnation. If you think your workout at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym needs a significant boost, here it is in the form of an energizing 1K exercise experiment.

This set of exercises is pretty simple, actually. The exercises are very straightforward. No funny business here. Yet, don’t get too excited or smug. I said simple. I never said easy.

Allow me to lay it out for you.

First, get in a short, cardio warm-up of 10 to 20 minutes tops. Then, here goes…

  1. Sit-up to Bridge Exercise – 1000
  2. Atomic Sit-ups – 1000

Yeah, that’s right. 1K of each exercise. Do it in whatever order you wish. Just do it!

If you are anything like me, you may prefer to ease your way into things. 1000 of each exercise may be a bit much right off the bat. I’d start out with 250. Then, jack it up to 500. Then, 750. Finally, 1000. See that? Baby steps.

Spice up your Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym time with this crazy challenge once per week. By all means, up the ante to twice (or more) per week if you’re a super hero.

The bad news? This will kill. The good news? You are well on your way to stronger, more defined abs and glutes.

Fight for 1K victory at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville athletic club. Go all the way to 1K!

Obviously, we highly recommend our fitness classes to people who are looking to get some top-notch instruction and kick their metabolism — and their motivation — into high gear. But we also know it’s not always realistic for you to count on being able to come to classes right on schedule, because you’re a busy person! Sometimes it’s 10 p.m. and you’ve just finished some leftover Chinese food and suddenly you’re looking for a way to burn off that extra energy — and those extra calories. So we definitely support the idea of having some go-to at-home fitness videos on hand as a back-up facet of your overall fitness regimen for those times when driving over to our Greenville gym just isn’t in the cards.

Here are a few we like, new and old:

  1. “Insanity Workout” — This is one of the most popular DVDs on the market today. You receive 10 discs and follow a 60-day program that maximizes a blend of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. The best part is that you don’t need any equipment besides your own body — but be prepared for a real challenge, because this workout is intense! The routine claims to burn 1,000 calories in just one hour with take-no-prisoners trainer Shaun T.
  1. “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” — Surely you remember this one! A ‘90s classic, Richard Simmons will get you up and moving with some low-impact, easy-to-perform exercises that will get your heart rate up with those old tunes you love. Fun, funny and not intimidating, you can work up a sweat in just 55 minutes. There’s also a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” 2 and 3. Sure, it’s embarrassing and kitschy, but if you can learn to laugh at yourself then keep in mind that laughing burns calories, too!
  1. “The Biggest Loser, The Workout” — If you’re a fan of watching “The Biggest Loser” on your TV, you’ll love this fitness video that combines the moves you see those contestants perform with the motivational catchphrases that your favorite trainers say. You can buy videos tailored to your interests, such as Cardio Max, Boot Camp or even Weight Loss Yoga. The videos are about 100 minutes, but you can choose from six routines to find what works best for you — all overseen by TV trainer Bob Harper.

Our best suggestion is to buy DVDs with return policies so that you can try a routine and figure out what tempo and type is going to actually keep you interested and fulfill your physical demands. Don’t be scared off if the first one you pick isn’t perfect for you.

Do you have any other favorite workout videos we should know about? Please feel free to share!

A few weeks ago, we talked about lifting weights as a means for toning up at our Greenville gym. More recently, the “Journal of Applied Physiology” weighed in with its own interesting findings about the usefulness of light weights. It concluded that working out with lighter weights was less intimidating, less risky and just as effective in terms of muscle growth as working out with heavy weights over time.

The study had young men perform resistance training with varying weights over a period of ten weeks to see if the results differed. The results showed that a person might only be able to go through a few reps with a very heavy weight, and they can perform much longer with a set of lighter weights. Because working out with weights is effective when a person uses them to the point of fatigue, it might make sense for some adults to hit that point later with lighter strain along the way than pushing themselves straight to the max. Plus, some people might be intimidated by bigger weight ranges and refrain from working out with weights altogether.

Commonly using heavy weights can also cause muscle and joint strain in the long-term, and that risk is diminished with lighter weights. And those pushing themselves to achieve more with a heavier weight may stray from proper form more commonly than those using a simpler routine. Overall, the impact of light weights in a regular fitness regimen can be dramatically better for a person’s physique in the long run than higher weights.

This research just goes to show that it’s not just about showing off and achieving great strides. Don’t overexert yourself or set unrealistic goals. It’s all about honesty, moderation and confidence. Don’t be afraid to come into the gym with moderate goals. Don’t compare yourself to the bodybuilder with the huge biceps standing next to you. If you psych yourself out – or worse, quit because you think you can’t do some huge workout task – then it won’t benefit anyone. And remember, you come in here to feel good about yourself!

