Lift Heavy Things (And Don’t Forget to Have Fun Along the Way)

by Hua Chin

An Ironman triathlon is not a joke.  It is one hundred and forty point six miles.  Yes, you read that correctly: 140.6 miles.  A 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride followed by a full marathon of 26.2 miles on foot.  People often think of it as the ultimate goal, the achievement of a lifetime in less than 17 hours.  It is possible, but people must be prepared.  It is a full-time commitment.  One that can take 20 or more hours a week to train for, and up to a year of daily workouts.

I decided to do one in 6 weeks.

Let’s retrace my steps, and my decision to do something so brash.

As I continue to mature into a still competitive athlete, I cannot lie, I have been bitten by the Ironman bug.  Something about getting as much strength and passion out of my body and mind really plays well to my psyche.  Why would one push themselves for up to 17 hours of work?  Why would someone endure endless blisters, long lonely training runs, and daily triple workouts?  Because of the finish line.  Because crossing that finish line knowing you put 100% of your soul into completing this seemingly impossible task is rewarding to me.

But it is not for everyone.

As an ex professional athlete, and someone who still can (sometimes) compete at the pointy end of the stick, the Ironman dream works for me.  But it doesn’t have to be your dream.  Unless you are winning races, qualifying for world championship events, or setting masters records – training should be fun.  An everyman athlete should use a training plan as an escape from their everyday life.  Working out is a lifestyle not a chore.  The moment it becomes a chore, you should reevaluate.

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Why We Teach Indoor Cycling at The Training Room

by Maren Kravitz


False advertising

By now we’ve all heard about “spinning classes” in which participants ride at cadences of 120–140 RPM’s with little or no resistance. Some of these classes even claim to offer a complete “total body” workout by including choreographed push-ups on the handle bars, as well as a bonus featuring bicep curls and tricep extensions with 3-to-5-pound weights – all while pedaling at supersonic speed. But keep your fingers crossed that your clip in shoes and pedals work.


While you struggle to keep up with the cadence and choreography of the instructor, you envision yourself with shapely toned legs while burning massive calories and dripping sweat. Hopefully, you’ve checked the spinning studio’s website FAQ page to confirm that these classes are indeed designed to shape and build muscle, without adding bulk. #winning


Is your indoor spinning bike pedaling you??

But unbeknownst to many participants, fast heart rates and dripping sweat does not necessarily correlate to increased caloric burn. The truth is: most typical indoor cycling bikes are fixed gear systems with weighted flywheels. The flywheels can weigh anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds. That smooth feeling when the pedals glide around with low resistance is actually inertia at work.


Those who ride indoor cycling bikes with extremely low resistance are essentially being taken for a ride. Even if your heart rate monitor shows an elevated heart rate, the “work” or watts being produced is very low, while the amount of wasted energy is very high. There is absolutely no correlation between calories burned and strength, muscular endurance or aerobic fitness.

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Practice Mindfulness to Elevate Your Workouts

by Kevin Duong


I recently had the privilege of visiting Plum Village, a monastery located near Bordeaux in southwest France. Considered to be Europe’s largest Buddhist monastery, Plum Village encourages visitors to experience the art of mindful communal living by offering retreats as short as one day or as long as three months. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, mindfulness can be thought of as paying attention to the present with intention, while letting go of judgment. Although this may seem like a simple concept, experiencing it over a 10-day visit to my brother (who is now a practicing Buddhist monk at the community) a few months ago quickly turned me into a believer.


So, you might be wondering, how does mindfulness relate to exercise? When working out, I emphasize being present. I listen to my body. I focus on my technique. Before moving on to the next progression, I concentrate on making my form pristine to avoid hurting myself. Yet, in the process, I don’t judge if I fall short; rather, I appreciate the good my training does for my body and mind. Overall, for me, this thought process reduces stress – a key component of a healthy lifestyle – while fortifying my body.  Most importantly, being mindful allows me to recognize when by body needs recovery and when it is ready to work hard, and as a result, optimize my training.


I now try to take this same approach to every aspect of my life. I carefully consider what I eat, focus on tasting my food, and enjoy the experience. I prepare myself for sleep, minimize surrounding distractions like my phone, and focus on achieving deeper, sounder rest.

