Should I Be Building Muscle?

Today on the blog, Julia talks about strength training and its place in a healthy fitness routine.

Strength training is one of those things that people can get really nervous about. Questions arise such as: Should I be doing it? What if I bulk up? Won’t I gain weight if I’m building muscle?

If you’re afraid of adding strength training into your workout regimen, don’t be. The truth is, there are myriad benefits to this kind of exercise. Working big muscle groups will challenge your cardiovascular system, and you’ll burn calories while you change your body composition. The great news about strength training is that it keeps your metabolism pumping for a few hours, even after you stop. That’s different from a run or a bike ride, where your metabolism goes down almost immediately after you stop. So if you’re looking to lose weight and burn more calories over the long-term, strength training is key.

Women often worry about “bulking up,” but we just don’t have enough testosterone in our bodies to create huge muscles like men. What will happen instead is that you’re much more likely to get lean and strong, and you’ll also see an improvement in your functional living. Did you know that women walk an average of three miles each day? This is much more than the average for men, and as one Ypsi Studio goer pointed out to me, women are usually carrying things as well! Kids, groceries, you name it. Strength training can help make these everyday activities easier.

If you’re looking for ways to fold strength training into your workouts, check out the Ypsi Studio calendar. One great way to start is Boot Camp, and you can always modify the workouts if you feel like they’re too challenging at first. There’s also willPower & grace, which builds strength and is aerobic, and don’t forget TRX with Shirley. You can always book sessions with our personal trainers too. If you have questions about this, don’t be afraid to ask. We’re a friendly bunch at Ypsi Studio, and we look forward to helping you achieve your fitness goals!

Looking Bad to Look Good

Today’s blog post comes from Lara Zielin, who teaches indoor cycling at the studio. She talks about how scary trying out indoor cycling was at first, and how tempting it was for her to stop working out, especially when she knew she wasn’t very good at what she was doing. But she didn’t let the journey stop there. Here’s the story in her own words:

Since many of us are making New Year’s resolutions (and trying to stick to them), I thought I’d tell the story about the first time I went to an indoor cycling class. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution per se, but it was definitely part of my plan to get in shape and try something new.

Can I just tell you? I WAS SO SCARED. Holy crap.

I mean, I really didn’t want to go. And also? I didn’t have a friend to go with me, so I was winging it solo. And having never done this before, I didn’t really know what to expect.

We all know that Ypsi Studio is a really community-oriented place. Well, imagine being on the OUTSIDE of the community and walking into a space where everyone knows everyone — except you. YOU are the outsider. And you are here to do something you’ve never done before.

Holy fishsticks, I was petrified. I was going to look like an asshat. And be on the outside of a tight group of people while I did it.

I’d love to tell you I didn’t look like a struggling newbie that first time on the bike. But I kind of did. I mean, everyone looks like a struggling newbie in their first ever indoor cycling class. But that’s kind of part of trying something new. You’re going to not look like a total professional for a while.

I’d love to also tell you that I was accepted into the fold at that first class and everyone wanted to make friends with me. But that wasn’t true either. I slunk in and out of the class, and it wasn’t until I’d gone a few times — and made the effort to talk with some folks — that I started making friends.

These days, I’m part of the fabric of Ypsi Studio, and I teach indoor cycling classes there. But the reason I’m saying all this is because it’s easy to think that just because I do those things that I never struggled with it. But I did. Big time. It took a while for me to get into the grove of the workouts, the people, and to find something I loved doing and wanted to stick with.

So when I do half marathons or teach classes or whatever — just know, I’m not a size six (far, far from it — in fact, double that number) and this stuff didn’t/doesn’t come easily to me.

So maybe our New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be to lose the weight or get to a certain fitness level, but rather to just keep on keeping on (“just keep swimming” as Dory would say) and to keep going back, again and again, even when we think we’ll never master whatever it is we’re attempting.

It’s okay to look like an asshat.

Just don’t stop there.

[This post originally appeared on]


Julia Looks Back, Looks Ahead

As many of us think about the start of 2013, I know we’ll be crafting New Year’s resolutions. What will we do better? What will we do differently?

This is all well and good, and goals are critical to success. But before you look ahead, I hope you’ll reflect on all the wonderful successes you had in 2012.

At Ypsi Studio, I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing people, day in and day out, and I know there are so many people reading this who kicked butt this year. 

For example, many of you ran races in 2012 that were big milestones. A first 5k, a first 10k, a first Iron Turkey, a first half-marathon, even a first Iron Man! And many of you set personal records when you ran said races. We call these “P.R.’s” and the number of times I heard the phrase “P.R.” this year was mind-boggling.

