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Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Last week we kicked off our “Moves You Can Use” blog with exercises for specific body parts. That led to the inevitable question, “Can you do a series on ‘How to make my belly flatter’?” That question made us realize that we ought to address the “spot reduction” myth head on!

How do I get rid of this?

People ask us all the time, “What’s the best exercise to get rid of this?” (as they point to an area of their body they feel is a bit too flabby) Infomercials are always promising to “burn fat” off of your belly, your butt, or your thighs. This drives us (and most likely all fitness professionals) crazy because doing specific body part exercises will definitely help to strengthen that muscle but you cannot “spot reduce” fat. 

Burn, baby, burn

Yes, you definitely feel your abdominal muscles when you do crunches or your glutes when you do an exercise to target them. The “burn” you feel is because those muscles are exerting a lot of energy NOT because you are burning fat. So doing abdominal crunches does not mean you are burning abdominal fat.  If your abdominal fat is resistant to mobilization then it will probably be the last fat to be mobilized and utilized. (I know, you didn’t want to hear that)  You will likely notice changes to your arms and other areas and start to wonder why the fat around your stomach (or hips) isn’t cooperating.  Be patient, eventually it will happen! 

So why do spot specific exercises?

As a trainer instruct clients to do specific exercises for core, glutes, arms, etc. The reason is to strengthen those muscles. There are many muscles that become weak when humans spend too much time sedentary and to avoid injury a strong core and glutes are important.

What else can you do?

A combination of aerobic exercise, interval training and muscle-conditioning will get you mobilizing that unwanted body fat. Realize that adopting an active lifestyle with a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day and a healthy diet is also crucial to reducing your body fat. The trainers at XO can help you make the changes needed to reach your health & fitness goals. It’s important to pick just one thing that you can do differently this week and make it a habit!


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Build a Better Butt #2

Category : Exercise

Step Up for a Better Butt

Step Up for a Better Butt

Step-ups: Stand with a sturdy step or box in front of you and place your left foot squarely on the step.  Your entire body should lean slightly forward so that you can transfer your weight to your left foot. Force your left leg (primarily the glutes) to do the work by pushing with the heel and really concentrate on using ONLY your left leg…keep the right leg passive, especially as you initiate the step-up. 

The height of the step can be increased as you become more proficient at performing this exercise, however it should not cause your knee to be bend tighter than a 90 degree angle.

How many?                                                                                                                                    10 slow & controlled reps on each leg. You may increase to 3 sets of 10 reps.

By the way, it’s important for you too know that you can not “burn the fat” off your butt or any other problem area on your body…please read Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work for more information!

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Build a Better Butt #1

Category : Exercise

Great Butt Exercise

Quadruped Hip Extension

Quadruped Hip Extension: On your hands and knees, slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees; lift leg up until the thigh is lined up with the body (parallel to the floor). Do not lift any higher because this will cause the spine to arch.

According to John Porcari, an exercise scientist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, “When you look at the EMG levels, quadruped hip extension elicited the highest muscle activation, and we did it without any weight. I think if you used ankle weights, that exercise would be even more effective in terms of targeting the buttocks.”

How many should you do? Try 10 -15 SLOW & controlled lifts.

Why train your glutes? One look in a three-way mirror is enough to motivate most of us. However, besides looking good, training your gluteals is important because if they are weak you are at risk for low back and/or knee problems. 



