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How a trainer stays in shape part I: The exercise

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  September 24, 2012 03:04 PM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

As a personal trainer, I’m often asked how I exercise or what I eat to maintain my physique. Here’s Part I, a glimpse into my personal workout routine. As a caveat, my manner of exercise and eating will certainly not be for everyone, and it is based on my education, experiences, and careful monitoring of my body in regard to what I respond well to. There are many paths that can lead to a healthy body and for me; this is what has worked best.

Exercise has always been enjoyable to me. I love to push myself, to continually improve, get stronger, feel better, and end a workout feeling empowered and ready to tackle what life might throw at me. It’s a huge stress reliever but it also helps me maintain a healthy figure. To do this, I include three strength training sessions each week that last anywhere from 45-60 minutes.

I focus on two routines comprised of six to eight exercises each, alternating them for about four to six weeks before I create two new routines with different exercises. Every strength session starts with a 10 minute warm-up that incorporates foam rolling, stretching, and dynamic movements to prepare my body for the exercises and intensity that lie ahead. The workouts focus on variations of exercises that incorporate many muscle groups at a time, such as: squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, push-ups, and pull-ups to give me more bang for my back so to speak. I work all the major muscle groups each time I strength train. Because of this, I never strength train on back-to-back days so that my body can get the rest and recovery it needs. Typically these workouts fall on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Another way I design my programs is to make sure that I have the pushing exercises in balance with the pulling exercises, both vertical and horizontal, and hip dominant and knee dominant lower body exercises balanced as well. This helps prevent strength imbalances in the body and injuries too.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my twice weekly high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. HIIT is an extremely time efficient means of cardio that is also very effective when training for fat loss. After a good warm-up, I alternate brief periods of very difficult work lasting anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds that leave me huffing and puffing, with periods of very easy recovery sometimes just for 10 seconds, other times up to 2 minutes depending on the length of work, which allow me to catch my breath. These sessions are usually 15 to 20 minutes long, including the warm-up and cool-down. I use different modes for these including the treadmill, bike, stair climber, hill sprints, battling ropes, or even bodyweight exercises such as burpees. I love these workouts not only because they’re fast, but I can do them in my kitchen, at the gym, or even as sprints with my dog on our daily walk.

The sixth day each week is my active recovery day. This is an unstructured, lower intensity day when I can do whatever dynamic activity I so choose. Whether that’s going for a long walk, taking a group exercise class, doing yard work, or swimming; the choice is mine.

Sunday is the final day, and one where I have a chance to let my body completely recover and rest. Although when I’m chasing after my two-year-old son, doing laundry, and preparing our food for the week, you can bet I’m not idle for too long! Stay tuned for part II next week; what I eat to contribute to my healthy body and lifestyle.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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