All posts by Nicki Anderson

Abs-olutely Fit—The truth about burning belly fat

iStock_000024580770LargeIt seems the older we get, the more we long for those perfect abs commonly featured in magazines. However, the older we get, the harder it seems to achieve. Though many believe that doing endless crunches is the secret to a six-pack, it’s much more than that. Nutrition and cardiovascular work are the ingredients necessary to achieve abs of steel, or at least close to it.

The Myths

Karen Wick, personal trainer at Edward Fitness Center, is often asked what machine is best to tone the belly. “Many people still think that doing countless sit-ups every day will give you six pack abs. The truth is, getting great abs involves good, balanced nutrition, along with cardio exercise to burn the calories and fat off. You can’t neglect strength exercises that are necessary to build the muscle. All three have to be done consistently to achieve strong, lean, abs.”

This is the time of year when every gadget imaginable is advertised to guarantee a toned tummy your friends and family will envy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a gadget in the world, at least not yet, that gives the same results you can get from a good workout and healthy eating.

“It is definitely possible to achieve a six pack,” said Wick. “Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a board-certified family physician specializing in nutrition-based treatments for obesity says ‘You have to eat to live instead of living to eat. By eating clean, your abs will get lean.’ I completely agree with that philosophy.”

The Truth

Darcie Purcell, owner and certified personal trainer of The Space in Naperville, reminds people that there are other factors which dictate the type of abs you can achieve.

“My clients, who are primarily men and women ranging in age from 30 to 60, need to focus on getting rid of belly fat for their health. The sixpack depends on the individual, their dedication, heredity, hormones for women over 40, as well as lifestyle choices,” said Purcell.

What Works

So, what are the best exercises to decrease fat around the abdominal area and develop tone and strength? Wick says intervals are a great start.

“The best exercise for shrinking the tummy is doing cardio intervals like running, bike riding, or stair climbing. The idea is to mix hard effort with recovery. Do this consistently twice a week. Work abs by doing a variety of abdominal exercises, to mix it up. Then go home and eat your vegetables,” said Wick.

Avoid One Size Fits All

Purcell warns to avoid one-size-fits-all suggestions. “Flexion can be difficult if not contraindicated for some clients with neck or back issues. So something like a traditional bicycle or tuck crunch could exacerbate these types of issues.”

It starts with finding what works for each individual.

“When exercising, you want to be sure to work different muscles. So, traditionally three to four basic ab exercises that cover all stomach muscle groups work better than one secret ab exercise,” said Purcell.

Both experts remind us that in order to get a tummy to be proud of, diet and cardio are an absolute must in addition to traditional abdominal work.

So, if you’re seeking those ideal abs, be realistic. Understand that age and heredity play a role in what you can achieve. Also, if you’re knocking yourself out at the gym but going home and downing pizza and beer, you’re likely not going to achieve great abs.

Your best bet is to sit down with a fitness professional and talk about your goals. That way, you have someone that can create a program that can help you achieve the goals you want versus spending hours in a gym with no results.

Just Roll With It—Preventing Sports Injuries with MFR


Most of us can relate to the numerous relaxation benefits of a massage. However, if you don’t have time to connect with your massage therapist, a do-it-yourself massage technique called Myofascial Release (MFR) is a convenient, growing, and inexpensive option. Done correctly, MFR can keep your body strong and injury free.

What is MFR?

Like a massage, Myofascial Release is a soft tissue therapy designed to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate stretch reflex in muscles. More and more athletes are utilizing home MFR tools to keep their muscles healthy and their performance optimal.

To help you visualize what the fascia is, consider a cut of meat. The very thin white skin that covers the meat is the fascia. It serves to support and surround our muscles. In a healthy body, the fascia helps maintain good posture, range of motion, and flexibility. It also gives our body tremendous strength helping us deal with excessive stress and injuries.

The Benefits of MFR

Injuries, repetitive motion, or even prolonged inactivity can degrade the function of your muscles and fascia.

“The result is localized areas with compromised function, commonly referred to as knots or trigger points,” said Kristy Lancaster, licensed, orthopedic massage therapist. “This causes tenderness to the touch and restricted movement of the surrounding muscle.”