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Beat the Heat

Category : Active Living, Exercise, Healthy Eating

Is summer vacation and hot weather challenging your weight loss efforts? Too Hot to Cook
  • It’s tempting to eat out when it’s too hot to cook If you do eat out, remember to eat reasonable portions and eat all your vegetables. Try to avoid fast food all together.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables This is the BEST season for fresh produce…plus you don’t have cook it. Whether you visit a farmer’s market or stop by the salad bar enjoy delicious fruits and raw vegetables EVERY day. Remember, the USDA recommends 3 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables daily.
  • Grill healthy foods Grilling out will keep your kitchen cool. Prepare veggies (zucchini, colorful peppers, onions, and mushrooms tossed in olive oil) in a grill basket. As for meat, stay away from the brats and burgers and opt for lean cuts of meat or fish.
  • Avoid traditional picnic food Chips, mayo-based “salads” (such as potato salad and coleslaw) and meat on a bun are not good choices. If you are invited to a “cookout” offer to bring a salad or fresh fruit.
Too Hot to Exercise
  • Drink Water Always a good idea…zero calories. Avoid drinking calories from soda, ice coffees, and sports drinks except as a special treat.
  • Workout indoors The great outdoors is usually a great option here in Wisconsin, however, if we’re experiencing a heat wave exercise indoors.
  • Stay cool in the pool Swim, chase your kids, walk in chest-high water or try deep water running for awesome low impact exercise.
  • Exercise early The sun is up early in the summer, but the couple of hours after sunrise are cool and quiet. A perfect way to beat the heat!
  • Get Acclimated If you know you will be participating in an event that will require you to exert yourself when it is hot outdoors it is best to exercise in the heat for short periods so that your body can adjust to it. For more information:
Heat Emergencies (from the American Red Cross) Generally, illnesses caused by overexposure to extreme temperatures are preventable. The easiest way to prevent illness caused by temperature extremes is to avoid being outside during the part of the day when temperatures are most extreme. The signals of heatstroke include:
  • Hot, red skin which can be dry, or moist from exercise
  • Changes in consciousness
  • Pulse is rapid,/weak
  • Breathing is rapid,/shallow
  • Vomiting
  • Body temperature is very high—sometimes as high as 106°F
What to do for heat stroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening situation. If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately:
  • Move the person to a cool place
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Remove perspiration-soaked clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to the skin
  • Fan the person
  • If conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink*
  • Place the person on his or her side
  • Continue to cool the person by using ice or cold packs on the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and in the armpits
  • Continue to check breathing and circulation
 The signals of heat exhaustion include:
  • Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Body temperature normal or below normal
What to do for heat exhaustion
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets soaked in water
  • If the person is conscious, give him or her cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes*
  • Let the person rest in a comfortable position
  • Watch carefully for changes in his or her condition
 *Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine because they can cause further dehydration, making conditions worse. Ensure 9-1-1 or the local emergency number is called if the person refuses water, vomits or starts to lose consciousness. Stay cool, stay fit and have great summer! Yours in health & fitness, Karin    

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Fitness for Moms

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Look Good & Feel Great no matter what age your kids happen to be!
Here’s why exercise is important for all you Moms out there:

Pre-natal exercise minimizes weight gain during pregnancy and can definitely make your delivery easier.

Moms with little kids
Lose the baby fat! You spend nearly every waking moment taking care of others.
Isn’t it time you take care of yourself? A little “me time” goes a long way.

Moms with school-age kids
Like it or not, your kids are watching you, so be a good role model.
If you care about exercise and eating well it will rub off on your kids (eventually).

Moms with older kids
Now that you have some free time are you in shape enough to enjoy it?
Got any kids’ weddings to attend? You can look great in your mother-of-the-bride gown.

Babies are heavier than you might remember!
Can you get down on the floor to play?
Are you fast enough to keep up with your grandchildren?


Comments Off on Good for You, Good for the Planet

Good for You, Good for the Planet

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Here are some ways to make you and the planet healthier!

1. Leave your car at home. 

Not everyone is lucky enough to live walking distance from their place of work. If walking is out of the question, consider biking to work at least a couple days per week. If getting to work must involve a car, think about walking from your place of work to run errands (ok, you can walk) or go out to lunch. The less you drive, the better!

2. Eat less meat.

Visit for more information. According to their website: Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

3. Eat organic foods.

Foods grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, factory farming, hormone use, and antibiotics are not polluting the earth or your body.

Don’t try to be perfect…instead, follow the 80-20 rule. This means eat organic about 80% of the time. You will feel good about your choices without driving yourself crazy.

4. Reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.

Eat whole foods. They are better for you than foods which have loads of chemicals and filler plus they tend to require less packaging which means less garbage heading for the landfill.

Compost. Not sure how? Visit According to their website, studies have shown that home composting can divert an average of 700 lbs. of material per household per year from the waste stream. If your flower beds are clay like mine they could use some compost!

We hope that in recognition of Earth Day you will consider making some lasting changes for a healthier planet and healthier body.


Yours in Health & Fitness,

Karin & Ryan and the XO Fitness training team


Comments Off on What is Orienteering?

What is Orienteering?

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Orienteering is navigation using a map and compass.

For beginners…
It’s a fun way to exercise your body and mind as you enjoy the outdoors.

For those with experience…
It’s a timed race.

Do you want to learn?
If you want to learn how to read a map and use a compass contact Ryan He would LOVE to help you get started! The Badger Orienteering event at High Cliff is a great place to start. Please join us on April 21 at 10 am.


