PFTL News February 2018


You’ve undoubtedly heard the standard gym myth that training for size or strength requires using heavy weights for just a few reps, while training to improve muscle definition requires using lighter weights for a high number of repetitions. While there is some degree of truth to these claims, it is important to understand that the number of reps you do for each exercise has a significant influence on the results you get from your workout program.

Today, many popular programs encourage participants to do high numbers of reps for ballistic exercises, such as barbell cleans or jumps. Unfortunately, doing too many reps may actually cause injury and limit your ability to train. To make sure you’re maximizing the efficiency of your time in the gym, here are seven things to consider when determining how many repetitions you should do based on your personal fitness goals.

  1. A repetition is a single, individual action of the muscles responsible for creating movement at a joint or series of joints. Each repetition involves three specific phases of muscle action: lengthening, a momentary pause and shortening.
  2. Regardless of your specific fitness goals, the number of repetitions you do is not nearly as important as whether those repetitions are performed to a moment of muscular fatigue. Achieving fatigue in a muscle means that it is not capable of performing one more rep and ensures that all of the muscle fibersresponsible for moving that muscle have been engaged. If your goal is to improve definition and you feel capable of performing a few more reps at the end of a given set, you have not fatigued all of the type II fibers that are responsible for creating definition. This means you have wasted your time because you will not be training in the most efficient manner possible for your goal.
  3. In general, the number of reps you do for an exercise is inversely related to the amount of weight you use. As the amount of weight goes up, the number of repetitions you are able to perform decreases. Therefore, higher-intensity loads can only be performed for a few repetitions, while lower-intensity loads can be moved for a relatively high number of repetitions before fatigue sets in.
  4. Training for strength requires using heavier loads, which subsequently limits the number of reps that can be performed. A heavier weight will automatically recruit more type II fibers in the involved muscles. Type II fibers rely on anaerobic metabolism, which provides only a limited amount of energy. This is another reason why heavy weights can only be moved for a few reps at a time—the muscle simply runs out of available energy. If your goal is to improve strength, use weights that cause fatigue after no more than six repetitions.
  5. Training for definition can be achieved by a couple of different rep ranges. The number of reps isn’t as important as the length of time during which the muscle stays under tension. The type II fibers responsible for strength are also responsible for creating the appearance of muscle definition. Definition comes from a muscle maintaining a state of semi-contraction, which is achieved by keeping a muscle under tension for a longer period of time. A higher numbers of reps performed at a slower movement speed can facilitate the tension needed to increase definition. No matter how many reps you decide to use, to achieve definition you must reach a state of momentary fatigue, which means you’re not capable of performing another rep.
  6. If you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer or other type of endurance athlete, you are probably more interested in using strength training to support the specific training necessary to achieve success in your sport. In this case, your strength-training program should focus on activating the type I muscle fibers that rely on aerobic metabolism, which requires performing as many as 20 or 30 reps. Endurance athletes need to be as aerobically efficient as possible, so performing strength-training exercises with light weights for a high number of reps will help muscles develop the mitochondrial density and aerobic efficiency necessary to support endurance-training efforts. In this case, working until fatigue is not necessary, because you’re not trying to add muscle mass; in fact, you want to avoid working to fatigue. However, your rest intervals should be kept relatively short to ensure that your workout creates the necessary stimulus to engage your aerobic metabolism.
  7. Power, which is the ability to generate a significant amount of muscle force in the shortest amount of time possible, is a skill that requires specific programming to achieve. Power training can provide a number of important benefits and is completely safe if the appropriate number of reps is used. However, thanks to the popularity of high-intensity workout programs, it is often performed in an unsafe manner. Training for muscular power places tremendous metabolic and mechanical demands on muscle tissue and can rapidly fatigue the nervous system responsible for maintaining proper joint mechanics. When doing technical power-based lifts like the barbell snatch, clean-and-jerk, push press or hang clean, the focus should be on the quality of movement and not the quantity of reps performed. For safe, effective power training, the rep range should focus on the maximum force output for one or two reps and be limited to no more than four or five. The same is true for medicine ball throws or jumps—the emphasis should be on the quality of movement and not the number of repetitions performed. Jumps and throws should focus on technique and be performed for no more than six to eight reps at a time; doing more reps could cause fatigue, which significantly increases the risk of injury. Like endurance training, the goal of power training is NOT to go to fatigue, but to do the assigned number of reps with the best form possible.


