Archive for the ‘Laura Coombs’ Category

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Laura Coombs, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYMOVE YOUR GUTS!

By Laura Coombs, M.S., A.T.C., C.S.C.S.

Are you serious about getting healthy? Start with your gut! If you’re neglecting your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, your diet and exercise regime will be less effective. Here’s why.

The purpose of food is to supply nutrients to our cells. Before it can work at the cellular level, food makes a stop in the stomach, where it is churned by the muscular walls of the stomach and broken down into a thin paste by the gastric juices and stomach acids. Most nutrients are then passed to small intestine, but water, electrolytes, proteins, and alcohol begin the digestion process here. Because high blood alcohol content is potentially lethal, your stomach prioritizes the digestion of alcohol when it is present to prevent it from entering the bloodstream. Consequently, the digestion of beneficial and health-promoting water, electrolytes, and proteins are put on hold and our cells are deprived essential nourishment. Let your stomach do its job by eliminating alcohol from your diet, thereby maximizing your muscles’ supply of protein and fluids!

Once your food has become chyme (that thin paste your stomach churned out), it passes into the small intestine. Almost all digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs via the blood and lymphatic vessels in and around this 20 foot tube. Once there, our food spends 3-5 hours in the small intestine’s specialized design of villi, mucous, and intestinal juice. These structures thrive in a basic (ph 7.0 or higher) environment that is rich in “friendly” bacteria. Maintaining an optimal environment in your small intestine is critical to proper nutrient uptake, fat metabolism, immunity, and even brain health. Condition your gut with foods that balance your ph (raw fruits and veggies!) and fermented foods that are high in probiotics (keifer, kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso!)

Finally, the chyme moves into the 5 foot long large intestine, which is loaded with more friendly bacteria to complete the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The bacteria here also contribute to the formation of vitamins B and K. The large intestine’s lining is suited for water absorption and final removal of waste. With the help of a high fiber diet, things will chug along optimally, and leave the large intestine in 3-10 hours. Be sure to get 20-35 grams of natural fiber (no synthetic supplements!) from a diet rich in vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans and drink LOTS of water to keep your large intestine healthy.

Adding water, fiber, raw fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods not only move your guts, but create a habitat for optimal digestion, immunity, vitamin synthesis, and brain power!

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Extreme Rampage 2013

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Facing mud pits, cargo nets, rope walls, tire drills and tunnel crawls… yes, Extreme Rampage 2013 was a blast. The weather was perfect for the event on Saturday morning, Sept. 7, at Masterson Station Park. A crew of six from Fitness Plus went off in wave #5 (of 8) for the 4-mile cross-country obstacle course.

Trainers Laura Coombs and Joey Hacker were veterans from the 2012 Extreme Rampage, so they helped the newbies out. It was a test of strength, balance, agility and determination.

Congrats to Fitness Plus clients David Brian, Kimberly Campbell and Steve MacNeil, for their “veni, vidi, vici” moment. They came and saw and conquered this thing.

How fit are your feet?, by Laura Coombs, CSCS, NSCA, ATC

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Laura Coombs, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYHow fit are your feet?, by Laura Coombs, CSCS, NSCA, ATC


The foot plays an important role as the foundation of our skeleton, both while we stand and while we ambulate.  Our posture, balance, power, and grace are all rooted in our feet.   Without foundation rigidity, we wobble.  Without foundation suppleness, we teeter and tilt.   Are your feet ready for this job?

The foot is made of 26 bones and 20 muscles.    This great number of moveable structures implies that our foot is meant to move!!  So why do we lace it into in a restrictive shoe all day?   Obviously our feet need protection from the elements and from debris, but most of us are deconditioning our feet by limiting their function in tight clunky shoes.    If you have certain conditions and have been advised by a doctor to wear a specific type of shoe, the following recommendations are not for you.  But if you’re ready to make your feet fit AND functional, try these tips:


1)      Take your shoes and socks off when you walk around inside your house!  Allow the bones and muscles to absorb the shock of your gait.  This trains them to spring back against the impact and can help build a healthy arch.

