Get Leaner By Taking Time Off From The Gym

The human body is an amazing machine.  It is capable of putting up with and even thriving in our modern world that is often less than ideal. We get on just fine, despite our modern lifestyle fraught with physically compromised positions such as sitting (at a desk, in the car/bus, on the couch), ingesting harmful chemicals in our foods, and breathing in toxic fumes in the atmosphere.  Despite our best efforts, we all are subject to these environmental toxins. Thankfully, we can mitigate the detrimental effects of these stressors by eating minimally processed foods, standing as much as possible, and having a consistent movement practice through exercise.

However, as Americans, we live in a culture where “more is better.”  We believe in a world where super-sized effort equals super-sized results.  ”If 3-4 workouts a week is good for me, why wouldn’t 6-7 be even better?” Unfortunately, there is a point of diminishing returns.  A point where 10x effort does not equal 10x return.  So once you reach that point, what can you do?  The answer lies in one of Unite’s core values: train smarter, not harder. 

This is accomplished through the smart programming that puts an emphasis on periodization, and making sure to change things up regularly. But just as importantly, as someone who has trained consistently at Unite for 7, going on 8 years, I’ve come to value the importance of rest and recovery.  If you are someone who feels guilty that you “only” made it in to workout 5 times this past week, I have great news for you: No matter what your goals are, you will bring yourself closer to them if you take some more time off in between workouts.

R&R for Fat Loss

“I’ve increased the amount of workouts I do each week, and I’m still fat!”
Constantly hitting the gym on a daily basis in an attempt to lose weight is a recipe for frustration and self-sabotage.  Over time you reach an overtrained state, where fat loss is nearly impossible due to adrenal fatigue, which will result in excess food cravings, a lack of energy, and poor mood.  We’ve said it before, but you will see much better results if you allow your body to rest, eat nutritionally dense foods, and treat yourself well. Unfortunately it takes a ton of exercise (more than you have time for) to burn off just a little bit of that unhealthy food you just ate.

R&R for Injury Prevention

“I work out almost every day and I’m starting to feel strange aches and pains”
In today’s world of high intensity exercise, we are able to push our bodies to the limits.  Push to the limits one day, and your body will be able to bounce back.  Do it over and over again over the course of weeks, months, or even years will end in disaster in the form of a devastating injury.  Recovery will allow the muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons to repair and be stronger than ever.  But without rest, you are taxing all of the systems that are designed to keep you moving to the point where something will eventually break. For those of you who are addicted to high intensity workouts and simply just love to move your body every day, just think of the cost. If you get hurt you will be out of commission for months or even life. Try going for long walks, take a restorative yoga class or simply just stretch at home and you can feel good about doing something with your body that day.

R&R for Improved Performance

“I haven’t been able to run as fast or lift as heavy as I used to.”
Training in and of itself does not make you stronger.  In actuality it is very destructive to your body.  It is the time in between workouts, where the muscle fibers are repaired that you realize the strength gains and benefits of exercise.  If you find yourself losing strength, speed, or have been stagnant in your gains, take some time to allow the body to rebuild itself, and you’ll be back on track before you know it.

How to maximize your recovery: or, Making the most of your down time

The body is more equipped to go from 0-60 much better than it is to go from 60-0. Most of your brain is set up this way for arousal, survival. It’s a simple evolutionary response.  Back in the caveman days, if you came up on an angry sabertooth tiger, you wouldn’t have time to “get loose” and warm up before you start your 100% sprint to safety.  You have to go, and you have to go NOW.

Because it was not an absolute necessity for survival, there are fewer triggers that send us into sedation, down-regulation, the drousal state. There are ways that you can create the natural de-stimulation necessary to create the environment for relaxation, and in turn recovery to occur.



Compression socks have been proven to improve recovery times in athletes, by temporarily improving blood flow, thus flushing out the muscles.  Compression is a great tool to help decrease the amount of recovery time needed between workouts, similar to the ice bath. Another, cheaper way to get a similar result is to lie down with your legs elevated over your heart.  This restricts the flow of blood to the lower body, turning down the sympathetic response.







Foam Rolling

When was the last time you went directly from a deep tissue massage to feeling like you wanted to immediately run a 10k?  It doesn’t happen, because deep touch creates condition of relaxation.  Obviously not all of us can afford a deep tissue massage every day, so that’s where foam rolling and self-massage comes in.  Using a variety of tools and techniques, you can induce that same feeling you get after a massage.




Improve Your Sleep Quality

Sleeping more is not always an option.  In fact, sleeping more can be detrimental in some cases.  Ever feel extra drowsy after sleeping in?  The key is to improve the quality, and increase the amount of time you reach deep sleep.  Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room.  Any stimulus to any of your “on-switches” will turn into arousal and diminished sleep quality. If you are unable to black out your room, wear a sleep mask, and ear plugs.  I’ve noticed much better sleep after getting a sleep mask through increased dreams, and feeling more refreshed in the morning.