This is a “yes and no” type of statement. Health and fitness professionals advocate for warm-up and cool-down periods for good reasons. First, a warm-up prepares the body to meet the demands of a workout. A warm-up does this by increasing muscle temperature and heart rate, releasing specific hormones, getting you mentally “fired up,” and improving range of motion. However, static stretching should be performed at the end of the workout during the cool-down portion. The most effective type of stretching before a workout is a dynamic series of exercises. This type of stretching involves the whole body, large muscles and multiple joints. The goal is to activate the muscles you will use during the workout. Static stretching, on the other hand, is focused on elongation and relaxation (generally). You don’t want to enter a workout in a relaxed and stretched state—chances are you will reduce force output and your workout won’t have the same quality or effectiveness as if you were to save the static hold for the end.


PFTL News JUNE 2017


This will be the third year that PFTL will offer a free walking clinic to our clients and the public.  We will meet Mondays and Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm, at the Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette.  Includes warm-up, stretching, intervals, stair climbing, core strengthening and a great way to get some extra exercise.  Contact Julie at 847-251-6834 or for more information.


More than 20,000 new food and drink items hit our grocery store shelves each year and, with so much conflicting information about health and nutrition floating around, it can be challenging to know what you should and should not be putting in your body. Here are five foods with unwarranted health halos that aren’t doing your body any favors, especially if you’re trying to reduce or your maintain your weight.

Fruit Juice – skip the juice. Eat your fruit—don’t drink it. Juice adds calories in a concentrated form without any of the fiber found in real fruit, which is one of the best reasons to eat fruit. When you juice fruitand discard the pulp or don’t include the peel, you’re getting rid half or more of the fiber.

Granola Bars – Granola bars aren’t so good for your waistline.  If it looks like a cookie and it tastes like a cookie…it’s a cookie. At its core, granola is just a grain with added sugar and fat. Package it up in bar form and it gets even less healthy. Most commercial granola bars are made with refined grains and contain added sweeteners and fat, and they rarely feature whole grains, fiber or protein, which should be key components of a better-for-you bar. You can find great recipes for homemade granola bars that are full of fiber and flavor.

Flavored Yogurt – flavored yogurts is bad for your waistline. If you can tolerate dairy, there is nothing wrong with plain yogurt. Unfortunately, not all yogurts are created equal, and most are packed with added sugar. Fruited and flavored yogurts are the worst, as they pretend to feature fruit. If they actually did include real fruit, it would also contain fiber, which yogurt products don’t. If you like fruited yogurt, make it yourself by adding real fruit to real yogurt and leave the flavored stuff on the shelf.

Veggie Chips – veggie chips aren’t a healthy food.  Veggie chip bags show pretty pictures of real vegetables, but the ingredient list tells a different story. Most vegetable chips are a variety of fried and salted versions of potato starch. While a potato is technically a vegetable, when you fry and salt it, you negate its nutritional value. In other words, veggie chips are glorified potato chips. You want real veggie chips? Cut up vegetables, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a modest amount of salt and bake them.

Pretzels – pretzels aren’t good for staying slim.  Somewhere in the fat-free frenzy of the 1990s, people got the notion that pretzels were a health food. Sure, they have no fat, but neither does white bread. And pretzels are just white bread with a little more crunch and salt. What about whole-grain pretzels, you say? You’d be hard-pressed to find a pretzel in which the first ingredient is actually a whole grain.  If you want a satiating snack, choose nuts over pretzels. Nuts contain fat, fiber and protein, and are a much more satiating snack.