2)      Barefooted, try standing on one foot while you wash the dishes or brush your teeth.   Let the tiny joints in your feet react to the instability, thus keeping them mobile.

3)      Sit down and wiggle your toes…all TEN!  Can they move independently?  Use all the muscles in your feet!

4)      Interlace your fingers with your toes.  Squeeze your fingers with your toes, now squeeze your toes with your fingers.  Repeat 5 times.  Feel the burn?

5)      Put a basket of pencils near your couch.  Practice picking them up one by one while you read or watch TV.

6)      Grab a print out of the sign language alphabet and see if you can spell your name with your foot.  Fun!

A strong, mobile foot can improve how your foundation feels as well as how it supports the rest of your body.  Try these exercises and I’ll bet  your knees, hips, and low back feel better too!

Why I Value My Fitness Plus Trainer

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Laura Coombs (left) with Fitness Plus client Peggy HendersonIn the spirit of Thanksgiving, Fitness Plus held a contest in November 2012 called “Why I Value My Fitness Plus Trainer.”
Congratulations to Peggy Henderson for the winning entry. Peggy receives two free training sessions at Fitness Plus and will be featured in an upcoming Fitness Plus ad in Chevy Chaser magazine, with a photo of her and her trainer, Laura Coombs.

Here is Peggy’s essay:
Last December, I visited my doctor for my annual checkup and she stated: “You are 50 pounds overweight and your blood sugar is up. It is time to put your on medicine for Type II diabetes. “I left her office feeling disgusted with myself but equally determined to do something about it. I would not take one more medicine for a self-inflicted illness!
Together with my husband, we decided that 2012 would be the year we finally made a commitment to gaining and maintaining good health.
I have been an educator for the past 25 years. I know what good teaching looks like. To be successful, I knew I would need a trainer who would be an excellent teacher. And that is exactly what Sheila found for us. She introduced us to Laura Coombs. Laura recognized immediately that I hated exercise, that I was not very good at exercise, and that I would need lots of support and encouragement to be successful. And that is exactly what she has delivered to both my husband and me.
When I decided to write this, I searched for a quote to explain what it is that has made Laura such an excellent teacher. Dan Rather said this about great teachers, “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes, and leads you onto the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.”
On a weekly basis since February, Laura has tugged me, pushed me, coddled me, listened to me, encouraged me, instructed me, and, on occasion, ‘poked me with the ugly truth.’ In all that time, she has never once belittled me nor made me feel stupid or inadequate. When I complain, she ignores me; when I complain some more, she brings out her sharp wit and distracts me with good humor.
Fitness Plus client Peggy Henderson working with personal trainer Laura CoombsI would like to say that I am now addicted to exercise or at least that I love going to sessions; neither of those statements is true.
However, as I sit here some 30-plus lbs. lighter, a little bit stronger, and not on that additional medication, I would like to say that I am thankful that we had the good sense to visit Fitness Plus and hire Laura Coombs.

Fitness Plus personal trainer Laura Coombs and client Peggy HendersonWhile I am no prize student and I have no illusions that I ever will be, I am extremely grateful to Laura for helping me overcome my absolute hatred of exercise, gyms, and personal trainers. It took a special lady to do that for me. Thank you, Laura Coombs, you are the best!
—Peggy Henderson

Other clients had good things to say about their trainers. Here are some more testimonials of gratitude.

Client: Bill Goodman
Trainer: Laura Coombs

Laura Coombs, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KY“OK, let’s do it again,” Laura said, as I lay gasping for breath on the gym floor, sweat coursing its way down my face like a small stream seeking a pool to puddle into. Looking up at her in disbelief, I stammered, “Ahhh, ohhh, kinda thought that was the last round. I’m done.” Laura arranged the ropes and the ball for another round.

“You’ve got one more in ya. Come on.”