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Consistency Is Key – Just Ask Bruce Lee

by Derek Christeler


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

-Bruce Lee


This is a lesson for all facets of your life; consistency is the key to any goal.  There have been many times I’ve seen this as a personal trainer.  People often use an upcoming event, a new year, or the summer season as motivation to try and get as fit as possible- often returning to unhealthy or sedentary habits once the excitement fades.  Unfortunately these folks jump right into an exercise and nutrition plan that would bury a Greek god.  Soon after they start the program from hell, they end up getting burnt out, injured, and/or binge eating a pint of ice cream at midnight due to calorie restriction.  This is the approach of practicing 10,000 kicks once- leading to an unhealthy, cyclical relationship with exercise and/or food by constantly starting and stopping a new program, plan, cleanse or diet.  Being short sighted in your overall wellness can limit or even diminish your quality of life.


The alternative option is to set a major goal with the understanding that it will take effort and it won’t happen overnight.  This is the approach of practicing one kick 10,000 times.  In order to have success, consistency is the name of the game.  It’s better to creep up on your goal without a deadline than try to knock it over the head by going hard for two weeks and then being upset that nothing happened even though you gave it your all.

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The 4 Pillars of Health

by Jonathan Carroll


How can I get more sleep? How I can eat better? How can I get booty like yours? These are questions I get all the time.

Since my job is really about helping people improve their overall heath and quality of life, I frequently get asked, “How can I improve my _________?” Let’s be clear – there is tremendous variety to the way people fill in this Mad Lib. And, yet, I have found that most questions fall into what I affectionately call “The 4 Pillars of Health”: Sleep, Stress Management, Exercise and Nutrition.

The “4 Pillars” started as a simple, easy-to-follow guideline I provided to the people I coach at The Training Room. Over the past several years, it’s taken on a life of its own! While I am in the process of putting together an entire book that summarizes my complete recommendations in these four areas, I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Hopefully, my suggestions will give you a basic framework for thinking about your habits and goals – either way, I’d love your feedback.

I know this is an ask. As George Costanza used to say, “I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy.” I get it. I’m guilty too … but we need to stop priding ourselves on how busy we are – it’s not the first adjective any of us wants used to describe us. A few years ago, I was (un)fortunate enough to have thyroid problems and chronic plantar fasciitis which left me waking up in pain on a daily basis. While I can’t say this was the best of times, it was transformative for me. It’s when I decided that I needed to make some major changes to my life and prioritize my well-being. I know it’s hard. But, I promise you, if you do the same, it may be one of then best decisions you ever make (other than doing another couple deadlifts to get glutes like mine).

Pillar 1: Sleep

I used to stay up late almost every night. I convinced myself that I was a “night” person – that the wee hours were my “creative” time and were precious. While I would routinely come up with four or five ideas a night (all brilliant, thank you … good thing I love being a trainer), I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep after working 8-12 hour days. Even for super humans (or as I like to call them, the Irish), it takes a toll. Sleep is when your body and mind repair themselves. It’s when the junk gets filtered out and things get reset. Sleep lets you think more clearly and be at your best. And, trust me, since your brain and your body love deep sleep, you should too!

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6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Train with Kettlebells

by Jenny Cunha


I became a SFG kettlebell instructor in order to challenge myself and fine-tune my abilities.  Going through the training and certification process not only gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches, but made me focus on the basics in order to push my own endurance and strength.  I’m so glad I embraced the challenge, and I’ve got six good reasons why you should train with kettlebells too.


#1 – Skill Acquisition Learning and practicing a new skill, whatever it may be, improves confidence and cognitive function- both of which have a positive impact on your health and well-being. You can increase your focus and involve your brain in your workouts by using a tool that requires a higher-level of technical skill and understanding – the kettlebell.

#2 – Versatility The kettlebell may be the most versatile, stand-alone training tool, period.   Inline with the specific goals, structure and timing of your program, the kettlebell can be used to focus on mobility, strength, power or conditioning. A well-rounded training program starts with good movement at its foundation. From there, you can progress in a logical sequence, building strength and then power. The kettlebell can be used every step of the way.

