Tag Archives: exercise

3MChallenge – Meditate, Move, & Moments of Gratitude

Join me October 30 – November 20, 2017

Good news! You and a friend can participate from anywhere! I encourage you to sign up with a buddy and help keep each other accountable.

All participants will receive a free MMM Daily Tracker. Check off what you complete each day. Tell somebody. Share a photo of your completed tracker to be eligible to enter drawing for an Amazon Gift Card!

Why should you do the 3MChallenge?

The better question is why NOT do it?

It’s a great way to start the holiday season! Invite friends and family!
~Coach Candice

P.S. Here’s a link to the 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

All program info and daily posts will be shared in our closed 3MChallenge Facebook group.


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with your payment. 

Photo credit: William Farlow

It’s Time! Spring Accountability Group Starts Monday!

DURATION: 7 weeks

START DATE: Monday, March 13, 2017
END DATE: Sunday, April 30, 2017


This Accountability Group is open to former Best Body Countdown participants and ANYONE who wants to learn, grow, and increase their daily fitness, nutrition, and wellness accountability. Our group is perfect for anyone who needs an extra nudge of accountability and support from a trustworthy, reliable, and knowledgeable certified fitness professional. You can participate from anywhere!


Our Accountability Group will help you stay committed to your health, fitness, nutrition, and healthy living goals. This is about building a health conscious community of like-minded people who are open to learning and filled with a desire to improve their fitness.


  1. Weekly E-Check-ins

  2. Interactive Group Texts & Check-ins (via GroupMe app)

  3. Interactive Closed Facebook Group

  4. Group Fitness Challenges

  5. Motivational Quotes

  6. Recommended Reading

  7. Reflective Questions

  8. Goal Setting & Accountability Activities

  9. Fitness, Nutrition, & Wellness Tips & Tools

  10. Access to Certified Personal Trainer

We will heavily rely upon online and mobile technologies for communication, accountability, support, and motivation! (e.g., Facebook, GroupMe, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, SuperTracker, Fitness Blender, SworkIt, and more!)

$12 per week
($84 total for 7 weeks)

Partial payments accepted. Ask me how to set this up.


The Ultimate Workout Couples!

ultimate-couplesIn the spirit of Valentine’s and celebrating the power of individuals and complementary couples, we wanted to highlight two of the best exercise couples. These aren’t any type of couples–they are SUPER SET couples!

What’s a super set?

“The superset system uses two exercises performed in rapid succession of one another.”

Couple 1: Bench Press + Push Ups

This is an example of “performing two exercises for the same muscle group back to back.” Completing exercises in this format improves muscle endurance and size. If you want to kick it up a notch, try adding one or two more exercises targeting the same muscle. Using the example above, you could add a Dumbbell Chest Press and Resistance Band Chest Press.

Couple 2: Squats + Dead Lift

This is an example of “performing two exercises back to back that involve antagonist[, or opposing,] muscle groups.” Performing super sets in this manner allows you to place a higher load on target muscle(s) in each exercise. While one muscle group is working, the other is resting.

Want to learn how to integrate super sets into your workout routine? Contact us today!

Source: (National Academy of Sports Medicine, 2014)

Are Training Masks Good or Bad?


Have you ever seen someone in the gym that looks a little bit like the Predator?

You know, wearing a breathing mask on their face? Curious about these masks and their use?

They are called “hypoxia masks.”

Hypoxia (also known as hypoxiation) is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. (Merriam-Webster, 2016)

A 2010 research study concluded that “hypoxia as a supplement to training is not consistently found to be advantageous for performance at sea level. Stronger evidence exists for benefits of hypoxic training on performance at altitude.”

In other words, if you’re going to compete or begin training in Denver (5,280 ft above sea level), hike in Tibet (14,000 ft above sea level), or compete on Mount Everest (29,035 ft above sea level) anytime soon, you might want to add hypoxia training to your fitness regimen. But before you do, PLEASE CONSULT A MEDICAL DOCTOR.

So, what’s the point of using a hypoxia mask if you are not a hard core athlete?


Front of hypoxic training mask.

Another research study conducted back in 2007 concluded that “acute exposure of moderately trained subjects to normobaric hypoxia [i.e., a barometric pressure equivalent to pressure at sea level] during a short-term training program consisting of moderate- to high-intensity intermittent exercise has no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance.”

What does this mean? The average person who exercises to stay in shape and be healthy does not need to add hypoxia training to their workouts, because it doesn’t really have any benefits to your fitness performance. Why buy something that costs between $30-$100 if you simply don’t need it?

