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.

The Pain of Inactivity

November 11th, 2014

by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYMost of us have experienced the overwhelming desire to stay in bed after the alarm goes off, especially if it’s a Monday morning. But most of us, very quickly, connect the dots and realize that if we don’t get out of bed and get going, there will be serious consequences. Whether it’s work or family obligations, we realize that we don’t have the option of just lying around day after day doing nothing. We get up and accept the responsibility of performing the tasks that are not necessarily pleasant all of the time, but are necessary for our lives to run smoothly. We go to work, take out the trash, brush our teeth, do our laundry, feed ourselves, etc.

However, this “connect the dots” scenario does not seem to work when it comes to dealing with the personal responsibility of exercise. When it comes to exercise, most people rationalize that doing nothing feels better. They do not connect the dots that show that regular inactivity is what leads to a low level of energy, poor health, and growing waistlines. It is much easier to blame life for these unpleasant things instead of blaming the choices you make.

As an exercise professional, one of my most important jobs is to help my clients learn to feel lousy when they don’t exercise. It may sound strange, but they must learn this if there is any hope of them becoming a regular, self-motivated exerciser. They have to connect the dots that it is inactivity that hurts their health and is painful to their body, not exercise.

It is a fact that exercise does cause mild, temporary discomfort. You do notice it when you are exercising; it does feel different than lying on the couch. This feeling is a major deterrent to most people. As motivational speaker Tony Robbins indicates, avoidance of pain is a stronger motivator than the seeking of pleasure. This is why people let the pain and discomfort of exercise rule their choices when it comes to working out. They rationalize that NOT going to the gym makes them feel better at that moment. Yet the very discomfort they want to avoid is going to be multiplied before they know it.

Accepting the personal responsibility that it is you and only you that holds yourself back and keeps you from engaging in a healthy lifestyle is the most important key to unlocking the door to better health. Once you accept this responsibility (which people hate to do), you can begin to move forward.

Helping you get to this place of acceptance is one of the primary roles of a good personal trainer. If you are working with a trainer and you don’t feel like they are helping you accept your role in your exercise program, but instead are just leading you around by the nose, telling you what to do without any explanation of why it is important, then you might be working with the wrong trainer.

You have to do more than “just do it”; you have to understand WHY you are doing it and WHAT is it that is happening inside your body while you are doing it. I firmly believe that the more a person knows and understands about the exercise they are doing, the more likely they are to continue doing it.

An uneducated, uninformed person will soon quit their exercise program. Humans do not engage in things for no reason—there has to be some benefit, some reason to continue. A good trainer should provide you this information.

This a perfect time of the year to sit down and re-evaluate your life, in regards to exercise and health. Take a look at yourself. Is inactivity prevalent in your life? If so, do you realize the consequences of this?

If you are exercising, do you feel good about your program?

Do you think it is giving you what you need to progress through the rest of your life in the healthiest way possible?

Do you feel engaged and connected with your exercise program?

Do you understand your exercise program? Or are you just going through the motions?

Look at yourself, your life, your motivations and rationalizations. Take stock and responsibility in your own life, your own health. Accept the fact that it is you who are in control of how you take care of yourself and your body. Remember that it is inactivity that’s painful, not exercise.

If you feel that you are not where you need to be in regards to an exercise program, then get going! Take the responsibility to get this very important part of your life up and running. Take charge of your health and wellness. It’s a great feeling.

Check out the bios of our Fitness Plus personal trainers and feel free to call us at 859.269.9280.

Simplify Your Workouts With Science

October 5th, 2014

by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYBring up the word “science” in a conversation and often people get a funny look on their face. It is one of those subjects that people often fear. They think that is too difficult to grasp and often avoid it. This fear causes people to veer away from the “scientific” explanation and choose instead the “simple” one.

Unfortunately, when it comes to fitness, this concept is incorrect. In the world of exercise, it is science that makes it simple. If you familiarize yourself with the science behind the exercise (which is exactly what an exercise physiologist does), you can clearly see through all the hype and confusing choices that flood the commercial fitness marketplace. Science is the best way to answer some of the most commonly asked fitness questions. Here are just a few examples:

Question 1: What type of aerobic exercise is best?

The hype says that someone is always inventing THE aerobic workout machine, THE aerobic class. One day it’s kickboxing; the next, step aerobics; the next, the elliptical trainer; then the recumbent bicycle, and on and on. So what do you do? What choice is best?

Science clears this right up. Science has a clear definition of what constitutes aerobic exercise. There are very clear requirements for an exercise to be considered aerobic and give you the cardiovascular training and fat-burning results you want. Any exercise that meets these criteria is a good choice for your aerobic exercise. Forget the hype and pick the exercise that meets the requirements and is one that you can see yourself participating in.

In order for an exercise to be considered aerobic, it must:

1. Use large muscle masses, e.g., legs, back or chest muscles.
2. Be rhythmical (not a start-and-stop activity).
3. Elevate your heart rate above 60% of your resting heart rate.
4. Sustain that elevated heart rate for at least 20 minutes.

Question 2: How hard should I work out?

The hype most often says “no pain, no gain.” The marketplace makes it clear that the harder you work the leaner and prettier you are going to get. The commercials of young lean bodies working hard are often so discouraging to the average person that they don’t even try to start exercising. The impression is that you have to be in shape just to get in shape.