Declining function of muscles and fascia can cause serious issues. “When dysfunctional, your fascia will restrict the flow of oxygen, nutrients, and lymphatic fluid to the tissues,” said Lancaster. “When normal (or healthy) function is restored in your fascia, the delivery of oxygen and nutrients via blood flow to the surrounding tissues is restored, and the metabolic waste is removed from your cells, promoting healthy circulation.”

Bottom line, healthy fascia allows healthy performance.

That is where MFR comes in. “The health of dysfunctional tissue can often be restored through proper Myofascial Release therapy and should initially be provided by a trained health care professional,” said Lancaster.

MFR at Home

If you’re considering MFR, Lancaster suggests initial therapy be done under the supervision of a skilled professional to learn proper technique and minimize injury. Getting expert insight assures that whatever tool or technique you’re using, you’re doing it right, making the process effective.

Here are a few of my favorite products on the market.

The Trigger Point ® Therapy system is what I currently use and is excellent for lower body. As a runner, I try to use my deep massage kit at least three times per week. I used to deal with chronic plantar fasciatis. Since I’ve used the system, I’ve remained healthy.

Theracane: The hardest part of the body to reach is the neck and trapezius (upper back). The unique design of the Theracane allows you to reach those areas. It has six different massaging points enabling you to tackle your neck, back, arms, and legs. The hook serves to address your neck, back, and hips. The other points are great for hip flexors and triceps.

Power stick: Also known as “the stick” has been around for a while. It was one of the first tools I used to address my quadriceps and calf issues. The 27” stick allows you to roll using greater pressure and accessing deeper areas. Although the stick can be used on both lower and upper body, if you have limited upper body mobility, the 27” stick is best.

Lancaster reminds us that despite the benefits of MFR the ‘No Pain, No Gain’ myth, is a dangerous philosophy. “Any program which places joints, muscles, fascia, or any other connective tissues in jeopardy of pain (by force or otherwise), will endanger the tissues that are incorrectly acted upon.”

As long as you consult a professional first, MFR can be the secret ingredient to a solid recovery program.

Heart Healthy—What Every Woman Should Know About Heart Disease

iStock_000016371772LargeFebruary is American Heart Month. As much as we read about breast cancer and the number of women impacted each year, heart disease is the number one killer of women causing one in three deaths annually. Therefore, understanding the causes, warning signs and ways to prevent heart disease are your best defense against this serious health threat.

Heart Disease Myths

Heart disease only targets older women. 

Heart disease is not discerning as it affects women of all ages. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking increases heart disease risks by 20 percent. And though it is true that age increases risk, lifestyle habits such as overeating and inactivity causes plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life. Even if you are active and eat well, an underlying heart condition at birth counts as a risk factor.

If you’re healthy, heart disease won’t affect you. 

No matter what your activity level, no matter how connected you are with your Zen, you’re not exempt from disease. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you begin getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease.

Same symptoms as men. 

Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, they’re often misunderstood. We have been conditioned to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. See warning signs later in this article.

Causes of Heart Disease

Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Numerous problems can result from this, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow which may cause a heart attack or stroke.

Warning Signs

Only one in five American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health risk. Women are less likely to call 911 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack themselves.

Although the symptoms are not always as severe or prominent as they are in men, women are more likely to experience the following symptoms.

• Neck, shoulder, upper back and abdominal discomfort

• Shortness of breath

• Nausea or vomiting

• Sweating

• Lightheadedness or dizziness

• Unusual fatigue.

Women are more likely to dismiss these symptoms and chalk them up to something else. Because some women tend to focus less on their personal health risks, they often wait too long for treatment and the outcome can be fatal.


There are many things you can do to prevent heart disease especially regarding your lifestyle.

• If you’re a smoker, quit

• Manage your blood sugar

• Monitor your blood pressure

• Lower your cholesterol

• Know your family history

• Stay active

• Lose weight

• Eat healthy

Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. But nothing can improve without action. With the right information, education and care, heart disease can be successfully treated in women. Listen to your body, take care of yourself and share what you know about heart disease with other women. It just may save a life.

Giving the Gift of Health—Holiday gift ideas for the fitness fanatic on your list

N2013_12_01_002FITNEIt’s the time of year when finding the perfect holiday gift is paramount. Health and fitness gifts are often popular requests thanks to the self-imposed deadline of January 1—the unofficial day of fitness redemption. Whether the recipient is a diehard fitness enthusiast, a novice exerciser, or a weekend warrior, there is always something special to keep under wraps until gifts are exchanged. Check out the suggestions below created to help with your search for the perfect fitness gift.