Spread your water intake out throughout the day.  Levels of hydration needed are different for everyone, but a good rule of thumb is to take your bodyweight, divide by 2, and that is how many ounces you should drink per day.

For more information on how to do of these suggestions, our coaches are highly trained at helping you implement a plan of action. Email to set up an Assessment

-Coach Mackie

Trainer’s Secrets to Staying Fit During & After Pregnancy

-Frequently Asked Questions-


Q.  I’m worried about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy and getting back into shape after I deliver.  What is the best way to maintain a healthy weight during and bounce back after?


For every woman there is a “normal” range of prenatal weight gain that is optimal for the baby’s development.  That range depends on several factors and you should discuss this with your doctor so he or she can make the most accurate estimate for you.  That said, the best way to stay within your personal range of weight gain while staying in the best shape possible is to work out on a regular. consistent basis throughout your entire pregnancy.  Yes, even into your final week!  


Your prenatal fitness routine should not be all that different than your pre-pregnancy routine, unless you were not exercising at all.  It is essential that you start as soon as possible with clearance by your doctor.  I have had several prenatal personal training clients who started in their sixth-or-so week and who made strength gains and improvements to their core strength and stability early on.  By the time the 3rd trimester came, they were handling walking lunges, planks and weight lifting better than when they started.  


What you do during your pregnancy does make a big difference in how easily and quickly you recover from delivery and “bounce back” physically.  Even mentally and emotionally, there are published studies that support the notion that regular prenatal exercise has a moderating affect on depression and body image during and after pregnancy.  You have control over how you feel about yourself and exercise is one way to assert that control.  So, if you’re pregnant and worried about weight gain and getting out of shape, all signs point to the gym or getting outside for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise!  Better yet, join a class or sign up with a certified prenatal personal trainer.  Again, make sure you check with your doctor before starting a new and continuing with your current fitness program.  


Q. Why should I start a prenatal fitness program and how can I stay motivated when I’m feeling tired, nauseated or achey?

This is the best time to start for many reasons!  Published research continues to support that regular exercise during pregnancy keeps both mama and baby happy and healthy.  Here is a sampling of possible benefits of working out regularly during your pregnancy: 


  • Less physical discomfort (reduced chance of constipation, hemorrhoids, bloating, swelling, leg cramps – not fun!)
  • Improved self-image, mood and posture
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Better muscle tone, strength and endurance
  • Less overall body fat
  • Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduced risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Less time in the pushing phase of delivery
  • Lower incidence of Caesarean section birth
  • Fewer obstetric interventions (vacuum extraction, forceps)


The benefits don’t stop with you, mom.  Babies born to mothers who exercised regularly throughout pregnancy tend to be leaner (lower body fat, not smaller), better self-soothers (less cranky and less likely to have colic) and have higher general intelligence scores and better oral language skills all the way to age 5.


The two best ways to stay motivated to continue working out when you’re not feeling “100%” (and, by the way, it’s okay to have those days!) are to sign up for a weekly class and to consult with a certified prenatal personal trainer to help you create a realistic and safe program.  We all need accountability partners in our lives to create sustainable healthy habits and this is an especially important time for you to be setting yourself up for success.  It is also helpful to rely on an instructor to guide you through a workout with modifications depending on any symptoms you might be feeling that day. 


2. How do I know when to stop during a workout so that I don’t harm myself or my baby?


This is such an important question – one that I hear many times over during the course of my

clients’ pregnancies – and yet the answer is actually very simple:


Listen to your body, your doctor and your trainer!  With these “experts” keeping you in check,

you won’t overdo it at the gym.  I promise.  A couple of easy ways to keep your heart rate, body temperature and your baby bump happily humming along:


1. The Talk Test. While pushing it at the gym, make sure you feel like you could keep up a conversation with minimal effort.  This doesn’t mean you can’t huff and puff a little, but not to the point where you feel faint or dizzy.  Passing the talk test will ensure that you are working out in a safe cardio zone. 


2. Too hot? Breaking a sweat will be no sweat when you’re pregnant, thanks to a slightly raised core body temperature.  So, take the cardio down a notch to the point that you feel warmer than usual but not heating up to the point of begging someone to give you the Ice Bucket Challenge.  And, as Beyonce said, “a little sweating ain’t never hurt nobody.”  This is also true during pregnancy.  But, if you’re veering towards over-heated, slow down, sip some cold water and take a short rest. 