Another study (2001) concluded that when done correctly, intermittent hypoxia training has been shown to increases red blood cell count and aerobic capacity. Here, intermittent was defined as “5-7 minutes of steady or progressive hypoxia, interrupted by equal periods of recovery.”

So, wait. Who trains the trainer about how to effectively and safely conduct and supervise hypoxic training? 

Simple answer.

Close to nobody!

After conducting a preliminary web search, I only found a “Hypoxia and Hypoxic Training for High Performance” certification course conducted in Ireland.

Other than that, I found a few airlines that conduct employee training sessions about hypoxia altitude conditions for their flight staff–not the type of training we are talking about…

Your best bet is to read the user’s manual, consult your M.D., pray, and tell someone when you are using it (just in case you pass out from doing too much all at once).

One of the master trainers for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Karl Sterling, provides some very helpful firsthand feedback about wearing and using a hypoxic training mask (HTM).

In a nutshell, here are the pros and cons of using HTMs.



Inside of hypoxic training mask.

  • Add variation to your workouts
  • Helps you focus on your breathing during exercise
  • Become more efficient using oxygen and increase performance
  • Look cool at the gym


  • Cost ($30-$100)
  • One more thing to carry in your gym bag
  • Minimal experts available to teach you how to safely train with a hypoxic training mask
  • Limited research
  • Look creepy at the gym

Additional Reading:

Google scholar search results for “hypoxic training benefits.”

Hingerhofer-Szalkay H. (2010, Jan.). Intermittent hypoxic training risks versus benefits. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(2), 417.  doi 10.1007/s00421-009-1274-4

Roberts, A. (n.d.) The truth about hypoxic training and oxygen reducing masks.

Walther, J. (2015). Can a hypoxic training mask improve performance? National Association of Sports Medicine.

Shi, B. Watanabe, T., Shin, S., Yabumoto, T., Takemura, M., & Matsuoka, T. (2014, Jan.) Effect of hypoxic training on inflammatory and metabolic risk factors: a crossover study in healthy subjects. doi 10.1002/phy2.198

Why Does Exercising Make My Nose Run? 


The running nose!

This infamously happens when I train one of my clients. Recently, my client sent me a few articles about what she believes is happening to her sinuses when she performs various exercises. And of course, I looked a bit more into it. Here is what I found.

What Is It?

It’s called exercise-induced rhinitis (EIR). The root word is rhino, meaning nose, and the suffix, itis, meaning inflammation. In other words, exercising can inflame your nose.

What are the Symptoms? 

When you stop to think about it, it makes sense to experience rhinitis when performing physical activity. Increased blood flow and oxygen to your nasal passages may negatively impact your sinuses and cause airborne irritants such as mold and pollen to get into your system and result in congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchiness, and watery eyes. Basically, EIR is annoying and you should add tissues to your list of essential items to bring to your workouts!

What Does the Research Say?

A 2006 research study examined EIR in adults “with and without nasal allergy who exercise regularly to determine the prevalence and nature of nasal symptoms induced by indoor exercise.”

Forty percent of participants indicated that indoor EIR negatively impacted physical activity. This more frequently occurred in individuals with nasal allergies. Likewise, outdoor EIR occurred in 56.1% of the total population–with participants with nasal allergies reporting more rhinitis (71.6% vs. 41%).

The study concluded that EIR “commonly occurs in athletes regardless of underlying nasal allergy.”

What does this mean? Well, if you already have nasal allergies, you are more likely to experience EIR compared to folks who do not already have nasal allergies. However, EIR is fair game to all of us.


photo credit: livestrong.com

Causes of EIR

There is limited research about the causes of EIR. Your guess is as good as mine and the next researcher. Check out with Livestrong.com writer, Matthew Lee, found out about the causes of EIR.

How to Manage EIR

In a nutshell, the most natural and drug free way to manage EIR is to carry a small pack of tissues during your workouts. However, some folks may want or need to take antihistamines. (Silvers, 1992)

Whatever you do, do NOT let a runny nose hold you back from your BEST workout! Pack some tissues in a sweat proof container and get to it! Happy training!

Pedaling Backwards, Good or Bad?


As a certified Spinning® indoor cycling instructor, I’ve recently noticed a trend in seeing some of my class participants integrating backwards pedaling into their workout. Not per my advice, of course. Outside of telling them the bikes are not made for backwards pedaling and the unnecessary stress they may be placing on their knee joints, I felt compelled to conduct a review of the literature on this topic and follow up with my class participants next week.

Spinning®, one of the premier international indoor cycling certifications, does not recommend pedaling backwards. Here’s why.