The key is to commit to a regular routine, set realistic limits and stay motivated. If you can only do a small amount of work at a time, come in more days of the week. If you can only handle light weights, you can do more sets. There’s no single way to work out – ask our highly trained staff and personal trainers how you can define and meet limits that work for you in order to get fit and attain your ideal body.

Cardio equipment – like a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike – comes with a lot of bells and whistles these days. You can choose your terrain and how long your course will last. You can base your settings on how much weight you’re trying to lose and how challenging you’d like your particular workout to be. You can even add warm-up and cool-down times.

People often base their workouts on this data that’s provided through the screens and consoles attached to their machine. They try to push themselves to go the extra mile or burn off a certain amount of calories. But there’s one piece of useful information that often gets overlooked, and that’s the heart rate monitor.

Most of the workout equipment at our Greenville gym shows you numbers portraying your approximate heart rate. It’s important that you understand what these numbers mean, and track your progress as you exercise. You might be feeling fine in terms of energy, endurance and muscle strength. But that isn’t a completely accurate summary of how well your body is coping with the strains of your fitness regimen. You could be getting close to your body’s breaking point and not even feel like anything’s wrong until you’re suddenly dangerously short of breath or extremely dizzy and tired. But this can be avoided if you track your heartbeat.

A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest, according to the Mayo Clinic. An athletic adult, or someone who’s in better shape with a healthier heart, will have a lower resting heart rate – and this can even be as low as 40 beats per minute. But when you’re working out, you want to see that your heart rate is 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. You can quickly estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. But remember, your workout heart speed should not exceed about 2/3 of this number!

However, a doctor or fitness trainer can help you figure out a more exact number that takes into account your overall health, including factors such as gender, strength, diet and other lifestyle factors. Feel free to ask any expert at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville athletic club for more advice on tracking and targeting your ideal heart rate.

Last month, the New York Times published an article examining the benefits of cross-training. Many clinicians and coaches tout cross-training for the simple fact that it offers more of a comprehensive workout. The theory is that your targeted areas will also benefit when you boost your overall fitness regimen.

For example, if you’re training to become a bicyclist, you can strengthen your whole body and improve your overall well-being by also training your arms, torso and general upper body. This can help you train your heart, your breathing rate, your endurance and the way your body operates with its parts working in coordination. It can also provide alternatives for athletes who want to diversify their skills, such as for a career move or simply training for a triathlon.

The New York Times reports that The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine calls cross-training a “total body tune-up” and highly encourages the practice. Similarly, the American College of Sports Medicine advises choosing various forms of training for a comprehensive exercise experience.

Another argument for the benefits of cross-training is that it can actually help athletes and regular gym-goers prevent injury in the long-term. You can change up your routine and give certain areas of your body a break without fully taking time away from the gym. This is especially important to newcomers who are just framing their foundation for working out and training their bodies to respond to exercise before formulating a fitness plan that’s entirely oriented toward their goal sport.

But the question remains whether this is simply for the benefit of losing weight and being healthy, or if it would actually serve to benefit an athlete who’s training to excel in one area. More on that will be discussed next week; in the meantime, if you have questions about incorporating new target areas to your typical training, be sure to ask one of the highly knowledgeable personal trainers at our Pivotal Fitness Greenville sportsclub.

Do you find it difficult to get out of bed and visit your local Greenville gym? Does it often seem easier to just pick up fast-food on the way home than make smarter eating decisions? One of the hardest obstacles when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy is finding the motivation. But there is a tried and true system to stay motivated, and that’s the buddy system.

When people feel like they’re trying to meet their fitness objectives alone, it can seem daunting. When you skip a trip to the gym or do 5 reps instead of 15, no one’s going to hold you accountable except for you—and this can make it easier to cheat or slack. But when there’s someone else nearby who you trust to keep you on track, suddenly your successes become even more rewarding and you find a new drive to succeed. Creating a workout buddy system for accountability is one of the easiest, most powerful ways to stay focused on your exercise and diet aspirations.

Your buddy doesn’t necessarily have to be your best friend. You could ask someone from you office to join you, or even your spouse. If you visit our Greenville gym often, you may notice others who frequently come in at the same time as you. You can approach someone and ask if they’d like to be your gym buddy, someone who might make plans to meet you at the treadmill at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays or regularly grab a smoothie with you after your spin class. And this person will notice when you’re not there. Just knowing that someone other than you is paying attention to your successes or failures can be a powerful motivator. Of course, a personal trainer is someone who will always keep you on track and be a helpful participant in your fitness regimen.

You can also invest in a generalized support system, where you constantly keep your family and friends updated about your workout goals. You can keep them abreast of the gym classes you’ve joined, or discuss how you feel about your latest workout or weight loss. By sharing your experiences, it welcomes others into your world. They can offer feedback or just listen. Either way, it gives you a personal team of cheerleaders to encourage your positive, healthy actions–ultimately helping you stay motivated and meet all of your fitness aspirations.