Invest in Yourself

March 27th, 2016

by Sheila Kalas, master trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, master trainer and owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington, KentuckyDo you have some type of plan for financing your retirement? We understand that money invested early in life will pay benefits later in life. Even if it is painful at the time, saving and investing money when you are young will increase the quality of your life in later years.

Now, have you thought about those exact same principles in relation to exercise? If you haven’t, then it is time that you do. When it comes to “investing now for future benefits,” exercise and money are a lot alike. If you can start to see exercise as an active investment in your retirement-age health, then you may be much more likely to start and stick with exercise.

When it comes to investing money, the sooner you start, the greater the potential reward. But financial advisers will tell you it’s never too late to start. Is this the same with exercise? Most experts would say yes.

People who moderately exercise throughout their life often have greater “rewards” in their later years, but those who are late starters still reap benefits. In fact, you have a better chance of making up ground with exercise than you do with investing money.

Lifelong exercisers are more likely to avoid conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. However, those who start later and already have one or more of these conditions can often cure themselves of these through exercise.

Exercise is not a guarantee that you will not develop a chronic condition, but there are no guarantees with financial investments either. Do you think you will make more money by NOT investing? Do you think you will see greater results in your body and health by not exercising?

See your body as your most precious commodity, for without it, life is over. Take care of your body and prepare it for retirement like you prepare you bank accounts. Invest in yourself on a regular basis for years and years and you will see the rewards of your efforts. It is not easy and does take discipline, but it is worth it. You are worth it.

How to Change Your Exercise Focus Over 50

July 1st, 2015

Who doesn’t want to be strong over 50?

Sheila Kalas, founder and owner of Fitness Plus, offers solid information about shifting one’s exercise focus from beach body to independence and stability as we age. She shared stats and tips with reporter Matt Groves during a segment of “Good Day Kentucky” (GDK) on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Fitness Plus is a certified Strong Over 50 facility. It is important to develop neuromuscular communication, which is the brain talking to your body. When the brain communicates with muscles, a slip on the ice, e.g., could be embarrassing but not dangerous because you’re receiving the signal to get your hands out in front of you quickly. Your body responds to situations because of good neuromuscular communication.

Without proper neuromuscular communication, however, an older person could slip or fall with an awkward landing that results in a head injury. The 6th leading cause of death in people over 60 is an injury from a fall.

Working on stabilization and balance are more important than how much you can bench press. “Independence is directly tied to your mobility and your stability,” said Sheila.

Watch Matt’s GDK interview with Sheila:

Previous GDK interviews:

  • How to Avoid Low Back Pain
  • How to Have Healthy Office Habits
  • How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries
  • How to Choose a Personal Trainer
  • How to Avoid Low Back Pain

    June 5th, 2015

    Golfing and gardening are great. Do they cause you low back pain, though?

    Sheila Kalas, founder and owner of Fitness Plus, gave tips on how to alleviate low back pain by increasing core strength and stability. She shared two exercises in particular with news anchor Lauren Gawthrop during a segment of “Good Day Kentucky” (GDK) on Friday, May 29, 2015.

    First of all, the heat and humidity of summer can be dangerous, so your body needs time to acclimate. Be sure to stay hydrated. One way to know if you’re getting enough water is to check when you pass water: is it clear or pale yellow? Great. Dark urine signifies dehydration.

    Now on to alleviating low back pain by strengthening the core.

    Plank. Watch the video for proper planking form. Work up from a few seconds to one minute or two minutes.

    The farmer carry. Carrying something heavy in one hand, while you keep your shoulders level, will work the core muscles on the opposite side. No tilting as you walk. This farmer carry exercise braces your core and takes pressure off your low back.

    Increasing core strength and stability means less low back pain.

    Watch Lauren’s GDK interview with Sheila:

    Previous GDK interviews:

  • How to Have Healthy Office Habits
  • How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries
  • How to Choose a Personal Trainer
  • How to Have Healthy Office Habits

    April 26th, 2015

    Sitting is the new smoking. Sheila Kalas, founder and owner of Fitness Plus, gave tips on how to stay healthy if you have to sit all day, when she was interviewed by news anchor Lauren Gawthrop during a segment of “Good Day Kentucky” (GDK) on Friday, April 24, 2015.