Q.  How do I know which aches and pains are normal and which are a sign that something is wrong?

 The nine months of pregnancy are a time of constant transformation inside and out.  With that said, you’ll probably feel different day to day, week to week, month to month.  How that impacts your fitness routine will have a lot to do with you paying close attention to your body’s signals.  In other words, as long as you feel good, keep on moving.  When your body sends a signal that doesn’t feel good, stop and ask yourself: Where exactly am I feeling pain?  Is this a new pain?  Did my doctor warn me about this pain?  I also encourage you to be proactive with your doctor to get answers as well as consult with a certified prenatal trainer or a physical therapist when you’re not sure if working out is safe when you’re feeling “off” in any way. 

 Here are some very common symptoms and conditions that you should be aware of when you’re working out:

 S.I. Joint Pain: Where is it? Tailbone or upper section of the Glutes. What to do? Avoid moves that make it worse and try water-based workouts if the problem continues. 

Low Back Pain: What to do? A few things: strengthen the core, get into the water for workouts and focus on good pregnancy posture during your workouts

Round Ligament Pain: Where is it? Pain or cramping along either side of the pelvis. What to do?

Perfectly safe to work around this pain while avoiding any movements that make it worse.

Preeclampsia: What is it?  Combination of chronic or gestational high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Severe cases of preeclampsia may be accompanied by headaches; vision problems; belly pain; or sudden swelling in the hands, legs and/or face.  What to do? If you have any of these symptoms, reach out to your doctor right away.  Your doc will probably check for signs of preeclampsia during your regular visits as well.  In most cases, if you are diagnosed it will be recommended that you stop exercising.

Q. What are the best prenatal core exercises?

There are lots of awesome core moves that can still be done during pregnancy!  First, try practicing belly breathing and kegels.  Then, try some of my favorites: planks, pelvic tilts and standing knee lifts (think of it as a standing crunch!).  Sit-ups, twisting ab exercises (think bicycles) and lying on your back for leg lifts should be avoided, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Q. How soon after delivery can I return to working out?

Most doctors will give clearance for exercise somewhere between the 8th & 12th week postpartum, but it will depend entirely on your unique delivery and recovery process.  No matter when you are ready to get back to the gym, it is important to follow these 4 steps to bouncing back.  Above all, enjoy your beautiful baby and try to be kind and compassionate with yourself as you transition through the postpartum period.  Remember: your body is amazingly resilient if you allow it to be.  Give it time to heal and balance your burning desire to “bounce back” with patience and realistic goals.  Working with a trainer, coach or a supportive group of fellow mamas during this transition period can help you do that.  











Which Obstacle Race is Worth Your Money?

The Ultimate Obstacle Race Review:

Several years ago I overheard a couple guys at the gym describing a race they just signed up for that involved military style obstacles, mud and barbed wire. I couldn’t wait to find out what this ridiculousness was and how I could sign up! Racing was fairly new to me, but it was already becoming something I was feeling a little bored with. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sense of accomplishment when I shave off a few seconds per mile, run a new course or even set a personal record. But I wanted to run for more than the possibility of saying “I beat you.”

Enter the obstacle and mud runs.

I’ve been hooked since my first introduction to this type of race, where the courses are always unpredictable and the only bragging rights earned are “I survived.” If you’re like me and the other 2 million Americans already competing in obstacle and mud events (, 2013) you already know there is a plethora of choices and they aren’t cheap! How do you pick from the dozens that are out there?  From the dirtiest to the most extreme, I’ve compiled my favorites thus far.

This is your guide to finding the best fit for you.

The Tough Mudder

My first experience deserves the first spot on the list.
Gotta love the that the founders sold tickets before building the first obstacle. With the all or nothing attitude and an overwhelming response of the first Mudders, the Tough Mudder paved the way for all the others and helped to spark the popularity of this sport.

This one is all about fun, camaraderie and mud. There are no official times given, although you are welcome to submit a time to be considered for the Ultimate Tough Mudder. Many people are unable to get through (or over, under or around) obstacles alone, so you’ll find everyone helping each other out. Obstacles include 10 foot walls, tunnels and mud. Lots of mud. I’ve never been dirtier or muddier in my life. There’s dirt, thick mud, muddy water, and just plain old dirty water.

They also took the concept of “tough” one step further. As if cold water isn’t bad enough, they added ice cubes. Smoke bombs. Habanero peppers. 10,000 volt wires. 10-12 miles of unpredictable terrain.