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Changing your Usual

Category : Exercise

Spring is a time of change. Humans, in general don’t like change. We like things that are predictable and safe. We go to the same restaurants and order “the usual”. We have many routines and traditions. Sometimes that’s good. It’s efficient, it’s comforting to know what to expect. However, some routines and habits are sabotaging our health.

If you do what you’ve always done,
you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
-Tony Robbins

Examine your USUAL

If you want to change your body, you may have to change your “USUAL!” Start by making a list of your “Usuals.” Some of them may be good; some of them may not be so good. Here is a list to get you started:

• What do you usually eat for breakfast?

• What is your usual morning routine on weekdays (before work)?

• What do you usually have for lunch?

• Do you usually have a snack or two during the day? If so, what do you usually have?

• What do you usually do after work?

• What do you usually have for dinner?

• What time do you usually eat dinner?

• What is your usual evening routine?

• What do you usually do on Friday night?

• What do you usually do on Saturday? How about Sunday?


Pick one and ONLY one

Don’t try to change everything all at once! Now that you have identified the things you would ideally like to change, pick ONE thing that you are ready to change. According to Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, people have an 85% success rate when they focus on changing only one habit at a time. If they attempt to change two habits at once their success rate drops to 35%. Trying to change three habits is a recipe for failure…only 10% succeed.


Rules for Success

In the blog, Zen Changes, also by Leo Babauta, he outlines the rules you must follow in order to change a habit.

1) Start with an easy habit. How certain are you on a scale of 1-10 that you can make this change? If you aren’t a 9 or a 10, you should start with a different “usual” or “replacement”. Don’t worry, the ones that seem too difficult to change right now won’t be once you have gained some momentum! Start with small successes and soon you will have the confidence to tackle the tougher ones.

2) Make it measureable. At the end of the day did you do it or not? It should be easy to tell. If your goal is to exercise set a goal in minutes. If you are going to eat more vegetables, decide how many times per day you are going to eat them. If your goal is to get more organized, spend 10 minutes putting things in order.

3) Be consistent. This is your new usual, so it will most likely happen at the same time of day every day.

4) Report daily. When you are getting started you should share your goal with someone who you can report to daily. So tell your spouse, your best friend, your sister or your personal trainer. You need to be accountable to someone! You may also want to keep a daily journal.

5) Keep a positive attitude. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be perfect. You will get better at your new habits the more you practice them.

Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the little voice
at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
-Mary Anne Radmacher


When can you change another Usual?

Wait at least one month to make sure you have given yourself enough time to develop your new usual. If you are really struggling, you may need to give yourself more time. Remember, the more you love your usual, the more difficult it will be to replace it. Of course, it doesn’t have to mean you must refrain forever, it just means it is no longer your usual…instead it is an out-of-the-ordinary treat!

If you really want to change your body it’s time to examine your “Usual” and become aware of the many things that you do on auto-pilot. Some habits lure us into a sedentary lifestyle such as turning on the TV or checking email and facebook. Others cause us to eat more calories than we intended. (Why is that candy dish on your desk, anyway?) We automatically do other things that are good for us for instance fastening our seatbelts and brushing our teeth so it is possible to other adopt good habits too! This month choose that first habit you want to change, tell someone what you are planning to change (email me if you’d like), then get started! You can do this! XO Karin

Karin Jennings owns and operates XO Fitness, LLC in De Pere with her husband, Ryan. She has been a certified personal trainer since 1996. XO Fitness specializes in personal and small group training. They focus on helping people reach their health & fitness goals through exercise and lifestyle changes.


Comments Off on >America’s #1 Health Problem

>America’s #1 Health Problem

Category : Exercise

>Americans are, in general, stressed out and the holidays just put the icing on the cake. According to the American Medical Association, stress is a factor in more than 75% of sickness today. Also, the World Health Organization states: Stress is America’s #1 Health Problem.

How do we reduce stress-levels? First, you must make reducing your stress a priority which means finding time to manage it. Reflect on this:

“If we do not make time for health we’ll have to make time for sickness.” ~Marilu Henner

How is stress affecting you?