I did manage to squeeze in a gulp of water. Then it was back on the floor for an up-side-down spider crawl, an over-the-head leg kick to standing position and the dreaded undulating rope slam and double side winder drill — and I thought all along heavy rope was used to tie ships to the dock.

This is what a good personal trainer does for you — pushes you to the limit, encourages you to do better, builds confidence, offers nutritious eating and drinking tips — and if you catch her on a good day, she’ll throw in a movie or book suggestion; all this and a big smile makes a good personal training session worth it.

—Bill Goodman

Client: Margie Hacker
Trainer: Chris Williams

Chris Williams, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYI am healthier today than I was 10 years ago. Chris Williams took an old unfit lady and made her feel better and stronger than she had ever been. I don’t even hurt anywhere.

While making me work at some things I don’t like (I am making a list), Chris and I laugh, gossip, discuss world matters, sports and kid around; making the hour go faster. Although I don’t like to admit it, after an hour I feel better and am glad I came. Chris has kept me coming for nine years. I am very grateful. Thanks for caring.

—Margie Hacker

Client: Ricki Rosenberg
Trainer: Chris Williams

The most important thing about Chris is that he is the best . . . the very best. He always says “perfect” and “great job,” even if it’s not exactly true. When I’m tired and not really in the mood to work out, he varies what we do and keeps me motivated. If I have to switch our session time, he works hard to make it happen. But the most important thing about Chris is that he loves his job, making him an enthusiastic and hard-working trainer.

—Ricki Rosenberg

Client: Bari Ewing
Trainer: Katie Dennison

Katie Dennison, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYIn June of 2012 I was turning 31. I was overweight and more sedentary than I wanted to be. I felt unhealthy and took as many as 7 medications a day.

About to pay off my car, I decided that I would put that morning toward bettering myself. I met Katie Dennison in 2011 doing Team in Training, so I inquired about her personal training services.

Toward the end of the month, I came in for my first session. I liked how training and changing the way I think about food was not overwhelming, but instead it has always been encouraging. I’ve never dreaded an upcoming session with Katie.

Like most people, my time is at a premium. I’m a full-time mechanical engineer, travelling as many as 10 nights a month, and a part time master’s student. I love how I can just look at each week, pick a day or two to come in, and then get billed at the end of the month for those sessions. This has been the best way I could spend my money.

I never expected it to click so well with me. I feel wonderful. In 4 months, I’ve lost 16 lbs. I’m down to taking just 2 medications a day. It’s so easy too. My body wants me to eat cleaner and eat to fuel my more active lifestyle.

I find if I have a free evening, I’m excited to schedule another session with Katie or find a local exercise class to attend. I cannot thank Fitness Plus and Katie enough for leading me toward the healthier life I wanted and for helping me feel like I can continue this way for the rest of my life.

—Bari Ewing

Client: Hesan Haghnazar
Trainer: Katie Dennison

My Fitness Plus personal trainer is the most important factor to wellness in my life. I say this because first of all she diets and knows exactly what to eat and she is not a hypocrite: she practices what she preaches.

Secondly, she consistently and routinely exercises because she is in the gym almost every day working out with her clients and she never takes a break; the key is she is truly passionate for her work and is goal oriented (she is my hero).

Another key is that she is a good role model because she leads a healthy lifestyle and is very intuitive. I love a good role model because they are like lighthouses in life’s turbulent ocean: they stand high and tall as a beacon of hope.

Most importantly of all is that she is the de facto icon of wellness in my mind because she defines the lifestyle I want for the rest of my life. She is a true symbol of wellness to humanity and I have felt the aura radiate from her since the first day I met her before she began this career. Everyone needs a trigger to motivate themselves; Katie Dennison is my trigger. In conclusion, my Fitness Plus personal trainer means the world to me. Thank you.

—Hesan Haghnazar

Client: Brenda Lampton
Trainer: Amy Ball

Amy Ball, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYThe experts tell us that the older we get, the more important it is to exercise and stay active. This advice, plus my desire to improve my golf game, is why I keep coming to see Amy Ball at Fitness Plus.