For: Masochistic-long-distance-fun-runners (I know, 12 miles is not even a half marathon, but you could be out there for 3-4 hours).
Not For: Competitive runners(they say it’s not a race, but a team building event), the impatient (be ready to wait in line at obstacles), or those that want to stay clean.
Sept 27 & 28, Gerrardstown WV, 12 miles (more events online)

Race Entry $109-189, Spectator Fee $20, Bag Drop $10, Parking Fee – Yes

Dirt Factor – 10/10
Fun Factor – 8/10
Competitive – 2/10
Challenge – 3/10
Cost per mile – $10-$18 (factor additional costs in parking and bag drop)

The Unite Fitness Decathlon

The UFD was born from my very own Unite team. It was our desire to design an event that challenged what most people do and how most people train at the gym. We loved the competitive nature of regular runs but felt they lacked the challenges to strength, power and endurance. Inspired by the many mud and obstacle runs we’ve done (and love!) we wanted to combine a competitive run with competitive fitness style events while keeping the ridiculous (and sometime questionable safety) obstacles and mud to a minimum.

10 fitness events you can actually train for in a gym, just enough obstacles to be fun, and a 10k (6.2 mile) trail run creates the perfect balance for competitive athletes looking for the next big thing in racing. What you might imagine a Mudder is except the obstacles are fitness events such as thrusters, lunges, box jumps, rows and burpees using equipment like dumbbells, ropes, sandbags, tires and suspension trainers for reps or distance.  It’s a race for all level athletes: competitive runners will appreciate the ability to compete without having to wait. Race waves are tiered to then allow all level (“completion”) runners who just want to come out and have fun but not feel the pressure of being judged at events or being scored for time. Relay Teams finish out the final waves.

The UFD welcomes spectators of all ages to attend as there are plenty of family friendly activities including water balloons, mini train rides, farm animals, live DJ, food, beer and ice cream. Free parking and free entry to the party for all!

For: Cross-trainers (runners who lift, lifters who run) looking forward to 60-90 minutes of high intensity activity, competitors looking for the next big thing, and spectators who don’t want to be “taxed” just to cheer their friends on.
Not for: Runners who just want an excuse to get really muddy.  Athletes not up for a challenge, not ready to try something new, or  afraid of heights (there’s a 40 foot vertical net to climb).
October 11th, Newton PA, 6 miles
Race Entry $65-95, Spectator Fee – No, Bag Drop fee – No, Beer – Free!

Dirt Factor – 3/10
Fun Factor – 8/10
Competitive – 8/10
Challenge – 10/10
Cost per mile – $10-$15

The Spartan series

I love the idea of creating an event around the legendary Spartan culture of warriors. If you’ve ever seen the movie “300” you know what I’m talking about. From birth to death everything was about developing the warrior spirit and the “never-give-up” attitude. There are multiple lengths (Sprint, Super, Beast) and various terrains, obstacles and events. And spear throwing … where the hell are you going to practice for that event?!

Imagine the Tough Mudder but with a competitive twist, where your time is electronically recorded via a chip. Athletes of all levels are randomly scheduled in the waves, so you’ll still probably be waiting behind others at single-track choke points and some obstacles. Burpees are required at any obstacle you don’t complete. It’s a bit cultish (what isn’t these days) with recruits Training, Eating and Living like a Spartan.

For: Mudders looking for less mud, icy water, peppers or live wires. Must have an aching desire to climb ropes, crawl under barbed wire, carry buckets of rocks and throw spears.
Not for: Burpee haters (Spartan = Burpees) or if you’re not up for a challenge.
Sept 20, Philadelphia PA, 3 miles @Citizens Bank Park – (more events online)

$85-$95, Spectator Fee $20, Bag Drop $10, Parking Fee – Yes

Dirt Factor – 7/10
Fun Factor – 7/10
Competitive – 9/10
Challenge – 6/10
Cost per mile – $28-$32 (Sprint Series)

The Civilian Military Combine

So, what happens when a Crossfit WOD collide with a ski slope (or a NY sidewalk?). A combination of Crossfit style lifts for points per repetition. Then an obstacle run designed for speed. Competitors are scored for a combined total so it’s not always the strongest or the fastest who wins the race.

The CMC  was first conceived in a Crossfit box in Long Island and tested on a ski slope, with huge success, taking runners right from the “PIT” (where in about 8 minutes competitors were completely taxed from all the barbell thrusters, kettlebell swings, box jumps and burpees) to the mountain race with only 2 minutes of rest.

Uphill for 45 minutes? Sure.
Swim through a wave pool? Why not.
Run through an 800 meter pitch black drain pipe with rocks and water? Yup.
The CMC has since developed shorter, flatter races and have added skill levels to enter the “PIT” with. Obstacles vary with the course: vertical walls, mud and tunnels greet mountain climbers while shipping containers, cars and weighted sleds can be found at the urban races. With Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta divisions there’s bound to be a PIT WOD everyone is capable of doing.