    If you spend your entire workday sitting down, get up and moving somehow. Here are some ways to have healthy office habits.

    1. Don’t sit for long periods of time. One suggestion is to stand up every time the phone rings. “When you’re standing and not sitting, you’re helping your health,” Sheila said.

    2. Ask your HR department about being able to use a conversion desk, a standup desk or a treadmill desk.

    3. Have a walking meeting with colleagues or clients instead of a sit-down meeting in the conference room.

    4. Set an alarm to go off every 20 minutes, to do some sort of activity for about a minute or two. Walk down the hall, or do two sets of 10 sit-stand-squat exercises. When you do something that often over the course of a day you’ll get in 16 sets of exercise.

    5. Because sitting for hours at a time causes poor posture (head forward and slumped shoulders), a weak overall core and back pain, here’s an exercise for the back muscles: Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pretend you’re squeezing a lemon between your shoulder blades.

    6. Engage your core. The core comprises all the muscles from chest to knees, so there are many, many exercises. One example is to pretend someone is going to punch you in the stomach and then contract your abdominal muscles.

    Watch Lauren’s GDK interview with Sheila:

    Previous GDK interviews:
    How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries

    How to Choose a Personal Trainer

    Exercise for Independence

    April 13th, 2015

    by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

    Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYExercise is THE best way to ensure that you will remain independent as you age. Why? Because exercise is the key to your mobility. The key to independence is mobility; if you can’t move enough to do daily chores like getting dressed, feeding yourself, going to the store, and taking care of your home, then you will be dependent on someone else to do these things for you. Research indicates that regular exercisers have an average of 9 to 13 more years of independent living than non-exercisers. That’s a great reason to get out there and move.

    The first baby boomers turn 69 in 2015 and the youngest boomers are 51 this year. This population is consumed with health, fitness and keeping a good quality of life as they age. They have seen or are seeing their aging parents deteriorate into old age, losing independence and dignity. They are determined not to follow in their parents’ paths.

    This is clearly seen in my business of personal training. A large percentage of our clients are baby boomers. On average they workout more consistently than the younger population. They are more interested in exercising for health than they are exercising to look good. They have the right attitude.

    Besides helping you keep your independence as you age, regular exercise reduces your chance for every major disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, risk of stroke, cancer, peripheral artery disease, Alzheimer’s and obesity.

    Knowing that just a 30-minute walk a day could greatly reduce your risk for all of these diseases should provide enough reason for you to get out there and do it. No, there is no absolute guarantee that you won’t get or die from these diseases because you exercise. However, the research shows overwhelming evidence that you do reduce risk significantly.

    There is also the issue of a condition called “sarcopenia.” This term refers to the age-related loss of muscle mass. Without some kind of weight-bearing exercise to challenge your muscles, your body will begin to lose muscle mass in your 30s. This loss will continue and speed up as you age. Simply lifting weights once or twice a week will stop this process of “rotting” and put you on a path of aging in a healthy, strong, independent manner.

    Losing muscle mass also leads to a lower metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. Many people believe that getting old and getting fat are synonymous and that there is no way to avoid this trend. Not so. Intervening with weight training does stop this process and in many cases can reverse it.

    Improved self-efficacy is yet another reason to exercise. For the first time, in 2010, the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized exercise as a part of the standard of care recommended for the treatment of depression. Depression is a huge problem in the United States. The statistics on how many people suffer from this disease is staggering. People who participate in regular exercise report a higher level of self-efficacy than those who do not exercise. Several studies show that people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety find marked benefit when exercise is added to their treatment.

    These are just some of the reasons to make exercise a regular part of your life. The next time you see an older person who represents where you DON’T want to be when you are that age, burn that image into your mind and recall it every time you are thinking about choosing the couch over your daily walk or run.

    How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries

    March 27th, 2015

    Everyone wants to stay safe, inside the gym and out. Sheila Kalas, founder and owner of Fitness Plus, gave some safety tips to news anchor Lauren Gawthrop during a segment of “Good Day Kentucky” (GDK) on Thursday, March 27, 2015.