Science eases some of this pressure. While it is true that exercise is more difficult for those who are just beginning to exercise, science tells us that, to get the health benefits of exercise, the “no pain, no gain” attitude is not needed. The best scientific information supporting this came from a study that was released in 2000 (Blair, et al.). This study followed thousands of people for many years and analyzed their exercise habits and how they related to early mortality. The study found that people who were “highly” fit and worked at a very high intensity did have a lower incidence of early mortality than their “unfit” counterparts. However, the early mortality rate of the “highly” fit individuals was statistically insignificant from the “moderately” fit individuals (those who walked 30 minutes 5 times a week). This means that moderate exercise is all you need to provide excellent health benefits. So, relax and enjoy a nice walk in the neighborhood.

Question 3: What type of strength training routine is best?

The hype on this subject changes with the wind. Just when you think that light weights and many repetitions is it, they change and start touting “super slow” reps with massive weight. It changes about every 5 years. If you don’t like what they’re saying now, just wait a few years and it will change. Or you could follow science.

Science reminds us that your muscles don’t care how much weight you lift, how many times you lift it, if you lift pretty chrome dumbbells or ugly bags of sand. All your muscles know is when they get tired. When your muscles are pushed to the point of fatigue on a regular basis, your body will respond by making that muscle stronger. This is called the “principle of overload.” If you consistently overload the muscle it will respond. How you want to get the muscle tired is up to you; it is just the means to the end (fatigue). Science actually can save you some time and prevent you from injury, if you listen. Science recommends that you lift a weight between 8-15 times. These numbers are not the only means, but it makes sense that if you can’t lift a weight at least 8 times, it’s probably too heavy for you and could hurt you. Consequently, if you lift a weight 15 times and you are not fatigued yet, you are spending too much time on one exercise! Keep it simple and you’ll do fine.

Question 4: What diet is best to lose weight?

Now that’s an interesting question. So many choices; where do I begin? The hype goes on and on. Every day there is a new “can’t miss” diet. You know them all. You’ve seen them come and go over the years, so what’s the answer?

Science, again, cuts through the hype and simplifies the answer. The best diet is the one that results in a negative caloric balance, or burning more calories than you eat. You can eat anything and lose weight as long as the calories you are putting in your body are less than the calories you are burning. That’s it! There is no further explanation needed. Forget your blood type and no fruit before noon, or no potatoes, extra bacon, green tea with lemon, and so on. JUST MOVE MORE AND EAT LESS.

Now, when it comes to nutrition and health what you eat does make a difference. Although you could lose weight eating only french fries, it would not be healthy. But the point is, keep it simple and rely on scientific facts.

I could continue to shoot down hype with science and keep making exercise and fitness easier and easier for you, but I think you get the point. Most of these examples are common sense. Most of us know when we are hearing hype, but fall victim to it sometimes out of desperation, hope and laziness. I encourage you to be honest with yourself and realize that there is no substitute for “just doing it.” Remember, science can make the seemingly daunting task of regular exercise easier, not harder. Forget the hype, and stick with science.

Rugged Red Trail Half-Marathon

September 9th, 2014

The inaugural Rugged Red half-marathon was held on Sept. 6, 2014, at Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was a hot and muggy Saturday. And muddy, thanks to a previous rainy week. Yep, Mother Nature laid it on. The trail run had all manner of hills and slopes, twists and turns, ascents and descents, rocks and trees, creek beds and breathtaking views.

The day started at 5:30 a.m. for the many volunteers (yay, volunteers, you are always awesome people!), including Fitness Plus clients Meribeth Gaines, Debbie James, Sarah Tedford and Julia Fain. FP client Dee Werline’s niece, Baylee, came in from North Carolina to compete in the race. At 8 a.m. the first wave of runners took to the course. Of 380 people who signed up, 310 finished.

For first-time race director (and FP personal trainer) Stephanie Lovely, the day was pretty spectacular. She has worked races on the volunteer side quite a few times before. Being the actual director is like being “vice president in charge of every possible detail,” similar to the way a TV producer of a football game is. Steph planned the half-marathon course itself, dealt with all the logistics, including medals, and anything else race-related that came up.

“Seeing the runners come across the line and having a good time, that was rewarding,” she said. “They’re loving something I created and that I love too.”

Although she couldn’t compete in the Rugged Red on race day itself, Steph ran that 13.1-mile rugged course many times over the past year. Running trails has always been her favorite kind of running. She was brought into the Rugged Red project in August 2013 to plan the event for September 2014. She worked with Joe Bowen, who had the idea in the first place to bring a sporting event to the area to increase tourism.

Because of the heat and humidity, there were some runners who got a little overheated. Search & Rescue teams from Wolfe, Powell and Menifee counties were on hand to help anyone who needed it, from bee stings to a turned ankle to heat exhaustion. “Medical treatment is a lot trickier in the trails of a national forest,” Stephanie said.

With almost a mile of gained elevation throughout the course, running times were slower for the Rugged Red trail half-marathon than they would be for other half-marathons. But it’s not so much about the finishing time as the experience itself. Yes, there are plans to have the 2nd annual Rugged Red in the fall of 2015.

Steph Lovely and Rene Sepulveda

Steph Lovely, Rugged Red race director, and Rene Sepulveda, her college coach who came in from California to run the race. He also came in fifth place.