Workout clothes

You can’t go wrong with fitness clothes, just make sure you get the size right. Looking back, fitness clothing has come a long way. Today, there are literally hundreds of fitness clothing lines all offering their unique twist on comfort, technology, and convenience. Creative designs now accommodate your iPhone, cash, and keys without the bulk. In the world of fitness fashion, you won’t be limited with choices.

Jump rope 

If you think jump ropes are just for school playgrounds, think again. Jump ropes are now designed for heavy-duty fitness training and can be found in most gyms and fitness centers around the world. If you’ve got someone looking to add interval options to their workout, a jump rope is a perfect solution. A jump rope is an inexpensive and convenient way to add a powerful cardiovascular kick to any workout.

Mini trampoline 

When I attended a fitness conference this summer, I witnessed some fun rebounding classes, which is basically bouncing on a mini trampoline. Making its resurgence back into fitness classes, rebounding is a safe and easy way to get a decent workout. It’s ideal for those seeking an effective low-impact and pain free activity that is good not only for your musculoskeletal system, but cardiovascular system too.

Trigger Point roller 

As a runner, Trigger Point Therapy saved me. I’m susceptible to plantar fasciitis, and using the Trigger point system has kept my body healthy. The way the system works is by utilizing a roller to massage the muscles enabling them to move more freely and efficiently, while improving overall performance. Great for runners, soccer players, basketball players, or any sport that is lower body dominant.

Meditation cushion

A great idea for yogis. A meditation cushions is just one of many yoga props that can greatly improve posture and comfort during meditation. People who use them swear by them. You can learn more by visiting,

2GB W Series Walkman Meb Kaflezighi

This is a super cool gift for the novice exerciser or someone looking to reclaim motivation. This water-resistant MP3 player is only a pair of earbuds, meaning no bulky radio/phone. The player is pre-loaded with audio tips, including running, nutrition, stretching and more. You can also create your favorite playlists in iTunes® or Windows Media Player and drag them to the Walkman® player. At around $60, it’s a great, reasonable gift idea for all fitness levels.

Gift Certificates

It may seem obvious, but spa gift certificates are always winners. Be it a massage or facial, there’s nothing that’s more welcoming than an opportunity to relax after the stress of the season or an athletic event. Check out. which allows you to purchase a gift certificate that can be used at a number of spa establishments.

Stocking stuffer ideas 

Stuff stockings with athletic socks, water bottles with carrier, lip balm, heavy duty hand cream, headbands, hair ties, disposable wash-ups, yoga mat or bag, sports bag, gift cards to a bike shop for a tune-up, sports-specific laundry detergent (so appreciated for the gross smelling technical fabrics). Remember, little things mean a lot.

Giving the gift of health is not only a great gift idea, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.


Indoor Cycling—Pedaling your way to fitness

Group of People Cycling at GymIndoor cycling has pedaled its way to the top of the activities list. From the very first Schwinn stationary bike (yes, I had one), to the debut of spinning bikes in the late ‘80s, indoor cycling continues to evolve. Thanks to the latest technology, indoor cycling is becoming more interesting, challenging, and motivating than ever.

As winter approaches, avid cyclists no longer have to worry about losing headway during the cold months. There are plenty of indoor options for elite cyclists as well as the novice cyclist. Though spinning still holds its own at the top of the popularity list, there are other alternatives you may want to check out.

Computerized Cycling

Brant Speed, general manager and coach of Pedal Hard Training in Austin, Texas knows the importance of personalizing cycling for participants. “At Pedal Hard, we use Computrainers to control the resistance during workouts. Each Computrainer has a power meter and a cadence sensor. This allows users to ride their own bikes with their specific fit.”  All riders are given specific workouts, including goals for both power and cadence. Workouts are designed with each rider’s current fitness goals in mind.

 Simulated Bike Rides

Another new and exciting kid on the block is RealRyder.® Developed by avid cyclist Colin Irving, in Santa Monica, California, RealRyder takes the moves and feel of outdoor cycling and brings it indoors. What separates this bike from the rest is that the rider has the ability to turn, lean, steer, race and climb. According to their website, “Whether you’re a cycling nut or a functional training junkie, the RealRyder Bike offers superior biomechanical, physiological and emotional benefits over your everyday stationary bike.” Currently, the only place to find RealRyder classes is in Chicago. However, check with your local fitness center.