    First of all, the quest to be in perfect shape can make people push themselves too hard. “Let’s get a reality check when we’re trying to be healthy,” Sheila said.

    Three areas in particular that can easily be injured in the gym are the shoulder, low back and knees. These injuries are often caused by doing too much and using incorrect form. The prevention? Don’t attempt to do too much, whether working out in the gym or going about your day-to-day activities. Use the correct form. An educated personal trainer is a great resource.

    The shoulder is a delicate joint. Lifting heavy weights way up over your head isn’t the best way to go, especially as we age.

    Low back.
    Back pain is common for many people, mainly because we sit too much at the computer and in the car. A lot of muscles in the front of the body are strong, but also tight. Muscles are weak and overstretched in the back.

    Another vulnerable joint, knees can “wear out” with aging, especially due to weak hips and backside. This surprises a lot of people, but strengthening the hips and the gluteus maximus muscles help protect the knees.

    Watch Lauren’s GDK interview with Sheila:

    Previous GDK interview:
    How to Choose a Personal Trainer

    Responsibility Plan

    March 4th, 2015

    by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

    Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYWhen you achieve the goal of accepting total personal responsibility for your health and fitness, you reap rewards.

    The first step of accepting responsibility for your health and fitness is the most important. You must admit it: admit that you and only you are responsible for your wellness. This is simple, but not always easy. We are taught to look elsewhere and place blame.

    We blame the fast food industry, the advertising industry, for “making” us eat too much junk food. We blame our genetics for our less-than-perfect bodies and for making it impossible to lose weight. We blame our busy lives for never having the time to work out. We even blame our age. If I were only younger I could work out, and on and on.

    1. Stopping the blame game is the first step. Stop looking around at other people and other things and using them as excuses to stay unfit, overweight and unhealthy. Once you realize that you have the power to make some positive changes in your life to improve your health and fitness, you will. Keep making excuses and saying that it can’t be done, and you will stay exactly where you are.

    Once you have given yourself permission to be in control, you are on your way. So now what?

    2. Prioritizing is a great next step. Make a prioritized list of what, in terms of improving health and fitness, you want to do. These priorities should be personal to you, but in step with the goal of improving health and fitness. They should also be specific. A priority like “looking better” is too general and can easily fall out of the health and fitness vein. You can change your hairstyle and look better, but not have improved your health at all.

    Common priorities are things like increase cardiovascular fitness, lower cholesterol, improve bone density, reduce back pain, lose weight. Put some thought into your priorities. They are the key to the direction that your journey towards improved health and fitness will take.

    Once you have your list of health/fitness priorities, then it is time to make some goals.

    3. Any goal is more likely to be achieved if it is based on something that is truly important to you. The priority list helps assure you that the goals are based on things you have identified as being important to you. Goals should also be specific. If one of your priorities is to lose weight, then your goal should say how much and in how much time. You also might have a goal to eat two pieces of fruit a day, instead of high calorie snacks, to help you lose weight; you may have a goal of playing a back pain-free round of golf or lowering your cholesterol by 20 points. Try to make at least one goal for each priority.

    Once you have established goals, it is a good idea to put them away for a few days and then review them with a fresh mind. Sometimes you get a little excited when making goals and they drift into the “unattainable” category. This is not good. Goals must be reasonable and attainable. The purpose of goals is to motivate. Establishing unattainable goals with have the opposite effect: it will demoralize you into quitting. Goals should fit your ability and your life. Make sure, when setting goals, you take into account things like work, family, time, budget.

    When you have a list of goals that you know are reasonable, attainable (with work, of course), it’s time to make a plan.

    4. It is at this stage that you can look to others to help you without feeling like you are giving the responsibility to someone else. When you seek the help of someone else for a plan, e.g., a trainer, a nutritionist or walking partner, AFTER you have established your own priorities and goals, it is an extension of personal responsibility, not a substitute for it.

    There is nothing wrong or weak about seeking help to succeed. In fact, this increases your chance for success. Making a plan that will result in reaching your goals requires you to identify the areas in which you need help. You may have a perfectly reasonable goal, such as in increase your core strength, but have no idea how to do it. This does not mean it is a bad goal, it just means that you need help to achieve it. The help in this instance is education and/or instruction.