Except for the time I spend in Florida, I have been scheduling weekly sessions with Amy since April 2012 — with very good results. Amy’s routines have allowed me to stay physically fit and healthy.

My flexibility, my balance, my upper body strength — all keep improving and will get even better. I can see the results of my sessions with Amy on the golf course. My drives are longer and my swing is effortless, yet much more accurate. My golf handicap is the lowest it has been in 7 years.

Of course there are days that I would rather NOT show up for my workout, but I do anyway — and I feel really good afterwards. I will be sticking with this fitness routine at Fitness Plus — a very important part of my life. Thanks, Amy!

—Brenda Lampton

Client: Jo Leone
Trainer: Jackie Hanson

Jackie Hanson, personal trainer at Fitness Plus in Lexington, KYMy friend said, “Why don’t you exercise?” and I said, “Oh, my aching back.” My friend said, “Come to Fitness Plus, meet Jackie — she’ll get you back on track.”

So I did. We stretch, we use balls, we lift weights; we walk, get on the floor, use bands (which I hate). So, even on a dark, gloomy day, Jackie’s bright smile makes going to the gym okay.

She is so positive, so energetic, she has really helped me. Some days after class I must treat her to coffee or tea. She has taught me to be steady, work hard, not to slack; I recommend Jackie Hanson if you’ve ever had a stiff, aching back.

—Jo Leone

Sheila Kalas and Laura Coombs on KET

Monday, January 30th, 2012

“One to One with Bill Goodman” features Sheila Kalas and Laura Coombs.

Bill Goodman, host of “One to One” on KET, interviewed Sheila Kalas and Laura Coombs about getting fit and healthy, and staying that way.  The show, episode #704, aired in January 2012. Watch the 30-minute show online at

After the show, Bill continued the conversation with Sheila and Laura. He asked them for more tips on nutrition and fitness. That video is on Bill’s blog in a post called “We All Need More Exercise” at

Sheila is a personal trainer and the owner of Fitness Plus. Laura is a personal trainer at Fitness Plus and the faculty head of the Personal Fitness Training certification program at the Lexington Healing Arts Academy.

Health information comes to us from all angles and it can be confusing. Laura advises getting back to the basics. “It can be as easy as eat less and move more,” she said.

Sheila suggests looking at the world of fitness as gray, not black and white. Instead of feeling defeated before you even start, just start. Something is better than nothing. “Early mortality rates are reduced greatly with moderate exercise,” she said.

They both offer tips and information on diet and exercise, the personal training industry, recognizing and removing barriers to fitness, healthy eating habits, and personal accountability.

“Own your own body and take responsibility for it,” said Sheila. “You’re the only person that can make it better or worse.”

Click to play video from KET

Trainer Tip: 2012 Success Plan by Laura Cooms, ATC, CSCS

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Fitness Plus trainer, Laura Coombs

What are your goals for 2012?  Many of us use the New Year to re-charge our focus on self-improvement of some kind.   The 5 steps below can help you stick to your resolutions and keep you motivated long enough to make a real change this year.   I’m a fan of lists, so get your pen and paper out and let’s make a plan!


Preparation before Action. Gather your tools!  Many people dive into a goal dreaming about the end result and don’t take time to plan.   List 10 things you’ll need for success with your goal.  If you want to lose 20 pounds this year, your list might include a good pair of walking shoes, a pedometer, a water bottle, a subscription to a fitness magazine, a personal trainer, an exercise DVD, a food journal, an exercise buddy, a specific time of day and weekly schedule for exercise, and a commitment to eating more veggies.   This step can also be used to consider your potential barriers to success and remove them!  Make time to remove excuses.  See your doctor if you have aches or pains that prevent you from exercising.   Get a new cookbook and learn how to make vegetables delicious.   Make new friends who are active if your current mode of social networking involves sitting, eating, or drinking.  If you have kids at home, choose exercises that are family friendly like walking, dancing, going to the playground, or playing ball.