For: Crossfitters who want to run and try out some great obstacles. Must have that competitive drive to make it through the PIT.
Not for: Beginners or those that “just want to try it out”.
Sept 13, Newton Square PA, 4 miles (more events online)

Dirt Factor – 6/10
Fun Factor – 6/10
Competitive – 10/10
Challenge – 8/10
Cost per mile – $21-$40



Is Your Trainer Flirting With You?

You’re in a group fitness class and they keep barking at you to stick your butt and your boobs out!? What in the hell? Is your trainer trying to get in your pants? What is your trainer trying to say?

It’s common for people to  have a specific issue with using poor form while performing most exercises. This improper movement pattern is known as  ”rounding the upper back” (or thoracic kyphosis, if we wanna be a smarty pants about it). This postural issue causes massive amounts of stress and pressure on the lower vertebrae and makes you suck at performing really awesome exercises and more importantly, puts you in a position to get hurt.  Not only is this posture issue a problem for performance, but over time you can develop a funky looking hump on your upper back, and i’m pretty sure the hunchback of Notre Dame had a hard time picking up the ladies with that. 

Next time  you’re in a class and you hear these cues, but they don’t mean anything to you, you may want to meet with your trainer one on one to get more insight. Working with a personal trainer  can help this issue disappear forever and guarantee you better results when you are on your own. Not sure you have this issue? If you can answer YES to 1 or more of the following  5 questions I suggest you start working on this ASAP.

  1. Do you feel pain in your lower back EVER?
  2. Do you have a hard time putting your heels down when you squat?
  3. Do your calves feel tight?
  4. Have you ever had shin splints?
  5. Have your knees ever hurt you?

Unite Fitness has an awesome solution for you. We offer a 3 pack of personal training. Just enough sessions to work on the specific issues that causes you from getting the best results out of class. Contact to set up your sessions today. You won’t regret it!

The Perfect 10!

The 10 most common exercises you’ll encounter in a well-planned workout tend to be the most effective at improving strength, mobility, and metabolic rate.  Do these exercises correctly and you’ll reap the rewards.

Think your form is good enough?  Think again.
Don’t really care?  You should.
Done incorrectly, the exercises you’re most familiar with could be the cause of more harm than good.
  • Wondering why your knees/back/shoulders hurt always hurt after a workout? Effective exercise execution should be felt in the muscle, not the joint.
  • Squats should work your glutes, but you never feel them, and your quads kill!
  • Pushups are supposed to strengthen you chest, not irritate your shoulders.
  • Think it’s normal for your back to kill after Spinning or Rowing … it’s not.
  • Stop thinking a run always ends in knee pain.
  • Bend over and touch your toes.  Best stretch for hamstrings? You won’t even stretch them if done wrong.
  • The best back exercise is the one most likely to injure your back if done incorrectly.
 So what can you do?
  1. Squats: Drop your butt below the knees and push through the heels to engage the glutes.
  2. Deadlifts: Bend the hips, not the back, to avoid back pain.
  3. Pushups: Dropping your chest to the floor between your thumbs will force your arms into the correct position … you’ll actually get stronger.
  4. Pullups: Everybody knows to pull the chin over the bar, but don’t forget to pull the chest into the bar and push the shoulder blades down.
  5. Situps: Keep your hips glued to the floor and feel what it’s really like to engage the abs.
  6. Plank: Pull the top of your hip bones toward the bottom rib to avoid making this a back exercise and target the core.
  7. Kettle Bell Swings: Hips and knees should only bend enough to swing the weight between the thighs.
  8. Running: Point your toes in the direction you’re going … forward!
  9. Rowing: Lift the chest at the top of the row to straighten the back out and keep the back safe.
  10. Overhead press: line the arms up with the ears to avoid over working the anterior deltoids.

We are hosting a Perfect 10 Workshop, Saturday December 14th, designed to specifically address the mistakes you’re making and how correct. Here’s a list of the most common exercise mistakes you’re likely to encounter. CLICK HERE TO JOIN IN.

Can Juicing Make You Fat?

Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables has been popular for many years, especially among health buffs.  Some say they have used the power of juice to lose over 100 pounds or to even cure major illnesses such as cancer. It’s no wonder its popularity is growing worldwide and people have started to catch on to the juicing craze.

I wanted to write this article to educate you on the do’s and don’ts of juicing and help you to find your way into this world of juice that will not only support your health internally, but also help you to look better externally.

