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Exercise and winter blues


I have been inconsistent for the last three months. In November I was preparing for a trip, which became a good excuse for me to skip the gym. There was always a project that had to be completed and my usual trick of taking the train that gets me to the gym before it gets me home did not work!

The trip was wonderful and I remained active throughout the ten days of my stay in a different city. But I did not go to the gym. I didn’t even go to the gym in December when I was back in New York. A few new projects came up and kept me away from my fitness routine. While I am not the type of person who gets involved with the holiday frenzy, the prospect of Christmas and the idea that during the break I would have plenty of opportunities to resume my training were the perfect excuse for missing even more work outs in December.

The rest will sound a little bit like a weather forecast. The blizzard was impressive and completely inconvenient. The trains were not running. I lost my TV, phone, and Internet connections for three days, and, in reality, I had a few miserable days stuck at home. Even worse, my break from work was over, the illusion that I would be working out like mad for two weeks completely evaporated.

Fast forward to the last week of January: Here we are!  It is freezing cold and everything has become too heavy. The boots, the overcoat, the gym bag are all weighing me down. Yet, the desire to work out is back with me… along with a few more minutes of daylight at the end of my workday. What a delight! I challenged myself with a difficult workout during the weekend and was overwhelmed with a sense of satisfaction when my routine was over.  In fact, I cannot wait to hit the gym again today. Looking back, I cannot comprehend how I was able to bare these last three months without a consistent fitness routine.


(Post by Thomai Serdari)


Training for basketball

Do you dream of becoming the next NBA star? How about getting better at basketball and helping your team win? Do you like the sense of accomplishment when your team wins? 

There is a way to improve your game and it does not involve watching  games on TV for hours. The safest way to victory is to train daily. You need to get into plyometrics. This means increase your balance through complicated footwork drills. 

If you incorporate plyometrics in your training you will be able to produce fast, powerful movements. Plyometrics is a great form of exercise known to improve the functions of the nervous system, which generally improves performance in sports.




(Post by Thomai Serdari)




Motion Starvation


I do find this video motivational and this is why I am posting it here. A couple of thoughts crossed my mind after watching it.

Ken, who is presenting this short speech on behalf of, is correct in his statement that we are not starved for food any longer but rather for motion. The problem is that we have learned to recognize signals of hunger (or starvation) that come from our stomach and we have also found the way to immediately satisfy them. Food provides instant gratification. It satisfies both our stomach (and its physical signs of hunger) and our brain (signaling we are full).

On the other hand, a body that is starved for motion does not warn us the same way. The warnings are there but they are cumulative: we gain weight, we cannot fit in our clothes, we lose flexibility, we cannot catch up our breath, and our joints become stiffer among other things. The worst sign of all: we look flabby and lifeless. Who wants that?

What makes it difficult for us to correct this situation, certainly more difficult than satisfying our hunger, is that even though moving is good for us it does not feel good instantly. In fact, it may feel pretty awful for those who are totally out of shape. As a result, we don’t feel the instant gratification we get from feeding ourselves when we are working out. Gratification comes but it is a long-term outcome and not an immediate result. As such, it requires a mental commitment, which is much more difficult than an emotional commitment (which leads people to food).

What is instantly gratifying however is to know that one is in control. Keep that thought in mind next time you have to convince yourself to work out. Have fun!



(Post by Thomai Serdari. Email us at:

Jessica Biel and physical training


Even as a teenager on the TV series Seventh Heaven, Jessica Biel was in top form. Among her siblings, she exuded a sporty personality. In the series, Jessica loved baseball and running. She was outgoing and very popular in school.


Real life Jessica Biel seems to be equally interested in sports. She loves working out and she is an expert skier. What is striking about her, besides her sculpted and healthy-looking physique, is her attitude and confidence. Jessica Biel looks like a person who knows what she wants from life and she goes after it. Her career in Hollywood is evidence of what a person can achieve with determination, planning and perseverance.


 I have attached here two videos. One is an interview with Jessica Biel, during which she explains how she can sustain a four-hour workout and still find it fun. That is truly inspiring even if not feasible for most of us, mere mortals.


The second video is a behind the scenes exploration on how actors train before filming action movies. Both videos are entertaining and motivating. I hope you like them.


(Post by Thomai Serdari. Email us at:



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

The language of physical training

        While I mainly work out on my own, there was a time when I decided to hire a trainer to learn how to exercise properly with free weights. Before agreeing on our partnership (because it is a partnership), what I thought I would get out of it was skills in proper form when training, since this is so important. In addition, I was hoping to learn a repertory of exercises to rely on when I work out on my own. Even though this was accomplished, I knew by the time our partnership came to an end that having a repertory is not enough by itself. One needs to know how the muscles work and how to challenge them on a regular basis with new movements and a variety of weights. I would like to return to this discussion some other time. For now it suffices to say that what I was expecting to gain by hiring a trainer was only a small percentage of the real value a good trainer brings to the table.

        Lisa, my trainer at Equinox at the time, works as a freelancer now, which is why we stopped working out together. My exercise time is limited to the time I spend at the gym and my schedule does not allow for additional training time with Lisa, which I now consider a luxury. Not that I ever took her for granted. The trainer-client relationship is already difficult because a trainer is a service provider. The service, which is of course physical training instruction, is measurable only up to a certain point. At least 50% of it has to do with the chemistry between the two parties and mainly with the importance the client places on the relationship. For many people this ends up being very complicated because they think that since they pay they are entitled to results for which, alas, they are mainly responsible. No matter how many routines the trainer develops, if the client does not pay attention and if she does not give it all her energy and focus, results will be very slow to materialize.

        My relationship with Lisa was wonderful. If she is reading this entry now I hope she agrees. Admittedly, we had a slow start because when I begin a project I want to know what to expect, what is the overall concept, what are the goals, and what is the strategy to achieve them. I like having the “big picture” first and then break it down to measurable and easy to accomplish tasks. I know that other people prefer taking it minute by minute because the “big picture” is something they cannot fathom. Be that as it may, I felt particularly challenged through my workouts with Lisa and eternally grateful to her for having pushed me to my limits. I felt the same gratitude twice a week and every time we trained together. I particularly felt it when I received a holiday card from her, six months into our partnership, in which she praised me for certain character traits I posses but also motivated me in a most personal way to keep it up.

        You may be wondering what is so special about that. Well, for those who know me it is noticeable that I don’t talk much and certainly not about personal matters, certainly not about myself. During a conversation, I am much more interested in finding out about the other person. One question that comes up therefore is how did Lisa know so much about me? The other issue to consider is that she really worked me very, very hard and even though we were doing weight training my heart rate was so high that I regularly felt out of breath and not able to keep up with any sort of lengthy conversation. This is when I realized that exercise is a form of language and that the way we perform it reveals a lot about our personality and our point of view. I also realized that Lisa was a keen observer of her clients as any good trainer should be and fluent in the language of exercise. I benefited tremendously from this relationship both on a technical level in perfecting my routine and an emotional one in connecting with my own body and challenging myself through my own self-discovery.

Post by Thomai Serdari 

Welcome to Work Out – Work Up Inc.








Work Out – Work Up Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building confidence in teens by subsidizing their gym memberships.


Our goal is to help teens who cannot afford a gym membership receive a gym subsidy.

We aim at using regular exercise to teach young people about setting goals, focusing, and succeeding in life.

We aim at seeing them healthy, improving their grades in school, graduating from high school, and getting into college.



Our vision is to turn young people’s lives around through regular physical exercise.