Many of you also challenged yourselves physically by beginning a personal training journey with Shirley, Josh, or another trainer at Ypsi Studio. These workouts are no joke, and I have seen the results firsthand. I am so proud of all of you who get up when it’s early, or when your muscles still ache from the LAST workout, and you do it even when you don’t want to. That right there is courage and grit and determination—all rolled up into one.

So many of you also got out of your comfort zones with Ypsi Studio classes this year. Whether it was giving willPower & grace a try, or TRX, or a group training class, or climbing on a bike for an indoor cycling class for the first time—I saw countless folks just getting out of their routines. I love to see that. Shaking it up, finding the workout you’re passionate about—these are keys to long-term success.

And I can think of so many people who have experienced a monumental physical transformation as a result of all this hard work. Weight losses, personal bests, added strength and confidence—this is what keeps me coming to my job day in and day out. This is the stuff that changes our lives. It is truly transformative, and I’m so excited by all of it. By all of you.

The community at Ypsi Studio is what knits us all together and keeps us on the right track. So for anyone reading this who is new to the studio, trust that the people you meet (and will become friends with!) will help you in your journey.

I thank all of you for making 2012 so great. Here’s to celebrating what you’ve all done, and to even more success in 2013!

Peace and love,


Cold-Weather Workouts

And suddenly, it was cold.

Our incredibly warm summer made it seem like the weather might never change but, lo, the frigid temps are upon us once again. But don’t let that stop you from having an awesome outdoor workout. Would you believe working out in the cold is actually good for you? Studies show that working out in cooler temps can boost endorphins, not to mention burn more calories because your body is working harder to stay warm.

That said, it’s also important to stay protected when the temps drop. Here are four tips for safe, effective outdoor workouts:

Layers, layers, layers. Starting out warm and shedding layers as you go is a great way to ensure your body temp doesn’t plummet while you exercise. You can always off a sweatshirt or fleece when you get warm — that’s a lot better option than freezing and not having the right clothes at all. There are many lightweight but warm jackets and tights made especially for outdoor workouts. Consider investing in warm workout clothes that won’t weigh you down — you’ll be so glad you did!

Head, hands, feet. Eighty percent of body heat is lost from the head, if you can believe it. Which is why protecting your head and ears will be crucial to staying warm during an outdoor workout. Even just a headband over the ears will go a long way toward protecting your whole body. Other extremities, namely hands and feet, should be covered, too. These will likely be the first places to get frostbite or go numb if left uncovered.

Keep drinking that water. It’s easy to think you don’t need just as much hydration when it’s cold as when it’s warm, but you absolutely do. Make a conscious effort to gulp down some H20 to keep your body healthy and hydrated.

Check the windchill. The temperature might read thirty degrees, but make sure you check the wind chill readings as that can make it much, much colder. Personal comfort will determine part of your ability (or desire) to get outside and exercise, but if the thermometer dips below 0 degrees (F), that’s the point at which it’s truly unsafe. For reference, the Ypsi Studio running group doesn’t go out if the temp goes below 20 degrees (F).

If outdoor exercise isn’t your thing, don’t worry — Ypsi Studio has lots of great indoor classes for you to choose from. Whether it’s indoor cycling or willPower & grace or boot camp (or any other of our many, many classes!), the weather doesn’t have to dictate your workout schedule.

[Photo credit: Flickr/tcd123usa, used under creative commons licensing]

Fast Fitness

Short bursts of intense exercise can give your workout routine an added boost. Studies link sprinting with increased cardiovascular capability and improved muscle health. In one test, a group of cyclists witnessed a ten percent increase in performance after doing sprints for just two weeks. Wow! The thing is, sprinting is kind of … hard. Not many of us do it. The good news is, there are easy ways to fold sprints into your workout. Here are three ideas:

1.) No matter what your workout is, do a quick series of sprints before or after the workout. For example, if you’re headed to a willPower & grace class, hop on the treadmill beforehand. Do three 15-second sprints, resting for a minute in between. It won’t take long for you to notice a difference!

2.) If you’re in the habit or jogging, go all-out for the last part of your run. Many of us do a 5k on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and use the last quarter-mile or so for a sprint. It helps get our endurance up overall, and actually improves our long runs! On weekends, some Studio members get together and do interval training after a run. Check the Ypsi Studio running group page for details.

3.) Try a class that offers up a mix of exercise options, such as spin-bootcamp. This will get you on a bike, pedaling quickly, but then will also have you challenging yourself by lifting weights or squatting or pushing around fire hoses. It will definitely challenge your aerobic capacity!

[Image source: Shutterstock]