The title of this article “Will Juicing Make You Fat” is not so much a question, as it is a statement, and I’ll tell you why.  There’s no denying that the juice of fresh fruits and vegetables contains a very high vitamin and mineral content and is fantastic for your health. Ingesting this stuff is like infusing your blood with liquid energy and rocket fuel that your body loves! However juicing is not an adequate replacement for eating whole fruits and vegetables, it should be thought of more as a supplement. When you juice, you extract all of the fiber, which is the part of the fruit and vegetable that satiates you and keeps your blood sugar steady. A medium piece of fruit can have up to 60 calories and eating one apple will satisfy you, but if you juice it, you’ll only get about four ounces of juice, so you add more fruit to make it a bigger glass of juice, which adds more calories and way more sugar than your body can handle at one time.

When we take in that much liquid carb (that’s all that juice is) our bodies insulin gets a nice spike and for a moment or so we feel super infused with energy, but it isn’t long until the big crash happens and we are left off worse than before, hungry, moody, sleepy and the worst part is that our bodies are going into starvation mode which is a recipe for getting fat! It is important to pay attention to how juices are making you feel. If you are using something in replacement for a meal it should keep your hunger at bay for at least 2-3 hours. With juice it is very common to experience hunger as soon as 30 minutes after, which leads to consuming more juice (more calories in the form of liquid carbs), and this becomes an endless unhealthy cycle. The best thing to do is integrate juicing into your regular, well-balanced diet and you can avoid the blood sugar roller coaster ride that so many people go on when they abuse juicing.


7 Juice rules to live by that won’t make you fat!

  1. Drink juices that contain more vegetables in them than fruit
  2. Pair your juice with a protein infused snack like some raw almonds or alongside your full meal
  3. Only drink juice by itself if right before a workout for some quick energy
  4. Only drink juice by itself if you just ate something 30-60 min before or are about to eat 30-60 min later.
  5. If juice fasting, slow down activity level for the duration of fast
  6. Don’t drink too much juice at once, sip on it slowly. 8-16oz is more than enough.
  7. Listen to your body, if hungry 30-60 min later after a juice reconsider that juice or add something to it

Alright, now you have the knowledge to go and juice responsibly!

The Barre Method and My Un-sculpted Arms.

Everywhere you turn there are new boutique studios opening and classes running that are Ballet barre inspired. These workouts are designed to give you that slim, strong and sculpted dancer physique.  But how does this compare to all of the other thousands of programs out there? The boot camps, Crossfits, Zumbas etc.  Have the Barre workouts figured out an amazing slimming trick that the rest have not? With every advertisement featuring toned arms, slender thighs and cut abs, the Barre workouts are as enticing as they come.

Coming from a dance background I was eager to get back to my roots. Big leg kicks and jumps across the floor…how could this not lift and tone my ass. To my surprise there were no large movements at all, in fact quite the opposite. We were asked to engage our muscles in the smallest micro-movements possible, 1-2 inches to be exact.  This required fierce concentration and I thought my head was going to explode. About half way into the class, as I looked at the clock and started to wonder if I would still have time to get a real workout in, I new this wasn’t for me.  Simply put I prefer bigger movements, the grunting, and the sweat, even the tears at times when I exercise and I wasn’t going to be getting this from a Barre workout. The class was full of devotees, who from the looks of it enjoyed the workouts and felt right at home. I am glad I had the experience and who knows maybe I will give it another go, but until then here is my consensus on whether or not Barre workouts will give you that Natalie Portman Physique you desire.


The Cons:
  • Science knows that the human body burns calories and fat more effectively and efficiently when using larger muscles working together.  (i.e. squats to a shoulder presses or a  lunge to a bicep curl). Smaller movements that only focusing on one little muscle at a time, can be great when used for therapeutic purposes, but if you’re expecting the same result against a bigger movement,  I’m sorry to say that it’s not possible.
  • Our bodies are meant to move in all different planes of motions to create optimal health. Twisting, jumping, bending etc. This workout is very black and white with a smaller core set of movements and leaves out a lot of important ones.
  • Unless you are really focusing on your diet this workout will not torch enough calories to cancel out any of that pizza you ate for lunch.The higher your heart rate, the more calories you will burn. Unfortunately Barre workouts do not  increase heart rate all that much, leaving you without many calories burned.
  • To avoid a plateau you should change your exercise program every 4-6 weeks. This methodology stays the same almost every time which I would think would get really boring too, let alone not as effective.
  • The promotion of these methods seem to always feature the same body type, age and socioeconomic girl.  Definitely not an inclusive brand or environment, super niche.


The Pros:
  • Working in a group environment like a Barre class, has proven to be more effective and motivating than just going to the gym.
  • Lots of core strengthening exercises, which are great for posture and decreasing chance of injury.
  •  A very low impact workout, which is great if you have certain injuries or just don’t like more metabolic, impact exercises.
  • A great way to learn how to engage and focus on specific muscles.
  • If people enjoy it, than they will do it so I recommend giving this workout a go to see if it is something that jives with you. Results are highly based upon consistency in your exercise regiment no matter what you do.

