Weapon of Fat Destruction

For those of us who are not genetically blessed with a “fast metabolism” we know that burning fat and keeping it off is hard work.  With that in mind I always make sure that my session are filled with as much “hard work” as I can fit into 30 minutes or an hour.  That may mean do anything from lifting weights to pulling sleds, to doing cardio intervals via sprints, rowing, etc..

One of the machines that I now use quite a bit is the Versa Climber.  I like to put the Versa Climber in the category of “machines that people walk by because it just doesn’t look right”.  While it is not as appealing as your normal treadmill or elliptical, it packs a punch.  It’s one of the few cardio machines that you can truly say works you entire body. In addtion to being rythmic in nature and getting the big muscle groups working, it challanges your core as well.

The makers of the Versa-Climber claim that it burns more calories that the treadmill or stepper (see chart below). While I can’t say that this clam is in fact true I do know that the VC is a great alternative to other machines and a great way to simply make people work harder.  How do I know that?  Because, I’ve seen clients who spend a lot of time in spin class and on the treadmill not last 5 minutes on this machine. 

If you have one of these machines in your gym walk up to it and give it a try.  I like to thrown it into my clients routines as a 2 minute cardio interval.  I would recommend starting there to get used to the machine before doing longer workouts.  For the 2 minute intervals keep your feet per minute climbing rate around or above 120 feet per minute. 

I always like to hear what industry leaders think of these machines.  Listen to what Mark Verstegan, one of the nations to strength and fitness coaches (http://www.athletesperformance.com/) has to say about the versa climber.

Good luck and keep looking for ways to work smarter and harder.

The One Machine In the Gym You Must Use

Today’s post has been a long time coming but the inspiration for it came a few weeks ago. I received an email from a PR person asking us to fill out a questionnaire for a well known women’s fitness magazine. The questionnaire asked which machines in the gym we found, as trainers, to be valuable. One of the questions asked, “what machine would you encourage our readers to avoid?” My answer, “All most all of them… well at least 75% of them.” I’ve long been a proponent of getting up and moving around. Given the opportunity, I would take 75% of the machines in our gym and put them out on Broadway with a big “for sale” sign on them.


There are,however, a few machines that I use on regular basis. The same questionnaire asked the question,“If you could recommend one machine in the gym to our readers, what wouldit be and why?” My answer, “The Free Motion cable machine, because you can work every body part, without sitting down and you can move in different directions while you’re doing it.” Most of my clients know this and have gotten to experience the free motion madness first hand. Below are 4 quick clips of a few of my favorite total body exercises to do the with Free Motion cable machine. Feel free to throw them into your workout, I’m sure they’ll make a difference:

Squat & Row:

Plain and simple, start with your arms extended. Squat and pull the cable back when you come up out of your squat.

Rotational Cross-Body Row:

Start facing away from the machine. Pivot your left leg and with your left hand reach across to grab the cable on the opposite side. Rotate and pull the cable across as you rotate. I also added a variation where you throw in a squat at the end, just in case you need to make it more difficult.

Single Leg Reach with Bicep Curl:

Start by balancing on one foot. Let the cable pull you forward and bend your knee. Squeeze you glutes as you stand up and do a bicep curl at the same time. Remember, whichever foot is on the floor you’ll be bicep curling with the opposite hand.

Tall Anti-Rotational Press:

This one used the concept of torque, you basically are using your obliques to keep the cable from turning you. Relax you shoulders and extend your arms to make sure that your obliques turn on.

Just What is a Plyometric Exercise? (Video)

Today’s post is an add- on to last week’s post: “Plyometrics for Runners?”  I wanted to take a second to clearly define what plyometrics are, why we use them and give a few examples of some basic plyo exercises.  I could put this all into my own words, but I think Wikipedia did a good job of hitting the nail right on the head:

Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities. Plyometrics has been shown across the literature to be beneficial to a variety of athletes. Benefits range from injury prevention, power development and sprint performance amongst others.

With that in mind, in the video below I give a few examples of some basic plyo exercise that almost anyone can put into their routine.  Have a look and give them a try.

Fix Your Lunge Form for Better Results

As a trainer in a public gym, I get to see people workout all day long. More times than not, I’ll see people doing exercises with form that makes me want to scream. With that in mind, today’s post is about one of the exercises that I see done with bad form more than any other: the lunge.

What people forget is that a lunge is meant to work only the front leg, the rear leg should be doing almost no work. In the video below my good friend Joanna does what I would consider to be a perfect lung. She has a slight forward bend, her rear leg is perpendicular to the floor and she pushes through the front leg to extend her hip and knee to stand up. Take note, this is the way your lunge should look.

Build Your Better Body On a Budget!

At my gym, I’m known for carrying around a black bag that contains a number of different workout tools. Some of my co-workers jokingly call it “Kelvin’s Bag-o-Tricks,” a name that I’ve affectionately adopted. It comes in handy during prime time training sessions in the gym when there’s usually a wait for equipment.

I created the “Bag-O-Tricks” during my early days as a personal trainer. Back then I would train my friends in central park in NYC before and after work (when I still had an office job). I said to myself, “How can I create a workout that would use minimal tools but have maximum impact?” I love working out, but I wasn’t about to schlep a bag of medicine balls and dumbbells all over New York City. With that my collection of tools was born.

So what’s in this bag you ask? Six easy tools (you can click on the photos below to read more about each of these tools):

1 – Set of 4 Mini Bands (Light, Medium, Heavy and Extra Heavy Resistances)

2 – All Purpose Exercise Bands (1 -Medium, 1- Heavy Resistance)


2 – Super bands (1/2 inch and 1 inch)

1 – Jungle Gym XT (Show above for bodyweight exercise)

Right now you’re probably saying, “Great Kelvin, now what does that mean for me?” Over the next few posts I’m going to show you some cheap tools that you can use anywhere to ramp up your workouts. No longer will you be able to use, “I don’t have time to go to the gym” or “it’s too expensive” as an excuse. The most expensive tool in my bag is $89 bucks (it’s literally its own gym) and the cheapest is a set of $2.50 bands that, when used correctly, will have your legs and arms looking and feeling toned in no time.

With these simple tools, I can give anyone one hell of a total body workout, anytime, anywhere. Over the next few posts I’ll should you how you can put these cheap tools to work for yourself. So put those excuses away and let’s get ready to work!