Pedaling backward is risky on a fixed gear bike. If riders try to quickly stop the flywheel while pedaling backward, the compressive forces on the knee joint can be sufficient enough to tear cartilage or the meniscus. Also, pedaling backward may hyperextend the legs, which could damage the ACL or other soft tissue of the knee joints. Aside from being risky, a further reason not to do it is that there is no physiological advantage to it. A study in the Strength and Conditioning Journal showed that muscle contribution and metabolic cost were the same for pedaling forward and backward. Lastly, this movement puts the bike at risk as well. Pedaling backward may eventually unscrew the pedals from the crank arm.

Source: (Spinning®, 2015, Retrieved from http://www.spinning.com/en/spinning_program_faq)

Of course, I probed a little deeper and looked for the study referenced above in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. I could not find it. After asking around a few professional networks, it is believed the SCJ article was in reference to the ACE study I discuss below.

Any who…

In May 2015, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted an independent study to determine if and how pedaling backwards increases sports performance. Important note, the research was conducted on  Cascade recumbent bikes (and not a Spinning® or standard upright indoor cycling bike) that have bi-directional resistance throughout the entire 360 degree motion of the pedals.

The study revealed that pedaling backward on the Cascade cycle elicited higher heart-rate and energy-cost values than when pedaling at identical workloads in the forward direction.

“Pedaling backward…has been observed to reduce pressure on the tibiofemoral joint which may offer value in the rehabilitation of meniscal problems or tibiofemoral osteoarthritis.” ~ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D

Dr. Porcari and his research team recommend treating backward pedaling on a Cascade recumbent bike as a change of pace and a form of cross training to better target the quadriceps. The improved quadriceps strength resulting from pedaling backward may eventually produce an enhanced cycling experience by making pedaling forward mentally and physically easier.

Read about the full ACE study here.

Check out what John Macgowan, a 20 year veteran indoor cycling instructor, had to say about the ACE study. He concluded:

There doesn’t appear to be enough positive benefits, in contrast with the possible injury. Not to mention pedaling backwards just looks wrong/goofy, So I can’t see including it in my class.

Me too, Mr. Macgowan, me too.

So let’s wrap this up!

Should we or should we NOT pedal backwards on our indoor cycling bikes?

Nope. Thou shall not pedal backwards on your indoor cycling bike.

The reality is that you still may consider doing it anyways. (Aren’t you adventurous?!?!) So, here’s a short list of what I believe we should all do if and when we consider pedaling backwards in our indoor cycling class or on our personal indoor cycling bike. WAIT! Before you read this list, remember that I believe, “Thou shall not pedal backwards on your indoor cycling bike.” Okay, please continue reading.

  1. Check with the manufacturer of your bike and find out if pedaling backwards is safe for the bike. More than likely, it is not and will result in unnecessary wear and tear and decreased safety on the bike. 
  2. wrongway.jpgA good rule of thumb is to NOT do anything you would NOT do on a REAL BIKE on a REAL OUTDOOR ROAD. Marinate on that for a minute. (How would you climb an outdoor hill while pedaling backwards? How far would you get sprinting pedaling backwards on a flat road?)
  3. Advice participants with prior lower body injuries or ailments to consult their physician PRIOR TO insisting that they integrate backwards pedaling into their cycling workout.


Cyber Monday Fitness & Giving Fitness Tuesday!

Oreadykay. So there was Black Friday. Then we had Small Business Saturday. Today is Cyber Monday and tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.

Why not invest in a consultation, fitness assessments, and personal training sessions for YOU and give the gift of fitness and wellness to a loved one?

Review our services. Decide what is best for you. Propose a fitness and wellness package unique to you. We love customizing our services!

Good news! We work with local (Woodbridge, VA ) and long-distance clients!

Make sure you check out the 52-Day Best Body Countdown. Pre-registration is open through Jan. 4. The countdown starts Jan. 19!

Contact us today to get started!






photo credit: writetribe.com

On-Your-Own 43-Minute Interval Energy Zone Spinning® Ride


Enjoy this 45ish minute interval ride on-your-own at the gym. This ride requires an indoor bike with a cycle machine that shows your RPM speed. Otherwise, you need a metronome to help you gauge your cadence OR you can go old school and count the number of times your pedal completes a full rotation over a duration of 10 seconds.

70 RPM    11-12 rotations
80 RPM    13-14 rotations
90 RPM    15 rotations
100 RPM   16-17 rotations
110 RPM    18-19 rotations

0:00-3:00 | Seated Flat | 80-95RPM | Warm-Up. Gradually increase cadence. RPE 3.