#3 – The Sweat Factor It’s no secret that a good sweat can be satisfying. Physical activity has long been shown to have incredible health benefits, including the ability to lift your mood. Research has even proven that exercise is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Regardless of whether exercise actually releases endorphins (jury’s out on that, believe it or not), stimulates norepinephrine production to help combat stress, or simply enhances communication between your body’s physiological systems, it’s undeniable that it’s good for your body and your mind.

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10 Takeaways From My 10 Years in Fitness

by Tyler Cote


That’s right, I’ve now been in the fitness industry for 10 years!  Don’t ask me where the time has gone — all I can tell you is that when you love what you do, it never feels like work. Today, as I look back, I’d like to share with you 10 things I’ve learned over this period of my life:


1) Make fitness a lifestyle

I assess nearly everyone who starts at The Training Room and have found that most voice similar goals: “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get stronger”, and sometimes both. Rather than jumping straight into an exercise, I follow-up with a series of questions:

A.) What is normal day of eating like for you?

B.) What is a normal night of sleeping?

C.) Based on a 1-10 scale, how stressed are you on average?

Your answers to these questions play a major role in achieving your goals. You can exercise as much as you like, but if you don’t have a strong handle on your nutrition, sleep and stress, none of it matters. Creating good habits and making a life commitment to them will be the game changer. If you’re willing to do this, I promise you that what follows will be easier.


2) Build the foundation

When I think about why the TR has been successful over the years, I accredit it to our ability to form a strong foundation for our clients. Mainstream media constantly advertises the next best exercise or quickest way to burn fat. In reality, all they’re doing is pushing you farther away from where you want to be.

Your focus should be learning how to do exercise basics really well. Learn how to breath correctly, how to brace your core, and how to feel when your glutes are activated. These practices may seem slight, but it is this kind of investment that forms the most stable foundation for you to build upon as you increase your strength and skill over time.

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What Is “Good” Training?

by Alex Tanskey


I often feel like I’m a salmon.  Not in a bad way.  More in a “swimming against the tide of outdated fitness information” way.

But sometimes, that tide is just too strong.

Whether it’s someone’s preconceptions of training, or previous experiences with other trainers/coaches, people are often surprised when they go through one of my sessions or classes. There’s this idea that in order for training to be “good” it must be 1) hard, 2) intense, 3) bodybuilding style, and/or 4) cardio based. And really, it doesn’t need to be any of those four.


So let’s start with what “good training” is not:

  1. Good training isn’t how high you can get your heart rate.
  2. Good training isn’t how much you sweat, how hard you breathe, or how sore you get.
  3. Good training doesn’t involve punishing yourself, for whatever reason.

Those thoughts are exactly why so many people – trainers included – get burned out so quickly. After all, most personal trainers don’t last beyond 1-3 years, and the drop-off in gym attendance by March illustrates the fleeting nature of New Year’s Resolutions.

So what makes for good training?  Here are three things it should encompass:


The Many Benefits of TRAC

by Heidi Shalek

Let’s face it – we all want to feel strong, happy, healthy and pain-free.  Most of us wouldn’t mind having a rockin’ body and friends who care about us either.  One of the main reasons we hit the gym is to obtain some, if not all, of these things.  So why does the traditional gym experience fall short for so many?  One potential answer: because people aren’t getting these things.  If they were, they would make it a priority to go, right? Yet, no matter what, on January 1st, gyms across the country will be flooded with a fresh batch of healthy hopefuls who are looking (and likely not for the first time) for these elusive gym benefits in the same old places.

If you’ve been to The Training Room, hopefully you know that not all exercise is created equal.  You also know that going to the gym doesn’t have to be a solitary grind filled with pain, anxiety, and self-doubt (I’m willing to bet, if you’ve ever wandered a gym floor in search of an open elliptical machine or piece of equipment you actually know how to use, you know what I’m talking about.)

There’s good news. I can say with confidence that every single coach at the TR is dedicated to client education, building our fitness community, and providing a fun, friendly, and welcoming environment. We believe in setting realistic goals and achieving them through safe, appropriately challenging, progressive workouts. By focusing on increasing what you can do well and safely, we can gradually help you build strength and improve the quality of your movement (Why should you care about the quality of your movements? Another simple answer: so you don’t jack yourself up).