I recently attended a fitness conference and came across another indoor cycling trend with bikes designed by Matrix. These indoor cycling bikes are pretty incredible. When you hop on the bike, you can make a selection on where you’d like your scenic ride to take you. You can select riding around the historic Grand Canyon or along the beautiful, scenic routes in Hawaii, or other locations. You can take advantage of these Virtual Active bikes via group training class, or a bike can be purchased for personal use. Scenic bike rides can be as long as 90 minutes. For information on where to find a class, visit,

 Whole Body Workouts

Hard core cyclists may not love the idea of adding in different types of exercise while cycling, but for time management purposes, it is certainly worth a try. SoulCycle® was created by Elizabeth Outler and Julie Rice. Both avid fitness enthusiasts, they thought there was something missing with traditional cycling classes. Through research and creativity, they developed the SoulCycle Method.

Combining inspirational coaching and high energy music, each SoulCycle ride delivers an intense full-body workout with a fun and energizing atmosphere. According to the website, not only do riders burn calories and get their hearts pumping, but using the SoulCycle Method, riders also work their core and use hand weights to tone their upper bodies. Typical classes are 60 minutes.

There are also classes combining yoga with cycling as well as high intensity training. Technology is ever changing which means indoor cycling innovations will continue to evolve. Making simulation more life-like and bikes more accommodating for different sizes, shapes, and fitness levels means that cycling will grow to new levels, perhaps bringing in those riders who might have shied away from cycling deeming it one dimensional.

Check with your local fitness facility about what cycling classes are available. Here’s to a great ride.

Warriors and Spartans—The New Look of Fitness

N2013_10_01_003FITNEIf the idea of running through mud, navigating your way through barbed wire and electrical fences, jumping through fire and over ice cold ponds excites you, keep reading. In the last few years there has been a proliferation of obstacle races all over the country and these races are drawing record numbers of attendees. If you’re ready to test your endurance, speed, and strength, there’s no shortage of opportunities to participate. Warning: These events are not for wimps.

Obstacle races are now all over the world. The idea is to develop obstacle courses which challenge competitors both physically and mentally. There is no shortage of creativity with the obstacles and these events. Some of the obstacles include, climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects, traversing bodies of water, crawling under barbed wire and jumping through fire. Some liken the courses to military training. Races do vary in both distance and difficulty.
Though each obstacle race touts itself as the best, toughest or most fun, only the few and the proud can really explain what happens in these races and why anyone would want to do them. Many, but not all races, are partnered with a charitable organization. Two of the most popular are the Wounded Warrior Project and Homes for Our Troops.

Kyle Nixon did his first Tough Mudder in 2011. “The hardest part was the water obstacles. I did the event in November so it was about 35 degrees.” At eight miles, medics wanted to treat his hypothermia, but he turned them away. “I didn’t want any help, I wanted to finish and I did. As tough as it was, I felt like I conquered the world when I finished. I’ll always be up for another Tough Mudder,” said Nixon.

The Tough Mudder requires participants to be in good shape. The challenge includes a 10-to-12-mile run with a myriad of unusually challenging obstacles including ice baths, fire, live electrical wires, tunnel crawls, barbed wire. Despite the crazy obstacles, this race is more popular than ever. This year, Tough Mudder registered more than 500,000 participants for 35 events, bringing in $70 million in revenue.

Another variation of Tough Mudder, is Muddy Buddy. Terri Hayes, owner of Artistic Creations in Naperville started doing the Muddy Buddy event with her brother a few years ago. “I saw a segment on the news about Muddy Buddy and it sounded like a great challenge.

I called my brother who is an ex-marine and he said to sign us up! I like the fact that the event benefits the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Hayes.

For Hayes, the biggest challenge was her petite frame. “Walking through chest high mud was brutal. I’m only 5’2” and I had to go 1/8 of a mile without getting stuck or falling over. It’s such a mental game. The best part is that you can conquer many fears through this event. I felt pretty beat up when I finished, but I’ll do it again.”

The Warrior Dash is the largest obstacle race series in the world. The inaugural Warrior Dash took place on July 18, 2009 in Joliet at CPX Sports with more than 2,000 participants.