3:00-5:00 | Seated Flat | 80 RPM | Stay disciplined at this cadence with light resistance. Continuation of your warm-up. RPE 3.

5:00-7:00 | Standing Flat | 70 RPM  | Add enough resistance to support your weight out of the saddle. Come up to Hand Position #2. RPE 4.

7:00-9:30 | Jumps | 70 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb (small incline) in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will elevate to 6 because HR will increase!

9:30-13:00 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!

13:00-15:00 | Seated Flat | 90 RPM |

15:00-17:00 | Standing Flat | 80-90 RPM | RPE 4.

17:00-18:30 | Jumps | 90 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position 2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position 2.

18:30-21:30 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!

21:30-23:30 | Seated Flat | 100 RPM

23:30-25:30 | Standing Flat | 90-100 RPM

25:30-27:00 | Jumps | 100 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!

27:00-30:00 | Seated Flat | 80-100 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Start at lower end of cadence range. As you feel HR recover, gradually increase speed and hold at steady rate. Slow, deep, intentional breathing!

30:00-31:30| Seated Flat | 95-110 RPM | Option to ride at lower end of range to maintain steady cadence.

31:30-33:30 | Standing Flat | 100-110 RPM

33:30-35:00 | Jumps | 100-110 RPM | 10 seconds in and out of saddle from Seated Climb in Hand Position #2 and up into Standing Flat in Hand Position #2. RPE will rise to 7-8 due to jumps!

35:00-36:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover.

36:00-37:00 | Jumps | 80-100 RPM | Slightly add resistance. RPE 4. Complete 4 jumps up into Standing Flat in HP#2 and back down to Seated Flat in HP#2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!

37:00-38:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover.

38:00-39:00 | Jumps | 80-100 RPM | Slightly add resistance. RPE 4. Complete 4 jumps up into Standing Flat in HP#2 and back down to Seated Flat in HP#2. RPE will rise to 7/8 due to jumps!

39:00-40:00 | Seated Flat | 80-90 RPM | Recover. Allow heart rate and breathing to come back down. Slow, deep, intentional breathing! RPE 3.

40:00-43:00 | Seated Flat | 80 RPM | Cool-down. RPE 3.


Calf, Quad, Hamstring, Hip Flexor, Shoulders, Back, Neck…

4 Ways to Maintain Fitness Regimen & Healthy Nutrition at a Professional Conference

Plan your workout and WORK OUT YOUR PLAN.

 What do I mean by this?

Today’s blog was inspired by one of my personal training clients. Over the weekend I asked her to brainstorm some ways she can maintain both her fitness and nutrition regimen while out of town at a professional conference. When our Monday evening training session commenced, I asked her if she had given any thought to her anticipated travel schedule later this month.

Her responses blew me away!

Needless to say, her ideas fill almost all of the content of today’s blog post. Let’s call her ideas CFWTs…that’s short for Conference Fitness & Wellness Tips.


CFWT #1: Think about what you NEED to support your fitness and wellness goals.

Extra soft pillows?

No microwave in the room because you know you may buy processed foods that warm up rather nicely inside of it?womannike

An extra large refrigerator to store all of the fresh foods you purchase at a nearby market?

No coffee maker with cream and sugar packets in the room? (eliminate the temptation) No wet bar with alcoholic beverages? (once again, eliminate temptation)

Maybe a tea kettle and caffeine free tea packets instead of coffee?

A room far from or close to the elevator and/or ice machine?

A pool? Free weights? Resistance bands?

Maybe you need to buy a small, travel sized foam roller or resistance band to bring with you…

*Student Affairs administrator, Tara Rabinowitz, recently suggested bringing your favorite protein or superfood shake and shaker cup.

Think about your environment at home and what makes it affirming of your fitness and wellness goals and daily practices. How can you recreate some of those elements while traveling. Make a list and have it handy for CFWT #2…

CFWT #2: Call the conference hotel at least one week BEFORE your conference. Find out if they have a fitness center, a microwave and/or refrigerator in your guest room, what restaurants are onsite or nearby, and see if there are any local hiking, biking, walking, running trails and parks. 

Ask for what you need. If you don’t ask for it, the hotel will not provide it. You may be surprised about the accommodations they can make for you IN ADVANCE.

CFWT #3: Proactively identify ways you can eat unprocessed, whole-grain, fresh, organic and non-GMO (if possible) and nutrient rich foods during your trip.

My client told me her partner will mail her a care package full of healthy foods. This way she does not have to shop for it when she arrives at her conference hotel. She’ll be all set from Day 1!

Can you pack a travel size cooler that you can bring filled up with your favorite healthy goodies to your conference sessions?