WHY GOOD POSTURE MATTERS  (excerpted from IDEA Fitness Journal 2017)

Posture—or structural alignment—is a key element in any exerciser’s program. Our personal trainers constantly remind clients to maintain good alignment in order to minimize stress on tendons, joints and ligaments while exercising.  And clients do a good job of perfecting form under scrutiny—but as soon as their training sessions end, posture sometimes falls apart.

Most of us know and try to do other healthy behaviors—like getting enough sleep, eating vegetables and drinking water—we also need to think about our in everyday situations.

Why is this important?  –  Most people do not realize that good posture/alignment can improve their jobs, verbal communication, self‐confidence, mood or even bedroom relations.

Here are several ways posture can have a huge impact on quality of life.

Mood Booster or Buster – Just looking at somebody’s alignment gives a clue on how the person is feeling. For example, someone whose head is drooped could be feeling sad or depressed. In effect, mood dictates the alignment. But researchers have shown the reverse is true as well: Alignment can dictate mood.  A slouched posture has been shown to induce higher stress, feelings of helplessness, and the impression of depression on those viewing the slouched posture.  Good posture promotes a feeling of being in control.

Energy Drain – Researchers from San Francisco State University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan hypothesized that structural alignment could cause feelings of energy depletion. They found that students who were asked to walk in a slouched position reported a drop in energy levels,  and a subsequent increase in energy when asked to skip upright.

Success Builder – Several years ago, Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy, PhD, gave a TED Talk in which she popularized the concept of the “power pose.” Her presentation encourages people to hold a “posture of confidence” for 1–2 minutes before an important social interaction—even when they lack confidence. Cuddy says such a pose can influence testosterone and cortisone levels and may enhance a person’s success potential. She believes a powerful pose elicits perceptions of success and strength, while a meek one has the opposite effect.  Practicing a power pose before a job interview, for example, boosts a person’s odds of getting hired, according to her research.

Breath Booster – Posture has a big impact on breathing capacity, and it’s easy to prove it. Try this,  maintain an upright position and then inhale as fully as possible. Then, go into a hunched‐over position and inhale again. It will become obvious that poor alignment limits oxygen intake.

Confidence Builder – We’ve already discussed how a strong, confident posture can affect how others see us, but can it alter how we see ourselves? Researchers from Ohio State University and the Autonomous University of Madrid believe it can. To test their theory, they asked 71 students to write down their best and worst attributes while in a slumped or an upright position. The students then completed other tests requiring postural changes and self‐evaluations. For example, participants rated themselves on their work experience and qualifications in a job‐seeker scenario. Almost always, the slouched subjects rated themselves lower and expressed less confidence than the upright ones.

Words of Wisdom: Food is the most abused anxiety drug.  Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant.

PFTL News June 2016

NEW CLASSES STARTING IN JUNE  – Contact Julie Cohen to register for any of these classes.  Email or call 847-251-6834.

Basic Full-Body Tune-Up” – 60-minutes – 6-weeks – Starts Wednesday, June 15 from 4pm-5pm. Taught by personal trainer, Linda Meyer, CPT, this group class (min. 4; max. 5 participants)  focuses on flexibility, stability, strength, balance and endurance. It is designed as a full body workout with the aim of helping each person improve their overall fitness level.

Beginner level of fitness: this is a perfect class for motivated individuals who currently lack the strength, balance and flexibility they once had, and want to regain these qualities. The cost for this 6-week class is $100 per participant.

Functional Strength and Cardio – 60 minutes- 6 weeks- Starts Thursday, June 16 at 3pm (may meet on Tuesdays as an alternative).   This class uses various forms of equipment, with intervals of cardiovascular exercise. A core segment would include balance and Pilates exercises. It  also includes some game-like activities, e.g. obstacle courses and partner activities to achieve a fun whole body work-out. Taught by Ellen Flaxman, MS, CPT, this class is designed to be fun as well as an effective way to improve fitness. This is an intermediate level class. Cost is $100 for the 6-week course. We will need a minimum of 4 participants; max 5. The cost for this 6-week class is $100 per participant.