“The Warrior Dash was something different and I liked the idea of getting dirty and having obstacles to take my mind off of the running part,” said Jennifer Caponi of Naperville.
Warrior Dash offers varying levels of difficulty allowing greater participation for all levels.
Wil Anderson of Naperville completed his first 3.5 mile Warrior Dash in August. “Yeah, it was challenging, but fun. I was worried it might be tough. But I made my way up the 30 foot rope wall, through some barbed wire and managed to finish feeling pretty good. At the end, I donated my shoes for recycling.”

In 2012, Warrior Dash experienced their largest season with more than 700,000 participants from all over the world. 2013 is projected to attract more than one million participants.
With all the fun and competition, be warned, as these events grow in popularity, so do the knockoffs. So have fun, but be careful out there.

Shea Vaughn—Fitness Revolutionary

N2013_09_01_011FITNEIf you’re wondering what living a healthy lifestyle does for you, check out Shea Vaughn. At 72 years young, this entrepreneur, fitness expert, and grandmother is as active, passionate, and energetic as someone 30 years her junior. As a professionally trained dancer in her youth, Vaughn made the switch to the world of fitness and never looked back. In an ongoing effort to inspire her loyal following, she developed a fitness program called SheaNetics® that blends her years of experience and passion into a sensible, effective fitness program for everyone of all ages.

For Vaughn, the evolution into the world of fitness started with her love of dance. “At first it was dance and later as each new fitness program evolved, I would get certified as an instructor. While I was perhaps not living an earlier dream of mine to dance on Broadway, I was certainly absorbing a wealth of great choreography and enjoying the journey that would one day provide the building blocks for SheaNetics®,” said Vaughn.

What makes her program interesting is SheaNetics® is not only great for all ages, it is in my research, a complete body workout that leaves you invigorated. From strength to flexibility, to mind and body connection, it’s a fascinating integration of various methodologies.

“SheaNetics® is a doctor endorsed East meets West revolutionary wellness and exercise lifestyle practice which is supported by my five living principles of well-being which include – Commitment, Perseverance, Self-Control, Integrity and Love. These values are paired with an optimal collection of performance proven movements from yoga, pilates, tai chi, martial arts, ballet, and more,” said Vaughn.

Even while raising her three children, including her actor son Vince Vaughn, Shea always stayed dedicated to the health of her kids as well as her own health. “Although health and wellness was not as commonly talked about when I was raising my children, I still made sure they were involved in activities and sports. I also made healthy meals and tried to lead them on a healthy path by setting good examples by how I kept myself in shape.” She has continued her dedication to her health as is evident by her petite, yet strong frame.

In addition to commercial fitness, Shea has closely studied martial arts and Eastern philosophy. She believes well-being is the result of a healthy mind and body working as one. “Mind/body synchronicity is accomplished by embracing regular exercise along with a set of tenets for making better life decisions. This is the foundation for SheaNetics®—Five Living Principles of Well-Being.”

Vaughn loves the opportunity to reach a greater audience and to touch their hearts with messages that will help them to be healthier individuals thus becoming influential ambassadors of healthy living. “SheaNetics® is so much more than an exercise, it is a holistic lifestyle practice,” said Vaughn.

As someone who spent almost 30 years in the fitness industry, I’m inspired by Shea’s continued dedication to helping people discover and embrace a healthy lifestyle. “I love teaching and bringing the five principles to life with my students during class. They regularly tell me how uplifted they are following class and the meaningful encouragement they receive which enables them to make healthy life choices which become a natural part of their day-to-day life.”

At the core of fitness success, Vaughn believes it’s the decision to make it happen. “In order to make goals a reality, it is mental and emotional strength that allows one to stay committed and persevere through any difficulties encountered along the way. I firmly believe that the mind leads and the body follows.”

To learn more about SheaNetics® visit,



Exercise Caution—Staying Fit During Pregnancy

N2013_08_01_004FITNEWhen I was pregnant with my first child, many days were spent at Centennial Beach swimming laps. I believe my activity level laid the foundation for an easy delivery. Today, more than ever, exercise is encouraged for expectant mothers. Gone are the days when mothers-to-be sat idle waiting for the birth of their child. Today, women are staying active throughout their pregnancies and healthy babies are the by-product.