Enter TRAC. Everyone who begins our TRAC program must complete a functional movement screen and demonstrate a solid grasp of the fundamentals of lifting weights and swinging bells (We recruit our coaches from a land where kettlebell swings are as fundamental as tooth brushing … just in case you ever wondered where Alex Tanskey came from). Once you’re in, your TRAC group will inevitably develop its own unique dynamic. Critically, it is that very group dynamic that can often provide the missing link in your quest for health and wellness.

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5 Ways to Get More from Your Training

by Eirinn Carroll

Treat Each Movement with Care– Heavy lifting is not the only time to slow down, set up, and move with intention. Each movement in your workout has a purpose and should be treated as such.
Trust the Process– Your workout, or your overall training regimen is not a race to the finish. Doing the same things often, perfecting and improving upon them is the best approach. Take your time learning new movements and progressing forward, and while you’re at it, enjoy the journey!
Do Your Homework– If your coach recommends something to do on your own, whatever it is, do it.
Fuel and Refuel Based on Your Goals – Often what you do outside the gym is just as, if not more, important than what you do in the gym. Whether your goals are related to general health, getting stronger, sleeping better, or losing weight, the food you eat plays a big role in getting you there. The precision nutrition blog ( has great info on this, or you can set up a time to meet with our own Alex Tanskey for a more individualized approach.
Sleep More, Stress Less– You’ve prioritized your workouts into your weekly routine, which is great. Now let’s prioritize winding down, relaxing, and getting good quality sleep – on a regular basis. This will help you recover faster and put you in a better state for your next workout.

When Maren met Marci

by Maren Kravitz

Marci Karplus began personal training at The Training Room in March 2011. Since then, Marci has completed 337 personal training sessions. With the exception of summer travel, a few injuries and life’s minor twists and turns, Marci has remained committed to training twice a week for the past five years.

Beyond her commitment, what makes Marci’s story unique is her late arrival into the world of fitness. Marci picked up running at the age of 58, after a news program mentioned that Jill Biden was running five miles a day. “I thought well heck, maybe I can do that,” Marci said. “Nothing like having a role model.”

Marci got hooked on the exhilarating feeling she got from running. Cautiously increasing her mileage, Marci worked up to four weekly runs – ranging from three to ten miles at a time. Marci loved it. “Running at a slow pace allowed me time to get lost in my thoughts, while enjoying the scenery around me,” said Marci.


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Within the first year of taking up running, Marci began to get sidelined by aches and pains in her knees. Determined to get stronger and continue her running, Marci began training at the TR and enlisted the help of physical therapists.

Marci was diligent, completing her physical therapy exercises and making sure she took an appropriate amount of time off running to rest her knees. Unfortunately, Marci continued to feel the same knee pain each time she returned to running after a break. Unbeknownst to Marci, a foot surgery dating back 25 years was the cause of her knee pain and eventual end to her running career.

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Client Spotlight: Ray W.

by Rich Malloy

Ray Weaver came to The Training Room in March of 2015 with two specific goals – to lose weight and manage his back pain.  At the start of his training with me, Ray weighed 245 lbs. With a true belief that a healthy lifestyle will lead to success, Ray stayed the course, and is now 195 lbs while living pain free.  Not only is Ray’s story inspiring, but it can remind us all that real change is possible through hard work, dedication and positivity.

Finding your course correction
The first step toward success in the gym is your personal mindset.  Ray understood that a healthy lifestyle did not have to be all sacrifice and no fun. Wishing for a quick fix or directing too much attention to the past could have easily sidelined Ray’s future goals. As a team we remained focused on the positive while embracing the challenges that lie ahead. Results are not a given, they are earned.

Focus on progress not perfection
If you’re dreading your gym time because it’s challenging, uncomfortable or boring, you may find it hard to stay committed to your goals. With a positive mindset, Ray committed to a training program two times a week at the TR in addition to improving his eating habits.  In the gym, Ray followed a simple, straightforward weight loss program including total body strength work, core work, and metabolic circuits.

