The Secret to Staying in Shape



A strong body makes the mind strong. —Thomas Jefferson

When I was in high school, I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. Then in college I became part of the “Freshman Fifteen Club” – that’s not a club you want to join. At a time in my life when I should have been at peak physical condition, I was overweight. If I add it all up, I’ve gained and lost over 100 pounds in my life. 

As a smart college girl, I knew many tricks to lose weight. Two of the all-time worst weight loss gimmicks were: wrapping my body in plastic wrap, donning a sweat suit, and sitting in the sauna, or simply starving myself. Neither, as you probably know, worked. Only when I started to teach group fitness classes regularly did I start to shed pounds. Another important change was that I stopped thinking about what I was going to have for lunch while eating breakfast. I kept busy.  Finding something you love to do prevents you from eating out of boredom, too. Have you ever been so involved in a project that you forgot to eat?  Compare that with inhaling a bag of chips while watching television. 

Exercise is the key to life-long health. It lowers your blood pressure; helps you sleep better; prevents inflammation, which can cause diseases like cancer, and is wonderful at reducing stress! There are days you may want to run a marathon or swim a mile, and some days you may just want to go for a walk or stretch.  Quite often, people ask me which class I like to teach or what my favorite workout is.  After having taught thousands of classes to thousands of people for decades, I can honestly say my favorite workout is Zumba®! 

Having been trained in dozens of different fitness programs, from step to Spinning to kick-boxing, I can appreciate the value of each curriculum and enjoy most of them.  Since I love to dance and don’t have hours every day to get my heart pumping and do weight-training, I know I can get a full body workout in sixty minutes and have a blast through Zumba® in the Circuit.  Am I biased? You better believe it!  When you spend hundreds of hours of training, testing and trying different fitness modalities, I know that an interval training fitness program is what works best for me.   We dance for one song, then do exercises targeted to a specific area, such as squats and lunges for legs, for one song, and repeat the process until we’ve worked every major muscle group – all under an hour!  The result is an exciting variety of movements reaching cardiovascular intensity and prime muscular conditioning.  But here’s why it works for me:  I love it!  

You’ll be more interested in exercising if you like what you’re doing.  Some people prefer weight training, running, swimming, biking or yoga.   I like to do all those and vary my workouts often.  It’s best to utilize the muscles in a different way in order to achieve a well-rounded fitness program and a balanced body.   

Today’s lesson is quite basic: do something, anything, every day!  Make sure to include these three areas when considering an exercise program:

  • strength training (using weights, tubes or your own body)
  • cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, swimming, dancing)
  • stretching  (yoga)

(Consult a physician before starting any exercise program)

Here are some simple ways you can incorporate more exercise into your life:

  • Park your car farther away from your destination.
  • Take the stairs.
  • For every four minutes of chores, do ten jumping jacks.

Make a commitment to better your health by moving or stretching at least 4 times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes.  In your calendar, write the times and days you can workout this week. That is the secret to staying in shape!




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