Seeing an expectant mother running a 5K or even marathon is no longer unusual. In fact, being fit while pregnant is encouraged to support a healthy baby and delivery.

“Expectant mothers no longer need to heed the advice of keeping their heart rate under 140 beats per minute,” says Kristen Horler, CEO and founder of Baby Boot Camp & Karna Fitness. “The ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines were updated in 2002 to eliminate this recommendation. Therefore, women are encouraged to instead focus on rate of perceived exertion as well as the talk test: If you are able to talk normally while exercising, your heart rate is at an acceptable level.”


Get Moving Momma

Being active during pregnancy is important due to the vast number of changes that occur in a woman’s body. If exercise classes aren’t your thing, or you don’t have the time, Horler encourages short walks. “You will feel better for having done something active, it will help with your digestion and general sense of well-being throughout your pregnancy. I recommend finding a walking buddy. Ask your partner, or a friend, to commit to walk with you,” said Horler.

If you weren’t active before pregnancy, it’s not to late. However, proceed with caution. “The ACOG recommends that women who were previously inactive, or those with medical or obstetric complications, should be evaluated by their physician before physical activity recommendations are made,” says Horler, mother of two. “So, if you have clearance from your doctor to begin a walking program or a fitness class, you can enjoy the many benefits that regular physical activity can provide.”


Safe Exercise Tips

  • During pregnancy, women need to pay extra attention to their food and water consumption. Keep healthy snacks readily available, stay hydrated and listen to your body. Your blood volume increases by 40 percent during pregnancy, so maintaining proper hydration can help with these changes, including maintaining a healthy level of amniotic fluid.
  • Some pregnant women may not feel well during exercise. Horler suggests its likely low blood sugar and eating a small snack should help. Two bites of a healthy bar or half a banana can often do the trick. 
  • If you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated so don’t let yourself get to this point. Dehydration during your third trimester may trigger uterine contractions and lead to preterm labor. Keep a bottle of water with you. If you have difficulty drinking plain water, try squeezing fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit into your water. Horler enjoys coconut water as another way to keep hydration in check. 
  • Your body and your baby know what it needs. Listen to what you are truly craving before devouring something that just looks or smells good. Slow down and enjoy each bite of food—you may be satisfied sooner than you think. 

Although exercising while pregnant may be easier to schedule, once baby arrives, your time is no longer your own. In order to keep up with your exercise after birth, it’s important to establish a routine. “An established routine is an essential part of adapting to being a new mom. Join a stroller-based fitness class or mommy-and-me yoga to stay active and meet other new moms,” says Horler. 

If you’d like information about a Baby Boot Camp in your area, visit

Need Motivation?—There’s an App for That


I’ve been exercising for more than 30 years. Back then, the only motivation I had was the Nike voice inside my head telling me to, “Just do it!” The idea of tracking walks or runs, and downloading new and interesting exercise programs, hadn’t yet been developed.

Today, the number of motivational tools and apps has exploded. Trying to find the perfect motivational tool can be dizzying. But if you find the right one, it can be the secret to sustaining a solid fitness routine.

However, what works for one may not necessarily be motivation for another. So, check out what some fitness pros are using and why they love it. In the world of apps and fitness gadgets, there is definitely something for everyone.


For me, I’m a diehard Nike+ user. I started using the wristband, which tracked miles, calories, pace and time. It was perfect. But I recently upgraded to the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS and love it. It’s incredibly easy to use. It gives me similar information, but the GPS helps save my route to use at a later date. The watch also includes history information, a stopwatch, and tells me my longest runs and accumulated miles. When I download it on my computer, my motivation comes in the form of personal congratulations by athletes, or simply the ability to see how I fare against other runners. This is a great tool for walkers as well.

Smartphone Apps

Sarah Briggs of Victor, New York, has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for the past four years with her favorite fit tool, the iPhone.

“I use my Run Coach app for my training plans, RunMeter to track my distance and routes, and Weight Watchers for my food intake. Between this and my music, my iphone rarely gets left behind!”

Fitness Enthusiast Axel Kussmann uses an app called Endomondo. It’s used on his Android. “The fact that I share my workouts on twitter ,as well as sometimes on my blog and Facebook, helps me stay consistent. It also links to something called Earndit, which gets me points for working out which I can spend on discounts for sports and clothing, or for charity donations. For me, it’s a great source of motivation,” said Kussmann.