Moving more often and becoming stronger not only helped Ray meet his weight loss goals, but also helped eliminate his back pain.  Like most new clients at the TR, Ray had a specific goal when he walked in, and it is my job as his coach to keep these goals at the forefront of his training program while creating a safe, fun and effective workout.  Keeping the sessions focused on what he could do, rather than what he could not do, helped Ray maintain a positive mindset and dedication to his training plan.

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Community Co-op: Local Health & Wellness Businesses Collaborate

Join The Training Room, Runfellow, Oat Shop Boston, Neon Bandits and Somerville Local First on Saturday, September 24th for the Community Co-op Series: Health & Wellness Edition.  Our mission is to bring small businesses together to strengthen the local economy through collaboration.  Proceeds go directly to Somerville Local First, and the funds are used throughout the year to support SLF members as they work to grow their local brands.

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How can you help support all things local in Somerville?  Sign up to participate in this awesome event that’s not only good for your health, but good for the local economy!  Run 2 miles, bike 10 miles (indoor), and run 1 more mile to the finish!

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Sign up online via The Training Room website by selecting the September 24th date on the calendar and clicking on your preferred time slot.  Registration for this event is FREE, with donations (suggested, $30) accepted at the event.  Oat Shop Boston will be on hand for post-workout fuel, and Neon Bandits will serving up socks.  That’s right, action-lifestyle socks.  What are you waiting for?

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Dear Training Room:

When we receive a letter like this from one of our clients, it reminds us what a great job we have as coaches, and how fortunate we are to work in the fitness and wellness industry.  Helping people learn how to move well and get stronger so they can enjoy life is quite simply, the best thing ever. 



July 26, 2016


To: Training Room


I found out about the TR through a friend. One day I ran into him at work and complimented on how great he looked. He then started to tell me about TR and kettlebell training. He had hurt his back as well and we pretty much experienced the same pain. We both were on the same page how Meds, PT or even a chiropractor wasn’t helping. Seeing how he looked and felt I decided to look into the TR. I asked who he recommended and he told me about a kid, Kyle. November of 2016 I called and made an appointment with Kyle. I had no idea what to expect which I am sure Kyle knew since I showed up in jeans and a sweatshirt for the assessment. Before I started I could hardly walk or stand without having pain. I was miserable every day. I am a very active person and just turned 50 and this injury had stopped me from most activities I enjoyed. At first when I started I thought, “Is this going to help at all?”. The exercises were something I never did and seemed very weird to me. But within the first month I started to feel better and was able to do things I couldn’t do before.

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Two Cues to Instantly Improve Your Push Up

by Rob Colameta


Whether you’re personal training, in TRAC class, circuit training, or even at outdoor sports conditioning, you’re guaranteed to run into the pushup. I’ve seen a lot of different people do the pushup and have found myself using the same two cues to help people get the most out of this popular and really effective strength exercise.

#1 Reach

Most people finish their pushups like this:


In reality, that’s not too bad. Note that his hips are in-line with his shoulders, he’s not arching his back, and it looks like he’s holding a solid plank at the top. However, he’s missing out on some serious shoulder benefits by not reaching his hands through the ground.

If he thinks about “reaching” at the top of the pushup, you’ll see his shoulder blades come around to the sides of his torso, like so:


It’s a subtle change but very easy to correct and guarantees you the awesome shoulder benefits that come along with doing the pushup correctly.

#2: Use Your Whole Body

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Client Spotlight: Sara J.

By Alex Tanskey | Sara’s own comments in bold
There are people that see fitness as a hobby.  There are others that see it as part of their lifestyle.  For client Sara J, it’s definitely the latter. [Probably not OK to use the word “compulsion” in a client spotlight? But seriously, if anyone had said that about me two years ago, I would have thought they were talking about someone else – and there are so many Sara Js in the world, that could’ve been true… Things have sure changed!]
Few people have seen such drastic changes as Sara since she started in November 2014.  Suffering from back and hip pain, her goals were to lose weight, get stronger, and move better.  But having scored a 6 on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) – with a score of 14 being optimal – she understood it wouldn’t be a quick fix. [At the time, I only vaguely knew how much work there was to be done. I knew I wanted to “feel better” but I didn’t fully grasp how much better I would eventually feel, or how long it would take! And thanks, Alex, for gently keeping me in the dark about that for awhile, because if I had known in the beginning, I might have run away – and you know I don’t run 😉 But it’s been so completely worth it]

Client Spotlight: Leiter K.