Theme-based Yoga Classes – Two new classes- Sundays at 10am and Tuesdays at 3pm. 60 minutes each – 6 week session- Starts Sunday June 12 at 10am and Tuesday, June 14 at 3pm. Taught by Jenny Klein, who incorporates Ashtanga style with other types of yoga into a hatha or basic practice. Each class is based on a different mind-body theme, where the poses match the theme. Classes are suitable for the beginner, the intermediate and even the more advanced student who wants a back-to-basics practice. Jenny guides alignment and breath, but with the understanding that every person has to respect what his or her body can do on the mat on any given day. We will need a minimum of 4 participants; max 5. The cost for this 6-week class is $100 per participant.

Free Walking Clinic -Learn how to get the most benefit out of walking as exercise, while walking in beautiful Gillson Park, Wilmette. Mondays and Thursdays starting June 13 through September 29; 5:30pm-6:30pm.  Debora Morris, Julie Cohen, Linda Meyer and Leslie Cohen will be leading and/or assisting.   Each meeting Includes warm-up, stretching, inclines, steps, balance and coordination. All fitness levels welcome. We meet at Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park.


If you think drinking a lot of coffee all day long will give you more energy, think again.

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system. Specifically, the chemical gooses the adrenal glands into releasing hormones — namely cortisol and adrenaline — that tell the body to go faster. The short-term result can be increased focus and better hand-eye coordination. But overdo caffeine on a regular basis and, eventually, the central nervous system runs out of gas. If you don’t restore yourself with sleep, proper nutrients and relaxation, you’ll quickly get into a cycle of short-term energy bursts followed by increased fatigue.

Besides fatigue, heavy coffee drinkers may also experience jitters, agitation, insomnia, heartbeat irregularities, frequent urination.

What can you do: It is advised to limit your daily dose of caffeine to less than 300 milligrams (mg). As a reference, a 12-ounce cup of Starbucks brewed coffee packs 260 mg of caffeine, while a 12-ounce Americano (two shots of the coffee chain’s espresso added to hot water) contains 150 mg. A 12-ounce cup of black tea, on the other hand, contains roughly 100 mg and green tea only 50 mg.

What’s a healthy amount for you? Most people know what amount their system can handle.  You may also want to support your adrenal glands with B vitamins (especially B5/pantothenic acid), vitamin C and licorice. Also, fuel up on healthy, whole foods that boost and maintain your energy.

TIPS FOR BIKE SAFETY (from State Farm newsletter May 2016)

Biking riding (instead of car riding) can save money, fight pollution and help you stay in shape. The bike rider, however, should be aware of the following to stay safe on the road.

Give a Good Once-over – Before you set off, make sure the brakes and gears work properly and that the tires are inflated correctly.  Over inflation can cause blow-outs.

Know the Rules of the Road-Your bike is considered a vehicle, so laws that apply to motorists also apply to you. If you’re biking on the road, you should:

  • Obey all traffic lights, road markings and stop signs.
  • Ride with traffic, and use the right lane or bike lane.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turns and lane changes.

Wear a Helmet – A properly fitted helmet is a must-have. Helmets can reduce the risk of brain injury or other head trauma if you’re involved in a crash. But remember: Helmets are designed to withstand only one crash. Replace yours after any crash, and never wear a helmet with cracks, missing pieces or other damage

PFTL NEWS October 2015

NEW CLASS – PILATES MAT  – 60-minute – 6-weeks ; starts Tuesday, October 20 at 1pm

 Former ballet dancer, Ellen Krafft, will be teaching this new class.  She has been teaching Pilates since 1996; Ellen blends traditional Pilates with ballet training to create a movement class which addresses alignment, core strengthening, balance and flexibility.  Cost for the 6-week class is $120.   Contact Julie to register for this class; 847-251-6834.