Some people have physical symptoms:

Headaches/Back pain/Heart disease/Heart palpitations/High blood pressure/Decreased immunity/Stomach upset/Sleep problems

Others experience:
Anxiety/Restlessness/Irritability/Depression/Angry outbursts/Lack of focus/Overeating/Drug or alcohol abuse/Relationship conflicts

Most of these physical symptoms, feelings and behaviors cause more problems and more stress and lead into a downward spiral. Yikes! How do we put on the brakes? Put on the brakes by taking a break. Here’s my favorite new quote:

“The time to relax is when you
don’t have time for it.”
~Author Unknown

Stress Busters

5 minute stress-buster 
Find a quiet place (even your parked car) where you can close your eyes and breathe. Try progressive muscle relaxation. In this relaxation technique, you focus on tension and relaxation. Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense each muscle group for five to ten seconds and then relax and move on to the next muscle group. Most people hold a lot of tension in their upper back, neck, jaw and face. You may not even realize that you are tense in those areas until you try this technique. Imagine letting the tension “melt away”…this really works great.

10 minute stress-buster
Exercise. You just knew I was going to say that didn’t you? It doesn’t take as much time as you may think. Even a brisk 10 minute walk can help to clear your mind. Physical activity increases the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.

30-60 minute stress-buster 
Longer bouts of exercise (if squeezing them in does not stress out your schedule) are highly recommended. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running, cycling and swimming will all give you some “me time” which is great for sifting through your list and solving a problem or two. Another suggestion: relax, breathe and get re-focused with yoga or tai chi. Do you need to get totally distracted? Try a playing a sport or attending a choreographed exercise class which will keep you focused on the activity at hand with no chance to dwell on your problems. Visit to see our group training schedule.

Put things into perspective. I love the question: “Will this matter 5 years from now?” Some things will, but a lot of things won’t. Try to identify them. Follow this well-known advice:

Don’t sweat the small stuff…
and it’s all small stuff.
~Richard Carlson

Have a Happy Healthy Holiday Season!

Karin Jennings is a certified personal trainer and co-owner of XO Fitness, LLC in De Pere.
Please visit for more information about our personal & group training services.

Comments Off on >Back to Fitness: The 3 R’s

>Back to Fitness: The 3 R’s

Category : Exercise

Did your fitness routine go freestyle this summer? The trouble with summer is that people tend to be inconsistent about exercising. This happens for a multitude of reasons: a) the kids are home; b) week-long vacations and travel; c) relying on outdoor activities like gardening and walking for exercise.

Now that September is here it is time to get back to fitness! How to start? ”Back to School” and “Back to Fitness” have a lot of similarities. Here are the “Three R’s”:

Regular Routine

Schedule your exercise. Consistency is the key to success. “I am going to get in shape this fall” is far too vague. Instead, say “I am going to exercise for 30 minutes three days a week for the next 4 weeks.” You should consider being even more specific and schedule the days you will exercise on your calendar. Notice how this statement is measureable in couple of ways (minutes of exercise & days per week) it also has a time frame of 4 weeks so when you have successfully exercised through out the month of September you can reward yourself. Then you can set a new goal (maybe 4 days/week) for the month of October!

‘Rite it down
There are two things to write down:

1) Write your goals. Post them somewhere you can see them regularly and act upon them. It is important to review your goals daily…for one minute. Spencer Johnson, M.D., in his book The One Minute Mother gives us this motivational quote: “I take a minute, I look at my goals, I look at my behavior, I see if my behavior matches my goals”.
2) Record your workouts. It may seem silly, but most grown-ups are just as motivated as grade-schoolers by something as simple as a chart on the wall with gold stars. Try this at home: Place a calendar which is dedicated to keeping track of your workouts in a prominent location such as your refrigerator. Everyday you workout give yourself a star on the calendar. You may also want to record your time, distance and/or the activities you completed.

A lot of us are motivated by the numbers.

Most people feel they MUST weigh themselves, however don’t measure success by that number alone. Here are some other numbers to consider:

 Body composition (the ratio of fat to lean body tissue) is much more important. This can be measured with a skin fold calipers by a fitness professional.

 Keep track of inches lost with a tape measure. Record your girth measurements around your waist, hips, and upper leg. Measure them again in one month. The tricky part is measuring the same spot the next time, so take good notes. For example, when you measure your waist pay attention: did you measure across your belly button or two inches above your belly button?

 How many push-ups you can do without stopping, how many chair squats you can complete in 30 seconds and how long it takes you to walk/run a specific distance such as one mile (works best on a track)? Re-test every eight to twelve weeks and you will be impressed with yourself!

 How many minutes and/or miles you complete weekly or monthly?

Turn over a new leaf this Fall…follow the “Three R’s” and get fit this fall. Remember, consistency is the key to success! If you have a health & fitness question or need help with your fall fitness routine contact me:

Karin Jennings is a certified personal trainer and co-owner of XO Fitness, LLC in De Pere.