Comments Off on Beat cabin fever by enjoying the snow!

Beat cabin fever by enjoying the snow!

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Too much snow?!?! Impossible!

We know by the time all the good snow arrives, most of us are sick of winter.  

Relieve the cabin fever: Cross Country skiing and snow shoeing are both awesome  workouts and wonderful ways to enjoy the great outdoors, so go have fun in the snow…it will be gone soon!

 Here are a few pictures from our visit to Governor Thompson State Park just North of Crivitz near the Caldron Falls Flowage.  

PS: Locally we ski at two Brown County Parks: The Reforestation Camp near Suamico and Neshota Park near Denmark.

Gov Thompson SP Fire Tower

Wood Lake 1

Gov Thompson SP Wood Lake trailGov Thompson SP trail

Comments Off on Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution

Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Have you resolved to “get in shape”? 

Did you know that 88% of New Years Resolutions fail?

Sticking with it for the first 3 months is the key to success. If you are finding it difficult to stick to your resolutions, you’re not alone!

How can you improve your odds? Start by setting a SMART goal.

SMART = Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Reward-based, and Time-framed.


Most resolutions fail because they are too vague.

Proclaiming: “I am going to get in shape this year” is not specific enough.

You need to have an ACTION PLAN: “I am going to exercise for 30 minutes three times  per week for the next 4 weeks.”


Avoid setting a goal to lose a specific amount of weight in a specific amount of time as your one and only goal*.  Most people feel they MUST weigh themselves, however don’t base everything on what the scale says.

  • Keep track of inches lost with a tape measure.
  • Measuring too complicated? Instead pay attention to how your clothes fit. Take note of how a particular pair of pants fits (maybe a little snug) and try it again in a month.
  • Find out your body composition (the ratio of fat to lean body tissue) is much more important. This can be measured  with a skin-fold calipers or Futrex Body Composition Analyzer…you can schedule an appointment at our studio.
  • Test your fitness level. How many push-ups you can do without stopping? How many chair squats you can complete in 30 seconds? How long does it takes you to walk/run one mile? Re-test every eight to twelve weeks and you will be impressed with yourself!


Steer clear of false expectations. Do not expect to lose more than one pound per week*. You did not get out-of-shape overnight and it may take some time to see the results. Weigh yourself only once each week and for most re-assessments wait at least one month. 


It’s important to dangle a carrot out there for motivation. Setting a time frame will help you know WHEN it is time to reward yourself. Think of something you’ve been wanting to do. When you reach your 4 week, 8 week or 12 week goal do something nice for YOU!

Stick with it through March 31, 2012 (there’s your time-frame!) Once you pass that three month milestone, experience the benefits of regular exercise and see some results you will look good & feel great!

*Keep in mind that studies show exercise alone WILL NOT help you lose a significant amount of weight. Sign up for Smart Loss Seminar to find out what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat.

Do you have a health and fitness question? Email us at

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


Comments Off on Snow Shoveling Safety

Snow Shoveling Safety

Category : Active Living

If you live in Wisconsin, shoveling snow is as inevitable as eating cheese but not nearly as fun (or tasty!). Shoveling combines intense aerobic activity with weight-lifting, so even if you are in shape, it is important to do it right.

Who should not shovel?
Anyone all ready experiencing back problems or any cardiac risk factors (history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smokers) should let someone else do the work or get a snow blower. If in doubt, talk to your primary care giver before you start. You could save yourself a lot of pain and money by delegating this task!

How to Avoid Shoveling Injuries
As for the rest of us, shoveling can be great exercise as long as we do it right. Shoveling snow can aggravate your back and increase your risk of cardiac-related conditions. Here are some tips for avoiding shoveling injuries.

1. Warm-up. Avoid straining your muscles and cardiac system by gradually increasing your heart rate and stretching. Before you pick up a shovel, do each of the following exercises 5x:

· Stand on one leg and swing the other forward with a straight leg and back bending your knee to bring your heel toward your butt.
· Slowly bend forward to touch your toes.
· Circle shoulders forward and backward.
· Reach one hand up to sky while reaching other hand down the side of your leg toward your knee; switch sides.
· Get on hands and knees or stand facing a chair and place your hands on the seat. Arch your back curving it down toward floor with tailbone lifted and shoulder blades pulled together; then round back up toward ceiling tucking tailbone under and letting head hang between arms.

2. Drink water. You will probably break a sweat shoveling so drink some water before you head out. Dehydration can stress your heart.

3. Dress properly. Yes, it is cold and you want to bundle up, but in a few minutes you may start to overheat, so dress in layers you can remove. Overheating places undue stress upon your heart. Also, proper footwear is important not only to keep your toes warm, but also so that you have good traction.

4. Use proper technique.
· Push the snow. Instead of lifting it, lower the handle to about hip height and “plow” it.
· When you must lift; use your legs. That means you should bend your knees NOT at the waist.
· Take small scoops. It might take longer, but you won’t strain as much.
· Avoid holding your breath! It sounds silly, but holding your breath causes a sudden increase in blood pressure.
· Abdominal bracing (tighten up as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach) will protect your back.
· Switch lead leg and hand to avoid overuse. This feels awkward like writing with your non-dominant hand, but do it anyway and you will not only get more coordinated; but stay balanced.
· Avoid twisting and don’t throw snow over your shoulder.

5. Take breaks. Pay attention to how you feel. Take a break every 5-10 minutes to recover if you are over doing it and never ignore chest pain or tightness.

6. Timing is everything. If possible, shovel later in the day because a back injury is more likely to occur in the early morning due to the build-up of fluid in the spinal column from lying down all night. If you have to shovel in the morning (most of us do) be sure use the warm ups listed above!

7. Stretch when you are done. You might feel like collapsing in a heap, but you should do the same stretches mentioned for the warm-up.

Shoveling may be a necessary evil, but done correctly it doesn’t have to be a pain. I hope you will get out and enjoy the snow whether you ski, snowshoe, or just build a snow man with your kids.

Do you have a health or fitness question? Contact me
Yours in Health & Fitness,

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

Comments Off on Don’t Take This Sitting Down

Don’t Take This Sitting Down

Category : Active Living

by Karin Jennings

How much time do you spend sitting? According to a poll of 6000+ people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the average person spends 56 hours per week sitting! Think about it, thanks to technology we are able to sit more than any other generation in the history of the human race! That, my friends, is extremely bad for our health.

The Physiology of Inactivity

What happens to your body when you sit for extended periods of time? Studies show that your body reacts to being sedentary in the following ways:

  • Circulation slows
  • Metabolism slows
  • Cholesterol levels increase
  • Lipoprotein lipase levels decrease
  • Body uses less blood sugar

Inactivity increases the risk of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Depression
  • Chronic lower-back pain

Move more often

Studies show that regular workouts, while beneficial to your health, do not entirely negate the harmful effects of sitting. Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre of the University of Queensland in Australia found that regardless of how much moderate to vigorous exercise participants did, those who took more breaks from sitting throughout the day had slimmer waists, lower BMIs (body mass indexes), and healthier blood fat and blood sugar levels than those who sat the most. In an extensive study of 17,000 people, Canadian researchers drew an even more succinct conclusion: The longer you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to die an early death — no matter how fit you are.

This isn’t about finding time to exercise for 30-60 minutes five times per week which is the standard recommendation. Instead, this is about getting up and moving throughout the day.

Here are some ideas:

  • Get up and move every 30 minutes. Set a reminder on your computer or phone and DON’T ignore it.
  • Stand instead of sitting…whenever you can stand behind your desk instead of sitting, do it.
  • Walk instead of standing…if you can pace or “walk and talk” do so.
  • Use the restroom & water fountain furthest from you desk.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Limit TV watching to 1 hour/day or don’t watch TV sitting down, instead stand, ride a stationary bike, or sit on a stability ball.
  • Replace your desk chair with a stability ball.
  • Try wearing a pedometer. This will make you more aware of how active (or inactive) you are during the day. If you haven’t reached 10,000 steps by evening…go out for a walk to make up for it, however set your goal for the next day to increase your activity by 20% (for instance, if you only made it to 6000 steps, aim for 7200 the following day).

Remember, it’s the little things that add up in this case. Move more each day ALL day long for healthier, happier you!

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 Creating My New Habit

Creating My New Habit

Category : Active Living, Exercise

by Karin Jennings

I know, I’m a personal trainer, so how could I not have an exercise habit? Well. Here’s my confession, lately I have been too busy…at least that was my reason. I have an active lifestyle, I am on my feet when I’m at the studio and have been a weekend warrior (mostly mountain biking and canoeing) but I haven’t been doing anything very consistent in the past few years. Yes, I’d been feeling guilty about it, but not enough to change anything.

Here’s how it happened:

First, I registered for an event. Ryan and I registered for the Southern Kettle Moraine Challenge about 2 months prior to the event. I knew that I did not have a lot of time to improve my fitness for this 10 hour adventure race.

I established a schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a time of day: immediately after I get the kids off to school. I quickly discovered that it was important to dress in my running clothes so that after I walked my daughter to school I did not have to stop home to put on my running shoes or eat because I’d get distracted with housework or email and end up blowing so much time I’d have skip my run.

I was worried about starting up a running program, I’ve started and quit due to injuries plenty of times. This time was different…I started out slow. Instead of over-doing it I started with a walk/run plan and gradually increased the amount of time I spent running. The every other day schedule gave me a day to recover if I was sore.

I also told two people about my running plan. First, I told my husband and teammate, Ryan not to worry I was “in-training” for this event and I’d be ready. I also emailed him every morning after my run just to tell him that I did it. The other person who knew my schedule (and you’re going to laugh) was the crossing guard at the school. One day she noticed I was not wearing running clothes and asked about it. Since it was a Thursday I explained that I run every other day. Guess what? It made me feel compelled to put my running clothes on the next morning so she’d know I was sticking to plan. Now she always comments on the weather or says, “nice day for a run”.

Last but not least, I rediscovered that the statement “you’re only one workout away from a good mood” is so true! I know this from past experience, but had been ignoring it because I was so busy! I definitely get more done on the days that I start out with a run.

What’s really amazing is that the race was over two weeks ago and I am still running! I thought for sure I’d quit as soon as the race was over because getting in shape for the race would no longer be a priority, but the habit has been established and I love the endorphins!

As we approach the winter months I am not sure if I will be able to continue running outdoors. I may have to reconsider my mode of exercise, but very motivated to establish a new winter exercise habit now that I’ve gained so much ground! I promise to get back to you and tell you what I’m doing for the winter soon…see, I just did it again, promised you something which will force me into action!!

Ryan & Karin after 10 hour Adventure Race…still smiling!

Summary of ways to create a new exercise habit:

  • Register for an event (now I am registered for the Turkey Trot!)
  • Schedule it (both day & time)
  • Tell someone who will hold you accountable
  • Start slow so you don’t get injured
  • Don’t stop home…avoid distractions
  • Notice how great you feel on days you workout

Comments Off on Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

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!


Comments Off on Beat the Heat

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,




Comments Off on Fitness for Moms

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.