NEW CLASS — BASIC FULL-BODY TUNE-UP – 60-minute – 6-weeks – Starts Wednesday, October 21 at 3PM.

Taught by personal trainer, Linda Meyer, CPT, this group class (max. 5 participants) This class will focus on flexibility, stability, strength, balance and endurance. It is designed as a full body workout with the aim of helping each person achieve his/her fitness goals.  Beginner level of fitness: this is a perfect class for motivated individuals who currently lack the strength, balance and flexibility they once had, and want to regain these qualities. Call to register 847-251-6834.


“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”
– Joey Adams

 “Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes. “
– Robert M. Hutchins

You know you should exercise, since it’s good for you. So why is it so hard to stay active? Turns out, the reasons might not be what you think. Here’s a look at what may be preventing you from sticking with an exercise routine — and suggestions on how to keep at it.

  1. You’re Working Out for Weight Loss – This is a surprisingly bad motivator when it comes to getting you to lace up those sneakers. In one study, some women who exercised to lose weight, exercised less, while other women, who exercised to feel better and curb stress, worked out more.

The fix: You should remind yourself often of all the ways exercise makes you feel good, like having more energy and getting better rest, that have nothing to do with weight loss.

  1. You’re Overdoing It – There’s no doubt that exercise can be a big life change, but at the beginning the change shouldn’t be drastic. Pain and exhaustion are de-motivators.

The fix: Ease into an exercise routine and start slowly.

  1. You Feel Bad About Your Body – Maybe you’re self-conscious about your stomach or you don’t like the way you look in yoga pants. Or maybe, exercise conjures up unpleasant memories of school gym classes.

The fix: Working out in the privacy of your own home is an option. Find a workout that’s right for you on a DVD, YouTube channel, and/or hire a personal trainer to get your started.

  1. You Chose the Wrong Workout – If you hate the type of exercise you are doing (walking on treadmills, lifting weights, etc), rethink about what you enjoy doing. Chances are physical activity was fun at some point in your life: ask yourself why you enjoyed it.

The fix: If you’re stumped, think of trying something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance to do, or something you enjoyed in the past. Biking, roller skating, dancing, yoga are activities that you may have enjoyed doing, but somewhere along the line just forgot.

  1. You’re in Pain – A bad back, sore knee, or arthritis can make getting fit a challenge. But if you’ve got a chronic condition, you probably need exercise even more.

The fix: Ask your doctor for a prescription for physical therapy. It can help so much, and it’s often covered by insurance. The physical therapist will teach you safe ways to get fitter and stronger.


Sugar-sweetened beverages are currently the largest source of added sugar in the diet — accounting for about 50%. The World Health Organization and 2015 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommend limiting intake of all added sugars to no more that 10% of total energy intake (equivalent to about 12 tsps of sugar). One 12-oz serving of soda alone contains about 10 to 12 tsps of sugar!

The new study provides an analysis of data for potential replacements of sugared beverages: water is best, and unsweetened coffee or tea are acceptable, while fruit juices and artificially sweetened beverages are less ideal, but still better than sugar-sweetened drinks.

Fructose, naturally occurring in whole foods such as fruit and vegetables is generally not a problem. Such fructose is absorbed more slowly due to the fiber content of whole fruits and vegetables, whereas fructose in beverages is absorbed rapidly.

The most important information is that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and gout, and that to reduce risk of these conditions and to promote health and overall well-being, they should be replaced with healthier options.

Beverages containing added sugar contribute to weight gain because they do not promote satiety, leading to increased food intake. And because of their high amounts of rapidly absorbable sugar, they induce rapid spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Fructose in these beverages — from any sugar or high-fructose corn syrup — also promotes the accumulation of visceral fat, elevates LDLs (bad cholesterol), and accumulates fat deposits under the skin. Fructose also increases production of uric acid, which has been linked to gout and insulin resistance.


The Rotary Club of Wilmette has its annual Book Drive from October 1-November 16.  If you have any books to donate, in good condition, suitable for children from pre-school to high school, please bring them to the studio.  We have a box for collecting the books. The books will be distributed to children in inner-city schools in Chicago.

PFTL NEWS April 2015



Get stronger in ADL’s (activities of daily living) and come join us for a class that addresses the needs of active mature adults. Do you feel you could be doing more to stay strong and independent as you age, but are NOT looking for a boot camp style workout?  This fun hybrid class will have you building strength in functional ways, improving your balance and agility, and even hone in on your cognition with some fun brain games.  Pre-class fitness assessment is included. This class is intended for people who do not have major orthopedic issues, although modifications will be made for those with minor limitations. Min/Max 5 particpants. Prerequisite:  Fitness Assessment (included) and medical clearance. This class will be taught by Bev Pines, CPT.  Cost is $96 for the 6-week session ($16/class)

 LET US KNOW WHAT DAY AND TIME YOU PREFER: Saturday at 12:30pm or Sunday at 11:30am.  Whatever the majority want will determine which day the class will meet.


It can be very confusing to read labels on any food these days. Trying to determine if it is healthy, safe, or even contains what you wanted in the first place, can be a challenge.

Food marketers can legally use a wide assortment of words, symbols and health claims to make a product with questionable nutritional value seem nourishing. It’s almost impossible to identify every one of these marketing hypes. Instead, experts from IDEA Fitness Journal recommend these broad principles as practical solutions to avoid buying potentially non-healthy food items:

Beware the hype. Anything “healthful” that you see on the front of a food package puts you more at risk of overeating and of misjudging the true healthfulness of the product. We’ve found that the least-healthy products tend to have the most nutrition claims on the front.

Read the back. Consumers should ignore the nutrition claims on the front of product packages and read the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list on the back instead.

Anticipate hyperbole. Many health claims on package fronts are exaggerated and/or based on circumstantial inferences—not hard science.

Eat whole foods as often as possible. Choose foods from nature in their whole state.

There are two important things to look for: the ‘USDA Organic’ seal, and the ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ seal. These are the two terms that hold the most legitimacy. These two are the hardest to get around by food manufacturers. They are not perfect, but they are the best we have today.

EAT MORE BUGS FOR LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE  (from IDEA Fitness Journal, April 2015)

Every day there seems to be a new study heralding the work done by the billions of microorganisms in our guts. Probiotics, the live organisms (naturally occurring bacteria) in your body, are working overtime to keep us healthy, and now—according to recent research published in the AHA journal Hypertension (July 21, 2014)— it seems they could play a role in keeping our blood pressure in check.

“The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels,” said Jing Sun, PhD, lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. “This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”

After analyzing the results of nine studies examining blood pressure and probiotic consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure, researchers concluded that probiotics may help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and helping to regulate the hormone system that controls blood pressure and fluid balance.

THREE QUESTIONS ON DEMENTIA     (From Idea Fitness Journal, Feb. 2015)

  1. What Is Dementia? Dementia is the loss of mental abilities over time. It is often severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily activities. People with dementia may have trouble learning new things and remembering names, and may have changes in behavior. They may experience irritation if they fail to complete a task.
  2. Can Exercise Reduce the Effects of Dementia? A growing body of research shows that cardiovascular exercise may help delay the loss of functional independence and dementia. Researchers found that the brain’s cognitive networks display improved functionality after 6–12 months of consistent cardiovascular exercise.
  3. How Much Exercise Is Needed to Attain These Neuroprotective Effects on Dementia? The exercise parameters suggest that approximately 150 minutes per week of cardiovascular exercise in 20 to 30-minute bouts at an intensity of 60% of heart rate maximum is sufficient. (Ahiskog et al. 2011).