Being vs. Having. “What would Dara do?”  My fitness role model, Dara Torres, crosses my mind every time I reach for a cookie, head for the couch, or blow off my workout.  Instead of focusing on HAVING arms and abs like hers, it helps me to focus on BEING the girl that would opt for a nutritious snack, an energizing run, or a visit to the weight room.    Similarly, when we think about BEING that person who loses 20 pounds, we “be” that person who stands up a little taller, pulls our core in a little tighter, drinks water instead of soda, eats veggies instead of sugary carbs, and chooses to walk instead of sit.  This mentality also prevents a relapse to old behaviors once we meet our goal.  It motivates us to continue toward a new goal when we meet our current one.  Instead of just HAVING buff arms and abs or a 20 pound weight loss, we end up BEING someone with excellent habits and behaviors long beyond our target goal.  What are 10 things you can “be” while working toward your goal?

Approach vs. Avoid. Be a “yes” man (or woman).  Saying yes, or approaching, positive behaviors is better for our psyche than trying to avoid negative behaviors.  Basically, approaching makes us happy! Encouraged! Proud! On the other hand, avoiding makes us feel deprived, anxious, and punished.  APPROACH 10 specific things that will help you reach your goals, like 30 minutes of exercise/day, 5 veggies/day,  plenty of water, and a weekly visit to the farmer’s market, vs. focusing on avoiding laziness, avoiding sweets, avoiding soda, and avoiding fast food. The outcome will be the same, but you’ll feel more motivated to continue.

Process vs. Outcome. Stay in the moment.  Stop obsessing about the outcome. In my experience as a trainer, people who maintain excellent health and fitness for a lifetime are the ones that really enjoy the process.  We like the challenge of making our plate colorful or our running stride quiet or our muscles contract through a full range of motion (OK…maybe that’s just me).  Try focusing on your workout PROCESS by paying attention to your breath, your energy, your power, your balance, your posture…instead of focusing on the outcome of losing 20 pounds.  You will be more motivated to eat right and exercise if you find a way to enjoy the process.  What are 10 PROCESS goals you can set for yourself?

Why? Why? Why? Get invested.  We are more motivated by goals that have deep meaning.  Yes, I want to look like Dara Torres, but that won’t always be enough to motivate me.  Ask yourself, “Why MUST I accomplish this goal this year?”  List 10 reasons why it has to happen now.  I MUST workout like Dara Torres this year because it will prevent heart disease and cancer, which both run in my family.  I MUST workout like Dara Torres this year because I want to continue climbing the mountains of the Adirondacks and not get injured.  I MUST workout like Dara Torres this year because I have 10 nieces and nephews who are counting on me to chase them around the playground.  On a day when you’re feeling uninspired by your goal to lose 20 pounds, your list of meaningful reasons behind your goal will motivate you.   This list may also help you to uncover complimentary paths to your goal, like hiking and playing on the monkey bars more.  Why (x 10) are you going to meet your goal this year?

Hopefully the wheels of motivation and success are turning now.  Take a look back at your lists every month and make adjustments/additions as you proceed toward your goal.  Have a healthy, happy 2012!


Laura Coombs is a Certified Personal Trainer at Fitness Plus and is the Personal Training Faculty Head at Lexington Healing Arts Academy.  Her class “Lifestyle Fitness Coaching” combines the elements of personal training with exercise psychology and behavior modification.  She can be reached at





Trainer Tip: Knee Pain? This Can Help, by Laura Coombs, A.T.C., CSCS

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Fitness Plus Trainer, Laura Coombs

Knee pain or hip weakness?
Knee pain has affected 19% of us in the past 30 days and is the second most prevalent type of joint pain (preceded only by back pain), according to the CDC. Knee pain can be especially frustrating, especially when we don’t understand how we got it or if it keeps coming back!   It is sometimes caused by a single incident or injury, but more often it is caused by prolonged abnormal posture or repetitive motion.  Many times, knee pain is a result of UNDERUSING the neighboring joint, the hip!
Consider the anatomy of the knee. It is a simple hinge joint braced only with tendons and ligaments.  Comparatively, the hip joint is both powerful and mobile, with many layers of muscle crossing it from a variety angles.  In many of us the hip is deactivated and neglected, and the knee is forced to take on the roles of changing direction, generating  power , and decelerating…all of which are jobs better suited for the hip.

