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Bob Harper’s Push-Ups

We all know that the single most effective exercise that can be performed anywhere is the push-up. The benefits that derive from this exercise are numerous and include stronger arms and chest, tight abs, and balance increase to name just a few.

I am posting a video in which Bob Harper, famous trainer who has become a household name thanks to popular TV series "Biggest Looser," explains how to perform a push-up correctly.



(Post by Thomai Serdari)

Group Fitness continued

As I am researching group fitness in New York City, I realize that classes change depending not only on the gym name and location or the availability of fitness instructors but also because of trends in fitness and change of seasons.

Seasonal classes are usually based on a variation of a fitness routine that the instructor has developed previously. The routine is tweaked to incorporate new movements that work a particular group of muscles, such as the glutes–muscles that get everyone's attention in the summer season.

The advantage of trying several "seasonal" classes is that you add variety to your workout. This beats both boredom and fitness plateaus, a stage that everyone would like to avoid. Check your gym's calendar for new classes that appear as the weather seems to be improving. Without thinking too much about it, give it a try. If the class ends up not to your liking, move on to something else.


(Post by Thomai Serdari)

Partners and Mentors

        My visit to the gym today reminded me of the reason why I believe our organization, Work Out Work Up Inc., is doing important work.

What is our mission? We want to find teenagers who are attending school in New York City and who would like to go to the gym to exercise but do not have the means to do so. We will try our best to match them (in terms of geography) to a gym that is near their school and that will accept them as members during after-school hours and approximately from 2 pm to 4 pm. We are also enlisting help from fitness professionals who will guide and motivate the students to work out correctly, safely, and efficiently.

Who are we? We are a team of six professionals, each one with a different career, different trajectory in life, and different daily routine. We all believe in helping others to be their best and we are all committed to making this program succeed. We see ourselves as facilitators in bringing together those who need to exercise with those who can provide the space and equipment for exercise. We are working on developing programs that will teach students the benefits of physical training both in terms of fitness, health, and well being but also in terms of developing one’s own character and confidence.

Our goal is to see these students graduating from high school healthy and full of ambition to tackle life either pursuing academics in college or finding a suitable profession where they can be successful.

        What triggered this train of thought today? As soon as I walked into my gym I saw Kelli, another trainer at Equinox, who has also been my partner (in addition to Lisa about whom I wrote yesterday). Kelli studied modern dance at UCLA and moved to New York City only a couple of years ago. She is full of energy and good humor. She radiates positive energy and taught me how to use the treadmill correctly since I am not a runner. It is thanks to her that I discovered that I could make this otherwise straightforward piece of equipment work for me. Moments later, I met Peter on the second floor. Peter was trained as a massage therapist at the Swedish Institute in New York and uses a holistic approach to teaching individuals how to train correctly for their body type. In addition, he has magic fingers that find everyone’s painful spot and treat it instantly. I don’t know how he does it, I truly believe it is magic. Peter’s energy and healing power gave me many a boost when I needed one, a few times actually during the last year and a half.

        While Lisa, Kelli, and Peter are all trainers at my gym I have a special relationship with each one of them. They are my partners and they are my mentors in teaching me how to maintain my fitness and health.

        Work Out Work Up is an organization with a similar ambition. We hope to be able to provide New York teenagers with the partners they need to learn something new about fitness. And we hope to provide them with a vast network of mentors who will also guide them in discovering themselves and their own abilities.

Post by Thomai Serdari

Physical Exercise as a Tool for Building Confidence and Enhancing Health in Teens: How it all started

Have you ever given any thought to what pulls you through when you are stressed out or when you are facing difficulties in life? It’s your inner strength undoubtedly and your ability to focus. But where do you get these? How do you achieve them? For some people it’s a chat with a friend and loved one that clears the picture, for others meditation, introspection, or a walk in the park.

Meditation, walk, chat: what do they have in common? Most would point to the fact that they allow us to reconnect mentally, emotionally, and spiritually with our values, needs, and desires. But if examined carefully, all three have one trait in common. They begin with us, with our body, and our physical being. It is our breathing primarily that allows us to stop and have a chat. It is the power of our legs that carries us through our neighborhood or nature and allows us to focus on our own pace. It is our physical connection to our own being that allows meditation to takes place.

We tend to forget the most fundamental idea of all: our health and well being starts with our body. Its physicality is what carries us through life and its physical state affects how we feel. At best, we feel healthy, powerful, confident and ready to conquer the world. At worst, we feel powerless, sluggish, tired and insecure.

I had not given it much thought either. Even though I have made a conscious decision to never take anything for granted in life, I tend to forget and I do take things for granted. Except, one day last April, I realized that the one constant thing in my life (the one that pulled me through double duty of full-time school and full-time work, through multiple jobs at one time, through disappointments, aches, and ailments) is daily exercise at the gym.

Was I not lucky? There I was, on the treadmill, pushing a 15% incline and hiking away, completely focused on regulating my breathing to make it to what I had set as my finish line. And then I realized that what has kept me coming back to the gym on an almost daily schedule is not so much the fact that I can control a healthy weight (which in itself is a great gift) but that exercise at such level of intensity and dedication does wonders for my whole being. The high degree of concentration and the intensity of physical exertion flush away all thoughts, worries, and stress factors while also forcing me to listen to my body and focus on how it feels. When that connection takes place, when I can focus exclusively on how my body feels, the physical activity empowers mental and emotional release that generates a whole new flow of ideas. In fact, this is the process I have used repeatedly to solve problems and move forward.

I can to do this because I am privileged to be able to afford a gym membership and allow myself to work out throughout the year in New York City, a place known for its harsh winters.  I can do it because I am old enough to be allowed in a gym. My life has enough stability to allow me to recognize the benefits of exercise.

This is the exception, however, and not the rule. According to New York Government statistics over half of the adults in New York State and one in every four teenagers are overweight or obese. This represents a huge number of teenagers, most of whom from underprivileged backgrounds whose families do not have the means to send them to the gym for any form of physical exercise.

One in every four teenagers in New York State are overweight or obese. One in every four teenagers in New York State do not have access to exercising facilities. One if every four teenagers in New York State do not know the benefits of working out, benefits that extend beyond a healthy body. These teenagers do not know how to focus, how to listen to their bodies, how to stop consuming and start creating their best self. They do not know how to achieve goals or confidence.

I decided it was time to act and do something to help teenagers become healthy and gain confidence in life. Since last April, my efforts materialized in the formation of a nonprofit, incorporated in the state of New York, and dedicated to soliciting funds and collaborating with gyms in the region in order to provide gym subsidies to teenagers of underprivileged backgrounds. “Gym Memberships for Teens Inc.” promises to attack the problem of excessive weight and obesity among teens and to help them learn, through regular exercise, how to set and achieve goals in life.