Certified Trainer and Zumba Instructor Sara Jane Parker, uses the Polar FT40. “I like it because it has a nice looking watch with a detachable strap that I can wash. I can see how hard I am working out by checking my training zones.”

Something for Everyone

Here’s a breakdown of other popular motivational and tracking tools:
FitBit One: According to their website, “If you want to turn fitness into a lifestyle, the One™ is for you. For starters, it never rests. It tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed. Come nightfall, it measures your sleep cycle, which helps you learn how to sleep better. The One™ motivates you to reach your goals by bringing greater fitness into your life 24 hours a day.” Sounds like a great tool for all levels of fitness.

Garmin Forerunner 10: Similar to the Nike+ GPS Sportswatch. The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a GPS running watch that’s very simple to use. As you run, you can see how far and how fast you’ve gone. Though it’s not nearly as detailed with information as the Nike+, it’s a great way to get basic feedback on distance and pace.

Fitbug: A pocket-sized device combined with an online program to manage your nutrition, activity, and personal goals. Users receive personalized weekly goals, healthy eating targets and more. For those that struggle with staying consistent, it’s a great source of encouragement. Choose between a wireless Fitbug Air or USB-connected Fitbug Go.

Runners Rejoice—Naperville Marathon Debuts

N2013_06_01_002FITNEIf anyone told me 30 years ago that Naperville would be hosting a marathon, I would have never believed it. In a town of only 42,000 in the 80s, the idea of selling out 3,200 spots in a wink of an eye would have seemed ludicrous. But here we are, 30 years later, and the marathon’s a comin’. On registration day, 3,200 runners rushed to their computers and within 14 hours, it was sold out.

Planning Makes Perfect

“The 2013 Edward Hospital Marathon came to fruition through years of planning and bouncing ideas off one another,” said Bob Hackett, race director. “The running community in Naperville is as vibrant as you will find anywhere in the country.”

When the idea of the marathon was first presented to the city of Naperville, there was a lot of doubt. But according to Hackett, as city leaders listened, they began to see how an event like this could positively impact the community.

“Our original plan had to be tabled due to timing because the 2012 calendar had already been set and approved,” said Hackett. So the planning committee pulled together a new presentation for November 10, 2013.

“It was truly a collaborative effort, from the DuPage County Highway Department, The DuPage County Forest Preserve District, The Naperville Park District, The Will County Forest Preserve District, The Village of Bolingbrook, The Bolingbrook Park District all have worked together to make this happen,” said Hackett.

Running Through Naperville

The course will wind through the streets of Naperville and the paths of the Naperville Park District, The DuPage County Forest Preserves, and into Bolingbrook, where runners will be able to run on some great trails in the Bolingbrook Park District and the Will County Forest Preserve. From there, runners will make their way back north to Naperville and finish at North Central College.

The race will host both new and established runners, for either the half or full marathon. The event will also play a role in those looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

“The Naperville running community jumped on this very quickly and it was fun to watch,” said Hackett. However, it wasn’t just Naperville runners that filled the roster, runners from 30 states and three countries also found their spot for the inaugural Edward Hospital 2013 Marathon.

Marathon Benefits Downtown Merchants

In addition to the benefits runners will receive, Naperville merchants will also likely experience a spike in business from visiting runners and their families dining, shopping, and walking the streets of Naperville.

Kris Hartner of Naperville Running Company is looking forward to a Naperville marathon. “As a business owner, I look forward to the energy and foot traffic that will be generated on a November weekend. This is traditionally a slower time of year for downtown businesses and this should bring some additional excitement! It will be fun to see the neighborhoods of Naperville come out to support their friends and neighbors.”

Hackett encourages runners to utilize training programs offered by local running stores, training groups, or running clubs. “The secret to a successful race for runners is to make sure the training has been done. That means week in and week out, that as runners, you are out there getting the miles in.”

The Naperville Marathon is just another way our city is striving to keep it on the map as a vibrant, one-of-a-kind community.

Naperville Marathon
Race Expo: Edward Hospital Fitness Center
Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9

N2013_06_01_003FITNENaperville Running Company sold more than 1,200 Runners for Boston t-shirts in late April to raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. T-shirt sales, along with oher donations, helped raise more than $25,000. All proceeds will benefit One Fund Boston.