Coach Juliet Burgh


Why We Use Cardio Intervals


If you’ve trained at Unite Fitness, you know we love to use interval training, especially for cardio, but maybe you didn’t hear why exactly our cross-training workouts use them.

Increase Metabolism “Calorie Fire”: When you integrate short bouts of intense exercise (above target heart rate) into a “regular” workout it causes larger uptakes of oxygen, both during and after exercise. You notice the need for more oxygen as a huff and puff after a sprint, which you might correlated to blowing air on a “calorie fire”. to get it really cooking! Over time your body adapts to this higher intensity and becomes more efficient at burning calories, which signifies the raising of the metabolism. It also means it is simply a time efficient way to burn calories and get the cardio benefits vs super long sessions.

Increase Speed: For the many endurance athletes, the cardio intervals at Unite are key because they help break through the plateaus you will hit if you simply train at the same intensity all the time, i.e. long paced runs/bikes/rows. With that big oxygen uptake you improve your overall respiratory capacity, i.e. you can work at higher intensities and faster paces without getting out of breath, so it will seem easier to take on long runs at a faster pace.

Aerobic improvements can be felt within two weeks, motivating continued training, but significantly greater benefits are realized after several months of training, so start now!



Gavin McKay & Mark Donahue

Is Cross-training Like Crossfit?

Similarities exist in both Crossfit and Cross-


  • Motivating small group training
  • Smart coaching on techniques
  • High intensity, challenging workouts
  • Social, local studio communities
  • Amazing results for those that commit to the program

Crossfit workouts can be defined as a high intensity training style that integrates gymnastics, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting.  Cross-training workouts refer to training in multi-sport cardio, as well as, various strength training, fitness and mind-body modalities with a goal of being healthy, balanced and improving overall performance while reducing risk of injury.

Competitive versus Inclusive Culture

What makes small group training and the studio environment so effective is the community it builds. Coaches that know your name and ability to support the other members around you who help motivate your efforts. In Crossfit you’ll find that the every workout of the day (WOD) turns the daily fitness routine into a competitive event.  You are pitted against the clock and against each other. Be prepared to display your score on the board among the list of the daily competitors.

In cross-training you are competing more against yourself and enjoying your individual accomplishments without the need to compare. There are occasional opt in challenges and many cross-trainers do choose to take on personal goals of races in running, cycling, tri’s, and obstacle courses but the focus is still on you pushing your limits and the motivation of the person next to you is subtle.

Technical & Heavy Weights versus Safe & Effective

Cross-training picks exercises that are the most effective at burning calories and building muscle along with the other goals of each phase of training.  They must also however be safe and accessible to many levels. For the most part Cross-training exercises are chosen so that all levels can do them safely without a lot of modifications needed or time required for mastery before progression.

Crossfit uses many more high skilled gymnastics and Olympic lifts, which take more time to learn and when you increase the skill of any movement it increases the risk of injury.  The other focus in Crossfit that makes it different than cross-traning and adds to the risk of injury is the goal of lifting the most weight possible. This means training at super low rep counts and tested almost weekly by increasing weights until you can only do only 1 repetition. Get used to hearing the thud of heavily loaded barbells getting dropped to the floor. Not only is it ok, it is encouraged.

In Crossfit, beginners really need to go slow and not push their limits with the technical lifts, however, it’s beginners who often don’t know when to “hold back,” or moderate.  And the repetitive movements, at high speeds or heavy weights can take a toll on joints and stabilizer muscles regardless of experience. Injuries abound in all sports, but there is growing body of articles documenting Crossfit related injuries.  Key takeaway is to ensure you have good coaching and mastery of basics before upping your intensity in all activities. Here is an article that explains a study done on Crossfit’s program showing its benefits and drawbacks.

Specific versus Broad & Balanced

Crossfitters focus on repeating a core curriculum of lifts like barbell cleans, snatches, and jerks, back squats and deadlifts, ball slams, kettlebell swings, muscle ups and rope climbs. Crossfit has chosen their list of exercises and program in power training, whereas Cross-training is open to any exercise or tool that is effective for training in endurance, strength or power. Cross-training tries to encompass a broader range of exercises, from varied speed and hill intervals for runners, cyclists, and rowers, to a wide weight and repetition range of a limitless array of strength movements, to a complete yoga stretch and relaxation massage.

Random versus Phased Training

Crossfit’s programming is based on a keeping it random so that the body is always thrown off but the most excepted form of programming is to stay focused on one type of training for 4-6 weeks so that the body and mind can adapt before changing and progressing.