    It is a good plan to hire a qualified trainer to educate you in this area so you can reach your goal. Your plan has to help you reach the goals you have set forth. Your plan may require you to go to a gym, get up earlier to walk before work, change your shopping and eating out habits, among others.

    A plan is essential. Don’t just make priorities and goals with no thought of how you are going to achieve them. Goals alone don’t mean anything, it’s how you plan to achieve them that’s important.

    5. The last step is simple. Just do it. Put your plan into action. If you have taken the time to follow these steps, then this should be the easy part. Try to remember that the plan you are about to start is something that you designed, based on your life’s priorities.

    You are not doing what someone else told you you need to do. You are doing what you decided you need to do. It is always much easier to work on something for yourself than for someone else. This is your plan, so take pride in it, enjoy it and reap the benefits of its brilliant design.

    How to Choose a Personal Trainer

    February 4th, 2015

    Sheila Kalas, founder and owner of Fitness Plus, was interviewed on WTVQ-TV on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. News anchor Lauren Gawthrop asked Sheila about personal training.

    Sheila wanted consumers to know that personal trainers are not required to have a license in Kentucky. Massage therapists and hairdressers have to have a license, but not personal trainers.

    “You, the consumer, have to understand how to vet that out,” Sheila said. People feel safe about the word “certified,” but it really doesn’t mean much in and of itself.

    Certification is not a substitute for education. Undergraduate and graduate degrees in exercise science are great. “Vocational schools for personal trainers are the wave of the future,” Sheila said. Ask any potential personal trainer about their education and experience.

    “I should let you question me,” Sheila said. A free consultation is standard in the business. As the consumer, don’t feel intimidated about asking questions. A good personal trainer won’t be offended at all.

    Watch Lauren’s interview with Sheila:


    January 6th, 2015

    by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

    Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYMost of us have lives that we feel are too busy; we never seem to have the time to finish all the items on our list. So how could we possibly add exercise to our life? Good question.

    I cannot argue with the fact that most people are unbelievably busy or that trying to find 30-60 minutes to work out a few days a week can look like an impossible goal.

    However, I also know that it is something we have to do.

    Not liking exercise, not having the time for exercise, not having exercise as part of your core value system are all valid reasons for not doing it—except for the fact that you still HAVE to.

    There is no substitute for exercise, period. It doesn’t matter if you need to lose weight or not, if you are healthy or not, if you are athletic or not, or what age you are; you still have to exercise.

    Paying your taxes, taking out the garbage, brushing your teeth, doing your laundry; these are some of things that, as adults, we do, even if we don’t like them. We FIND time to do these things, because we know there are negative consequences if we don’t.

    If you love exercise, you won’t put it in the same category as these tedious tasks, but most people do not like exercise. If you don’t, you need to put this in the category of things you don’t like but that you do anyway because you have to, and because of the negative consequences of not doing it.

    Maybe the consequences of not exercising are not abrupt enough to get you to action. Maybe you can’t connect the dots of all the medications you take, the extra weight you are carrying around and how lousy you feel, with the fact that you’re not exercising enough. Maybe you don’t care about dying earlier than you should or being completely dependent on others during the last decade of your life because your body has failed you, but the doctors are still keeping alive. I don’t know, but it worries me.

    The inactivity of the citizens of this country and the epidemic of obesity is frightening to me. My goal, as a wellness professional, is to try to “open the eyes” of as many people as I can to the idea that moderate, consistent exercise must be part of your life and that all responsible adults should have this as part of their “have to” list of things to be done.

    Again, I understand, sympathize and empathize with all who feel too busy to add exercise to your life. If it was easy to get yourself to exercise as much as you should, then there would be little need for the field of personal training (which happens to be one of the fastest-growing professions in our country). It is difficult to overcome inertia and work out; it is difficult to see the time in your busy life it takes; it is difficult to make yet another commitment in your busy life… but you have to.

    Please start from this premise: you HAVE to exercise. Start from there and then figure out how you can do it. For many, hiring a personal trainer, making the appointment and putting it in your calendar is the only way it happens. For others, putting together a group of friends to walk with on a daily basis is what works for them. It doesn’t matter how you do it, you just have to do it.