Here are some exercises to activate your hip muscles and strengthen them:
1. Stand with feet straight and hip-width apart.
2. Lift chest and tuck chin.

3. Draw-in belly button and squeeze butt muscles.
4. Balance on one leg and lift other until knee is at waist level.
5. Rotating at hip, bring lifted leg toward side of body then back to front; hold each point two seconds.
6. Return to start.

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
2. Place tubing around ankles.

1. Keep feet straight and take small steps sideways.
2. Repeat in opposite direction.


1. Lie with ball between shoulder blades and head resting on ball, hands on hips. Place feet on floor, hip-width apart.

2. Draw-in belly button and squeeze butt muscles.
3. Lift pelvis until knees are in-line with hips and shoulders.
4. Lower pelvis.

If we improve the function of our hips and allow them to do the work they were made for, we will take unnecessary pressure off our knees and let them do what they were meant for: simply bending the leg.
Laura Coombs is a certified athletic trainer and strength coach who specializes in posture analysis and corrective exercise techniques.   She trains at Fitness Plus and is an academic instructor at the Lexington Healing Arts Academy.

F.P. personal trainer, Laura Coombs posterior chain workout

Sunday, April 4th, 2010
Fitness Plus trainer, Laura Coombs

Fitness Plus trainer, Laura Coombs

Summer is coming…how are your glamor muscles looking? Are your abs amazing?  Chest chiseled?  Biceps buff?  Hey, everybody likes to show off their hard work.

Now, consider your backside for a moment. Have you paid enough attention to exercises for your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings? Together they form the “posterior chain” a powerful muscular scaffolding and support to our pelvis and keep us from hunching forward like our caveman ancestors.   They also serve as decelerators and “put on the brakes” for us when gravity pulls us forward into a fall.

The posterior chain is important!  Often, we forget to train these muscles because we can’t see them.  But without them, our posture suffers, our back aches, our hips get tight and inflamed, our knees become more prone to injury, and we are likely to lose our balance and fall forward.  Not does the posterior chain get weak without regular training, these muscles actually become long, lazy, and very hard to activate!  Think about it…most of us are sitting on them all day!!  Ready to wake them up? Try These:

Butt Kick with Drive:
Stand up tall with good posture and knees slightly bent.
Keep knees side by side, pull heel to butt, then extend at hip by driving foot and knee behind you.  Alternate and repeat 20 times.
Make sure to stand tall throughout and don’t arch your lower back.
Figure 1: Butt Kick w/ drive, start
Figure 2: Butt Kick w/ drive; action

Calf Raise with Row:

Start with hands together at chest level and feet flat, shoulder width apart, and knees slightly bent.
Elevate on toes and pull hand in toward chest, driving elbows by sides, focusing on pinching shoulder blades together.
Repeat 20 times.
Figure 3: Calf raise w/ row; start
Figure 4: Calf raise w/ row; action

Flutter Kick:
Stand tall with both arms reaching overhead and feet shoulder width apart. Simultaneously reach back with your left arm and right leg, then return to start.
Next reach back with your right arm and left leg, then return to start.  Alternate back and forth until completing prescribed reps.  Focus on extension at your thoracic spine and hips – DO NOT ARCH YOUR LOWER BACK.
Repeat 20 times.
Figure 5: Flutter kick
Figure 6: Flutter kick

Shovel Toss:

Stand up tall with good posture.
Slightly rotate to the left with upper back, keeping abs and lower back stablized.
Next rotate to your right as if you were throwing snow over your shoulder.  Focus movement in your thoracic spine and shoulders – keep hips and knees facing forward.
Complete 20 reps and repeat in the opposite direction.
Figure 7: Shovel toss; start
Figure 8: Shovel toss; action

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