Cross-training uses broad and varied exercises, but a clear structure of phases govern their usage so that they achieve the desired result. A month of low to moderate intensity (no rest) cardio intervals is followed by a month of mid to high intensity with rest, and completed with a month of short burst high intensity cardio.  Similarly in the strength training segment, a month of high rep stability and endurance is followed by a month of moderate rep max strength movements, and completed with a month of heart pounding explosive movements done for low or high reps.

So what training is best for you?  

Depends on what you are looking to gain and what environment keeps you motivated out so you get the results you want.  Personally, I am an owner of a Cross-training studio and have been a member of a Crossfit gym so my workouts can vary.  My own fitness goals are broad with lots of different fun activities so I cross-train to be healthy, well rounded and fit for almost anything.


Train Smarter While Traveling: 8 Tricks to Trim Travel

I personally find vacationing and business travel to be a fun time to train because you are forced out of your normal routines to find new, exciting places to workout, creative ways to work exercise into your schedule and great local foods to sample.  The mistake people make is they shut down when off their routines and assume they are off from exercise and eating well for a couple days. I’ll say it can be a real challenge depending on your line of work and partner but it can also be super rewarding and smooth.

8 Tricks to Trim Travel:

  1. Bring Super Mobile Training Equipment
    Whether you are staying at the Ritz or a campsite there are a few key pieces of mobile equipment that will fit nicely in your bag yet allow you to get a sick ass workout anywhere. No weights, no problem with the suspension trainer that uses your own body weight for totally adjustable resistance.  Our favorite tool I recommend Jungle Gyms’ simpler, lower cost version than TRX as you just throw it over a pull up bar, fence, or tree (I used it in Spain and Shenandoah with equal ease). Other items would be a speed rope and resistance bands for some quick, effective high intensity.
  2. Run, Bike, Swim, Walk, Hike Across Whatever Town You Find Yourself
    Ask the concierge where the best places to go are or call a friend who lives there and catch up while doing something healthy instead of always doing food and drinks. If you are on vacation then you are going to be a little more indulgent so make sure to burn some of those calories off with some active excursions and morning workouts. Hit the beach, the city, the trail, the ocean, whatever is available becomes a fun way to mix up your training.  I find the morning run is my favorite way to really get a feel for the layout of a new city or park when its bright, fresh and quieter. Just bring a map or smart phone!
  3. Pack & Find Healthy Snacks 
    Transportation stations are getting a little better with healthier options but even some so called healthy bars and shakes are loaded with sugar and chemicals. I like to get a high nutrient drink like a Naked smoothie since and good old water to stay hydrated, skip the other beverages as most are just sugar. While you cannot bring liquids you can bring food: nuts, apples, jerky, oatmeal (not instant just throw some steel cut in ziplocks for quick healthy breakfast) are easiest and there are a few bars that pass too: kind, larabar, probar.
  4. Subscribe to Unite’s WIM (Workout, Inspiration, Meal) of the Week Newsletter
    You’ll get free weekly workout programs and meals emailed to you so you can just follow Unite’s programming even when you are out on the road and not knowing what to do. They are usually simple enough to do in most hotel gyms, but you might want a suspension trainer or band.
  5. Hit Up The Best Local Studios and Gyms
    I love to see what different gyms and studios are doing and feed of the energy of new people and a new environment.  Never taken spin, curious about Bar method, everyone’s talking about some trainer, then research and sign up for some fresh local motivation.
  6. Stretch and Meditate in the Plane, Train or Automobile
    Too much seated time can be exhausting and get your body all knotted up, so be sure to do a half time stretch routine with folds, twists, reaches, arching, rounding, and of course breathing.  If you are going to be still and locked in place you might as well do some mental training so meditate. To focus yourself I recommend using some of the great guided meditation tracks available on SoundsTrue.  DOWNLOAD HERE.
  7. Alternate Alcohol with Water to Avoid the Hangover
    The most common reason for missing a morning workout while working or on vacation is that extra drink or two at dinner the night before. Socializing is great but those couple of hours after dinner can be toxic as you stay up later, ingest sugar and alcohol right before bed making you sleep poorly and feel like crap upon waking, hence missed workouts. Alternate every drink or every other drink with water to slow down the process, keep your wits and stay hydrated. I find sticking to beer and wine 90% of the time with a no shot rule keeps me level.
  8. Be a Leader and Choose Meals Wisely
    While exercise will keep you fit and feeling good, the diet is what can really set people back in terms of body composition goals. Don’t check out when you eat out, especially when on business travel. Be a leader and choose healthier restaurants, get the healthier dishes and turn down all the appetizers and desserts. Look for fish and veggies over the heavy stuff. What is really gained by falling to food peer pressure? A big belly and heart problems if my project  partners from my old consulting days are any example.