By Chris Mullins


Leiter began training with me back in January 2015 to incorporate strength training into his running routine. He had gone through physical therapy to rehab a calf injury sustained while running back in August of 2014, but was still experiencing some lingering effects. His initial assessment revealed some common imbalances, as well as high training volume. Put these two elements together–repeated overload on a compromised foundation–and it’s not surprising that Leiter’s body started to break down. So the approach was simple:

  1. Address imbalances
  2. Reduce training volume (# of days and total weekly running mileage)

However, as always the approach may be simple but the implementation is rarely easy. Fortunately, Leiter is a fantastic client with an aptitude toward structure and routine. Without further ado, here is Leiter’s story.

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Dear New York Times: Please Just Stop

If you didn’t catch coach Alex’s blog last week… don’t worry, it’s not too late for an interesting rant read. 🙂 Please enjoy:


I’d like to thank The New York Times for contributing to the malaise and hopelessness currently coupled with obesity.

Why?  Because last Monday the Times published After The Biggest Loser, Their Bodies Fought to Regain the Weight.  A depressing account of what happens to contestants after they leave the show, it is. But good journalism? It is not.

Sadly, this newest article adds to the disagreeable and outdated health advice from the Times, or those found in an Op-Ed.  And full disclosure, I’m far from impartial as The Biggest Loser is among my most hated shows on television. Yet I’m also a religious watcher of The Bachelor, so hey, nobody’s perfect.

I don’t believe the Times had malicious intent, nor were they purposely trying to paint sustained weight loss as some Sisyphean task.  Instead, my main gripe was that they didn’t add anything to the conversation and they failed to propose any solutions.  We’ve known from study after study that losing weight is the “easy” part, maintaining is the hardest.  And the only answers they did provide were bariatric surgery or accepting hunger as the new normal.

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Client Spotlight: Whitney Y.

Whitney’s struggle with anxiety and depression let her to pursue exercise as a way to improve her mental health.  We’re so grateful that she took the time to answer a few questions and share her story…


What initially brought you into the The Training Room?

Mental health. Like many people, I have anxiety and depression and last June, I decided to try exercising as a way of managing. I felt anxious about joining a large gym and knew I needed one-on-one attention. I sent an email to the TR explaining my situation and saying that I desperately needed help. I put myself out there and within hours received a response from Heidi who scheduled me for a fitness assessment and set me up with personal training. She suggested I start with Kyle, and almost a year later, I feel better than ever! Now, exercise is a way of life – my friends even jokingly call me Ms. Fitness, which is a far cry from the person who ran off a treadmill a few years ago shouting “I will never set foot in a gym again!”

What has been your favorite part about your training?

I love the education I’ve received since joining the TR. Each trainer spends time explaining what we are doing and why, taking the time to increase my knowledge about fitness, exercise, and movements. I bring out of town friends to the TR at times and I love that the trainers are consistent with teaching proper form and educating guests. They show their passion and knowledge and in turn, it is passed down to their clients. That, my friends, is my favorite part!

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Client Spotlight: Paloma D.

It is our dedicated, consistent and hard-working clients that remind us every day of the power of exercise, setting goals, and accomplishing them.  We asked one of our frequent class-goers, Paloma D, a few questions about her experience at the TR and what has contributed most to her success.
When did you begin training at the TR and what brought you through the door for the first time? 
I began training about a year and three months ago, in February 2014. A combination of things brought me through the door for the first time. My friend Ellen had suggested we try out TR since it is so close to both of us. Some time went by after that suggestion and what eventually actually brought me through the door was the impending doom of wearing a fancy white dress in front of all my friends and family, just a few months away at the time. Once I had the motivation it was pretty easy to get into the habit of going since I live so close to TR1 (I can be out my door and on the bike in like three minutes if I’m in a hurry.)

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