Is there a grocery store nearby? (or farmers’ market, co-op)market

Do you know some of the places you may “have” to eat at for networking and social events? Can you access the menu PRIOR to your trip? Figure out what the healthy meals and possibilities can be before you arrive at the restaurant.

Have a back up plan!

Bring a refillable water bottle or buy a few big 2L bottles and store them in your room so you can drink at least 1 per day.

CFWT #4: Get your hands on the conference agenda IN ADVANCE.

First, identify everything you MUST attend.

Second, identify everything you WANT to attend (maybe mark this in a different color).

Third, identify time in the days you will dedicate to implementing your fitness workout, showering, AND eating. Be willing to compromise your WANTS for your fitness and wellness goals for the week.

If you do all of this in advance, you should be able to find someone who can grab extra handouts and any other resources shared at some of the “WANT” sessions you will not attend.

Lastly, tell somebody at the conference about your fitness and wellness plan for the weekend/week. Maybe invite that person to one of your workouts or alternative healthy meals. Ask someone from back home to check-in with you daily and ask about your daily fitness and nutrition.

Learn more tips about maintaining fitness while traveling! <— that’s a link to my August 2013 blogpost about this topic. Go ahead, click on it.

Safe travels everyone!



Pushing Past Feeling Stuck in Old Habits Part 2 of 2

This is Part 2 of 2 from the prior post, “Pushing Past Feeling Stuck in Old Habits Part 1 of 2.” First and foremost, I can’t believe it’s September already! I should have posted this last month! Anyways, I digress…

So, what happened with the person who was trying to push past feeling stuck in old habits? Unfortunately, this person is still feeling a bit stuck. German professor of Sports Science, Dr. Walter Brehm (2004), would describe this person as being in the Preparation phase of the Stages of Change model (see photo below). This means the person might exercise in some capacity occasionally (e.g., walk to work, take the steps instead of the elevator, maybe even do some push ups), but would like to begin a regular exercise routine within the next month. However, “next month” might not come anytime soon because the person may have unrealistic personal goals and expectations. Stages of Change Model

When a person is in this stage, it’s important to create and clarify realistic goals, draw upon positive past experiences with exercise, identify and utilize a support network, and be realistic about any and all limitations (schedule, injuries, health concerns). Thankfully, a certified personal trainer can help with all of this!

So what’s next? Realistically, this person could stay in this stage for quite some time, but what will help is EDUCATION. It’s important to simply immerse ourselves into what we would like to do. For example. If I want to start walking, I might want to conduct a Google search about “benefits of walking.” Or perhaps I look for a local MeetUp group that walks in my neighborhood. Maybe I ask around my circles of friends, family, and colleagues—who else walks? Can I walk with you? And so on…you get the gist of it.why

My last tip for this person and ALL OF US (myself included), is to DEFINE and remember our WHY. Why do we want to exercise in the first place? Why does it truly matter? So what if I lose weight? Why does it matter? After we define our why we must hold it dearly to our hearts because THE ANSWER TO OUR WHY keeps us MOTIVATED. It really does. I usually probe my clients heavily when answering and uncovering their why. I don’t settle for “to lose weight” or “to fit into my pants” or “to look better.” I really want (you) to know why all of that matters to YOU. Sometimes tears surface when we get to the heart of our why.

For me, it’s two fold. First, food and nutrition are important to me. I love to eat, I don’t like being hungry, and I hate for others to be hungry and unable to afford the cost of a basic, healthy meal. As I continue to grow and reach my first financial goal as a professional business, I will begin to collaborate and financially partner with local non-profits that provide healthy meal options and education to families and individuals in need. Second, I simply do NOT want to become a statistic! Black women are at the top of almost every chart that lists demographic groups hit the hardest by various chronic diseases. I want to proactively do my best to stay off of these lists! Check out some statistics…

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listing of 10 Leading Causes of Death for African Americans
Check out the CDC’s lists for other ethnic and special populations
Another comprehensive listing of various chronic diseases prevalent in specific ethnic groups

So, in a nutshell, it is my goal to stick around and hang out for a while on this planet called Earth for a long time. I would like to see my little 11 month old nephew grow up into a man and ACTIVELY participate in all of the fun things to enter his life in the years to come! Plus, I want to continue to have as many options as possible that require mobility of my body. I actually enjoy moving and doing things. Go figure! (smile)

In conclusion, I leave you with a simple, yet complex question. What’s the answer to your WHY?


Brehm, B. (2004). Successful fitness motivation strategies. Human Kinetics, 21-40. Champaign, IL.


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