    Make a different resolution this year regarding exercise. Don’t make a resolution to DO exercise; make a resolution to realize that you have to do it and that you are going to put it on your list of “have to do, even if I don’t like to do” list and that it has to stay on that list.

    Holiday Workouts and Diets

    November 26th, 2014

    by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

    Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYWell, once again the holiday season has descended upon us . . . let the chaos begin! No matter how much we try to stay calm and collected, we get caught up in the craziness. Just trying to keep your sanity is a challenge, much less your workout routine. And your diet? Well, most of us completely give up on that.

    I’m not going to tell you that I have some magic answer to keep you perfectly on track with your diet and exercise program. What I am going to tell you is that it is OK not to be perfect during the holiday season. I want to remind you that life is not always black or white; often there is a large gray area. Try to put your exercise and diet routine into that gray area during this time of year. Take a little time to mentally prepare yourself that you are going to get out of your routine over the next several weeks. That doesn’t mean that your routine has to be completely abandoned, or that you cannot return to your routine once the madness has stopped. Just being prepared for what is to come is a big help. There are also a few tips I can give you to try and help you find that gray area.

    First, remember that the commodity that you are short on most during this time of year is time. Unfortunately, no one has figured out how to put a few more hours in a day, so you have to use the 24 you have wisely. Giving yourself permission to shorten your normal exercise routine is a great way to “go gray.” Instead of skipping your normal walk that takes you an hour, give yourself permission to take a more intense 20 minute walk instead. Also, if you are a walker, you might want to do that walk in your street clothes, instead of taking the time to change into workout clothes. Walking for just 20 minutes outside in the cold won’t cause you to sweat enough that you would have to change clothes. If you are a runner, a 20-minute hard run 2 or 3 times a week will help you maintain your fitness level through the holidays. True, you do not burn as many calories walking or running only 20 minutes as compared to 60, but you can stay in shape and not completely fall out of your cardiovascular routine. It is much easier to just increase your workout time in January than it is to start from scratch after a six-week layoff.

    Shortening your workout routine can work for strength training too. If you work with a trainer, try to keep your appointments, but let them know that you might need to accelerate the workout and get out in less time than normal. A good trainer can cut your routine time by 25% without sacrificing quality. They can cut the workout time by 50%, if necessary, but they will have to eliminate some exercises. They should know what can afford to be cut for a few weeks without decreasing your overall strength level too much.

    If you work out on your own, you may want to give yourself permission to only do exercises for your large muscles (back, chest and legs) and skip your small muscles (shoulder, biceps and triceps). I do not recommend skipping your abdominal exercises, but they can be done anytime—just before bed or after you get in from a walk or run are good choices.

    The main message for your workout program is that “something is better than nothing.” You will not just maintain the fitness you have worked so hard to build throughout the year, but you will feel better mentally. Every time you complete even the smallest workout you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This good feeling promotes the release of endorphins, which can improve your ability to handle stress, and we all know we can use all the help we can get this time of year with stress management.

    Now, on to our diet. I know it sounds impossible, but you can make it through this season without putting on the average 7-12 pounds that most Americans do. How? Find the gray area!

    It’s the same principle that you use for maintaining your workouts. Mentally prepare yourself and give yourself permission. It is a fact that you will be out of your normal eating routine. Prepare for it. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making a promise not to deviate from your diet at all. This is a promise that you cannot keep. Give yourself permission to deviate, but in a controlled manner. Never go to the holiday cocktail party telling yourself that you will only drink water and not eat anything “bad.” Give yourself permission, but in a controlled manner. For example, tell yourself that you will have 2 drinks, but ones only made with non-caloric mixers (soda or water), and that you can eat whatever goodies you can fit on one cocktail napkin. Not that this has to be everyone’s plan, but you get the point. Give yourself some reasonable boundaries that won’t leave you feeling so deprived that you wind up eating a bag of cookies when you get home. FIND THE GRAY!

    These are just a few suggestions, and they certainly are not written in stone as “the” only way. What I want you to realize is that you can go through the holidays and not get to January and have to completely start over. The key is planning and accepting the realities of what lies ahead. I believe you can do this. Good luck and warm wishes.