Spring into Fitness

By Sara Hauff Doran

Springtime is known as a time of new beginnings and a great time to get back into shape or to reinvigorate your workout routine. Let the warmer weather motivate you to work on your goals — whether it is to lose weight, gain flexibility, train to run a 5K, build muscle or gain endurance.

In a perfect world, we all would have time to achieve these goals. But realistically, obligations such as work, family and everyday life take priority. Perhaps you have not exercised in years and do not remember what form to use while strength training. Possibly you stopped seeing results from your workouts. Maybe you are bored with your current exercise routine and would like to try the latest workout trends.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to achieve your fitness goals this spring. You can explore a new routine or stick with exercises that are tried and true, but either way you will stay active and engaged with these choices to help you stay energized and in shape.


Kettlebells are bowling ball-sized cast iron weights with a single looped handle on top. They range in weight from two pounds to more than 100 pounds and can be used in countless movements for a cardiovascular and strengthening workout.

It is important to start with a light weight and make sure you have the correct form. The unique shape of kettlebells forces the body to move in different ways than it would with a traditional handheld weight. “Kettlebells are great for the core, too,” Kim Fallon, Certified Personal Trainer and AFAA Certified, of Heart in Motion says.

Kettlebells can be incorporated into an aerobic class at the gym, or can be purchased in a store or online for use at home with an instructional DVD.


“Getting back to basics seems to be making a comeback. This is basically using your own body weight and minimal equipment. You don’t need expensive equipment to get a good workout,” says Meredith Flacks, a Certified Fitness Trainer of Fit & Fab. “Walking is great and you can easily incorporate some lunges, stop to do some push ups, etc.,” she says.

You can get a full body workout with no equipment needed. Another effective workout is interval training–that is, short, intense bursts alternating with short recovery periods such as alternating sprinting and walking. Joseph Arangio, MS, CSCS, of Workout Engine in Allentown recommends resistance training.

“Resistance training strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure, boosts mood, increases energy, burns fat and builds muscle. Resistance training is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth,” he says.


For mothers of  small children, a stroller fitness program called Super Mommy Boot camp may be the motivation they need to get back into shape without having to hire a babysitter and offers a great way to network.

“Super Mommy Bootcamp is a fitness program that combines innovative movement, cardio conditioning, sports drills, and core exercises all with the use of a stroller and your baby right there with you,” according to instructor Heather Gidusko who is ACE, AFFA and CPR Certified.

Gidusko currently teaches Super Mommy Bootcamp classes at the Bethlehem Township Community Center and outside at the Promenade Shops starting again in the spring. The workout can be done inside or outside incorporating walking or jogging. More advanced exercisers can even use weights or kettlebells during this class.

An example of a move that utilizes a stroller is a squat where you reach out and tickle the toes of your baby. Gidusko tailors the classes to the mothers but caters to the babies as well. If a baby is crying, the moms may sing a song while exercising.


You may have seen the advertising — toning shoes “technology is designed to give you a better butt and legs with every step.” Is that true or is it too good to be true? Most of the personal trainers I talked to are not that impressed.

“There are no shortcuts to fitness. I believe these shoes make ankle injury more likely due to the lack of ankle support, the elevated sole and the curve of the sole,” Flacks says. “These shoes may increase the range of motion in the foot and ankle, which can recruit more muscle fibers than walking in flat-bottomed shoes, however, after a short period of time the benefits will wane.”

Arangio agrees that these shoes are not a “magic bullet.” He says the real trend to watch is barefoot training. “The rationale is that most modern shoes are responsible for a host of musculoskeletal problems from Achilles shortening to back pain. Also, the side effect of wearing shoes all day long is that most folks spend little to no time developing strength, mobility and proprioception (the ability to feel your body in space) in their feet,” he says.

“In essence, wearing most shoes can make your feet weaker. To strengthen your feet, you should gradually increase the amount of shoeless strength and mobility training you do each day.”

Fallon says she thinks these sneakers are just a trend “however if it gets some folks up and moving then I’m all for it.”


The most important, and hardest, thing to do when adopting a new exercise routine is teaching yourself to stay on a regular workout schedule. That is where hiring a personal trainer can be useful.

According to Fallon, the goal is to get everyone working out at his or her own level.

Some people are not motivated enough to join a gym or even follow an exercise DVD at home. For those people, hiring a personal trainer may be the motivation they need, she says. For anyone starting out, Fallon recommends working with a trainer at least three times a week. Eventually, she recommends exercising four-five times a week for the best results.

“Proactive health investments, like personal training and good food, pay huge dividends in the quality of your life. That means feeling energized and happy every day, plus a laundry list of other health benefits (less fat, more muscle),” says Arangio. According to Arangio, if you have not worked out in a while, his best advice is to hire a professional, experienced fitness coach. “I suggest you get a personalized workout that includes step-by-step exercise instructions, detailed how-to pictures and savvy coaching tips,” he says. “A professional, experienced personal trainer will help you manage your training, nutrition and recovery (sleep and stress management).”

Fallon points out that if you cannot afford a personal trainer, you should work out with a buddy. Not only will it keep you motivated, but clients who work out with a partner save money because often personal trainers offer a “buddy system” where two friends can share the cost of training sessions.

Flacks agrees that someone to meet at the gym or train with and be accountable to is key to sticking with an exercise routine. “Another is making a list of your goals and the reasons you want to be more fit. Keep them somewhere you will see them as a daily reminder,” she says.

Everyone should devote time to exercising for a healthier body, and with a new season, a new outlook and fresh motivation, there is nothing stopping you from achieving your fitness goals.

Editorial Intern Carli S. Timpson also contributed to this article.

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