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FAQ’s about Exercise and your Heart

Category : Exercise

February is Heart Health Month


Of course, you’ve heard that you can reduce your risk of heart disease with exercise, but we wanted answer some FAQ’s about Exercise and your Heart because the confused mind won’t take action.


How Much? How Often? Read more about the American Heart Association’s recommendations


What should my heart rate be? Read more about monitoring your intensity level


Should I do Cardio or Strength first? Read more…it depends


How can I get the most out of cardio training? Read more about maximizing your cardio


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Spring Fitness Tips

Category : Active Living

If you hibernated over the winter here are some Spring fitness tips to help you get started!


Start Slowly


Our best advice is to start slowly to avoid injury.  The idea is to “Spring” into fitness; not SLAM into fitness. Begin with three days of cardio exercise and two days of strength exercise.


Cardio recommendations


Start with walking or another low-impact exercise.


You can do this outdoors if the weather permits or use indoor cardio equipment either at your home or our studio. Warm-up your ankles such as tapping your toes, heel raises, and ankle circles.

Week 1 20 minutes on three days of the week
Week 2 20 minutes on four days of the week OR 30 minutes on three days.
Week 3 20 minutes on five days of the week or 30 minutes on four days.
Week 4 30 minutes on five days.

Once you have built up to five days per week, stick with it. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

Having trouble finding the time?

30 minutes is only 2% of 24 hours!


Strength Training recommendations


The America Heart Association (and XO Fitness) recommend strength training two non-consecutive days each week.


Consulting a certified fitness professional is definitely a good idea because good form and proper exercise selection will improve your results and reduce your risk of getting injured.  As your body adapts to the extra demands of strength training you may eventually want to add a third day of strength training.


Stretching recommendations


The BEST time to work on your flexibility is AFTER your workout because your muscles are warm and pliable.  Many people blow-off this part of the workout, but flexibility training is just as important as cardiovascular and strength training. Most important stretches for most people include those for your hip flexors and chest/front of shoulders. Try these!

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Motivation in March

Category : Exercise

January is a distant memory…what about your New Years Resolutions? If they’ve fallen by the wayside, don’t worry…it happens to the best of us. Do you need to get moving again? Here’s what to do:


Keep track on a chart

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 stickers or smiley faces. 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 draw a smiley face (or give yourself a sticker) on the calendar. Everyday you do not workout draw a big red “X” on the day. That way you have a visual. More than two red X’s in a row and you will know you better get a move on! Any week you have more smiley faces than X’s reward yourself!


Schedule four workouts per week.

Take a few minutes each weekend to look ahead to the coming week and figure out which four days and times you will exercise. Scheduling four may seem like a lot, but consider the fact that “something will come up” on one of those days and you will have to cancel. In that case, at least you will get three workouts in. Consider that fourth workout as a “bonus” workout. If you complete it reward yourself!


Find an exercise buddy.

Exercising with a friend is more fun. It also makes it harder to cancel your workout because you have someone to answer to. You may even want to wager a friendly bet: Anytime you or your friend skips a planned workout the one who cancels has to put $5 into the jar. At the end of the month the person with the best track record gets all the money in the jar.


Register for an event.

Starting in April the calendar is literally exploding with opportunities to participate in everything from a 5K walk/run to an Ironman Triathlon. Pick an event which will be challenging, but not ridiculously so. Check out Having an event out there on the horizon you know you will have to stick to your workout in order to be ready in time. Many event websites post a workout schedule which you can follow; if not, a personal trainer can help you organize your workouts so you will be prepared for your event.


Try something new.

Perhaps you are tired of the same old, same old. Try a new activity, get some new workout clothes or shoes, buy some new music or a new exercise DVD. A small monetary investment may be all you need to get yourself moving again. Wouldn’t you feel guilty if you let those new shoes just sit there collecting dust?


Remember, Spring is just around the corner and you want to be in great shape by then! Pick one of these ideas and give it a whirl. Let me know which one you try and how it is working for you I would love to hear from you!


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

Comments Off on Best Shoulder Exercises

Best Shoulder Exercises

Category : Exercise

Welcome to Part 3 in our Awesome  Arm series…


Today’s topic: The Best Shoulder Exercise

In 2014, the American Council on Exercise studied the 10 most common shoulder exercises to determine the best shoulder exercise. See ACE study. The answer was that there is not ONE best shoulder exercise because the shoulder is a complicated joint with many attachments. This study analysed the deltoid which is the most visible shoulder muscle. It has three distinct parts: anterior, medial and posterior. Although there is some cross-over each of these is trained with different strength training exercise. Doing just one of the exercises listed below would not not be sufficient on a regular basis….be sure to train your whole shoulder!

diagram of deltoid muscle


The three best exercises for shoulders recommended by ACE fitness include

1) Rear Lateral Raise (reverse fly) for posterior deltoid

2) Bent Arm Lateral Raise for medial deltoid (the 45-degree incline row was suggested, however most of us don’t have an incline bench at home to work with. This exercise was a close 2nd)

3) Shoulder Press for anterior deltoid


Want to learn more? Contact us at

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High Intensity Interval Training

Category : Exercise

How hard should you be working out?

That is a good question! Make the most of your time, don’t  zone out…instead, zone in on your intensity level.

At XO Fitness we use 4 Zones:

Zone 1: Easy Warm-up & Recovery

Zone 2: Challenging, but comfortable

Zone 3: Challenging, but uncomfortable

Zone 4: Breathless; not maximum, but winded

There are many ways to monitor your intensity level. This method was developed by Nautilus Institute. Recent research indicates that this method might actually be one of the most accurate ways to monitor intensity because it takes into account each person’s  individual differences in fitness, heart size and experience.

Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

5 minutes: Warm-up in Zone 1

5 minutes: Zone 2

10 minutes: Alternate one minute in Zone 1 and one minute in Zone 3. (Zone 4 if you have been training a while)

5 minutes: Cool-down in Zone 1

Challenge yourself with a High Intensity Interval Training workout twice each week. You will burn more calories and improve your endurance much more with High Intensity Interval Training than if you hang out in Zones 1 & 2 during your entire workout!

Low Impact/High Intensity Interval Training (modified for beginner/intermediate fitness enthusiasts)


High Impact/High Intensity Interval Training (for intermediate to experienced fitness enthusiasts)


Want more exercises like these? Contact Karin at XO Fitness


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Halloween Candy vs Burpees

Category : Healthy Eating

It’s the first week of October,

stores are well-stocked with trick-or-treat candy,

but does that mean you need to stock your pantry?!

Be realistic, if you buy Halloween candy now will it actually be around on October 31st when the kids come knocking?

Leave the candy in the store until just a few days before Halloween….

otherwise, stepping on the scale might get a little scary!


Burpee Calculator source:

 This might help put things in perspective you love burpees, right?

Comments Off on Core Exercises for Obliques and Glutes

Core Exercises for Obliques and Glutes

Category : Exercise

Two for You!

Here are two core exercises you can do anytime, anywhere to strengthen obliques and glutes (specifically gluteus medius)….that’s the purpose of our exercise blog…to introduce new and fun exercises that you can do at home with little or no equipment because we know you can’t always get to the gym!
Exercise #1: Mermaids
Do it right: When performing this core exercise be sure not to cheat by using your hand to push off of the floor that way you will challenge the oblique abdominal muscles more effectively.
Exercise #2: Clams 
Do it right: Get the most out of this exercise by placing your hand on your hip to assure your hips are stacked. If you allow your upper hip to roll back even a little you won’t recruit the gluteus medius properly. If you can do more than 10-15 of  these without your glutes burning your are probably NOT positioned correctly.
If you have questions or would like to learn more exercises like these contact Karin:

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Balance and Core Muscle Exercises

Category : Exercise

Two for You!

Here are two standing core muscle exercises you can do anytime, anywhere to improve your balance and strengthen core muscles….that’s the purpose of our exercise blog…to introduce new and fun exercises that you can do at home with little or no equipment because we know you can’t always get to the gym!
Exercise #1: Hip Circles
Improve your balance, core muscle strength and hip mobility
Begin by balancing on one foot and draw and imaginary circle with your knee. Do ten circles in each direction. Repeat on the other side.
Exercise #2: Hopscotch
Improve your balance, core strength and inner thigh strength. Complete 15 repetitions on each side.
If you have questions or would like to learn more exercises like these contact Karin:

Comments Off on Balance Exercises: Two For You

Balance Exercises: Two For You

Category : Exercise

Here are two balance exercises you can do anytime, anywhere….that’s the purpose of our exercise blog…to introduce new and fun exercises that you can do at home with little or no equipment because we know you can’t always get to the gym!
These exercises will improve your balance, flexibility and core strength. You might need a chair or a wall help you keep your balance when you first try these, but eventually your goal should be to progress to a point where you can balance without assistance while swinging your leg.
Exercise #1: Forward/backward Leg Swings are a great dynamic stretch for both your hamstrings and quadriceps. 
Exercise #2: Cross-over Leg Swings will help to strengthen your abductors (gluteus medius) and adductors (inner thigh muscles).
If you have questions or would like to learn more balance, flexibility & core exercises contact Karin:

Comments Off on Core Exercise: Hot Footed Lizards

Core Exercise: Hot Footed Lizards

Category : Exercise

Here are two core exercises you can do anytime, anywhere….that’s the purpose of our exercise blog…to introduce new and fun exercises that you can do at home with little or no equipment because we know you can’t always get to the gym!
This week’s core exercises are great for your obliques. Hot footed lizards require you to lift your opposite  hand and foot from the floor and while in an upward or downward facing plank/bridge. Touching your opposite hand to foot is tricky, but with a little practice this makes for a great core and oblique exercise. Plus, it has a fun name: Hot Footed Lizard!
If you have questions or would like to learn more core exercises like these, contact Karin: