Tag Archives: strength training

Excel Fitness’ “Our Biggest Loser 2013” Participants Lose Over 100 lbs in Just Two Months

The 26 men and woman who enrolled in the Excel Fitness “Our Biggest Loser 2013” competition have put in countless hours logging their meals, adhering to a plan for healthy eating, and sweating tirelessly to shed weight and body fat with the hopes of winning this year’s grand prize: $325 CASH!!!

The competition, which ran from January 18, 2013-March 15, 2013, “has had a huge impact on client’s ability to set and stick with otherwise tricky New Year’s goals to lose weight, get active, and feel great,” says Excel Fitness trainer Ilicia Balaban. Long time Excel Fitness member and personal training client, Mary Flynn explained, “I joined the [Our] Biggest Loser contest to get re-motivated in my weight loss efforts.”

Upon entry, participants scheduled a brief meeting with one of the Excel Fitness certified personal trainers to record initial weight and body fat. Participants were encouraged to take advantage of special training offers like a free 60-min personal training session with the purchase of four or more OR 10 percent off small group training classes. Many participants took advantage of the special offers, augmenting their oft-strenuous cardio sessions with uniquely designed weight training, calisthenics, plyo-metrics, kick-boxing, stretching and other effective exercise techniques.

Results were computed following the final weigh-in on March 15th; weight loss and body fat loss were divided by starting weight and body fat to achieve a relative number, making the competition fair for all participants, regardless of how much excess weight the individual was hoping to lose.


1ST Place:Tomas Nenortas: $325 grand prize

3rd and 1st Places Winners Leona Gwaz and Tomas Nenortas show off their hard won prizes!!!

2nd Place: Ryan Friedman: Two, 60-min personal training sessions ($160 value)

3rd Place: Leona Gwaz: Sony MP3 Player ($150 value)


Of the initial 26 enrollees, 14 individuals completed the final weigh-in, and their weight/body fat loss numbers were astonishing. Altogether, Excel Fitness “Our Biggest Loser 2013” contestants lost over 100 lbs and reduced their body fat by an average of 1.4% per person.              Winners Leona Gwaz and Tomas Nenortas show off their prizes

Excel Fitness offers a clean, state-of-the-art, intimate, personal fitness center. Our staff consists of seven nationally certified personal trainers, with a range of specialties, from weight loss and strength building, to injury rehabilitation and sport specific training. Excel Fitness offer personal training, small group classes, regular memberships, CPR/AED certification training, and massage therapy.

Excel Fitness is located at 589 New Park Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110.  Call to schedule a complimentary initial workout and assessment or go to www.excelfitnessct.com for more information.


The Truth About Core Training

Your “core” in comprised of abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, and obliques) and the muscles of your lower back. When these muscles contract appropriately, they alert your spine that weight is about to be lifted, requiring proper bracing to maintain alignment and safe, effective movement. Training the core muscles is a crucial component to any strength training or exercise routine, however, like all other muscle groups, your core should be treated with care as well.

While it is safer to work your core more often than other groups, intense abdominal routines should not be performed on concurrent days. Before you lift any weight, check in with your body and ask, “What would my body like from me today?” If your abs or lower back are already talking to you from exercise done earlier in the week, lay off for the day and give them proper time to recover.

If you’re feeling strong and ready to go, try the following move to kick start your core routine:

Plank Tap-out: Begin in a low plank position on your forearms and toes. Begin to tap your feet in right, right, left, left (or whatever pattern feels good to you) for 30-45 seconds. Focus on keeping your ribs moving towards your pelvis and you lower back vertebrae lifting up to maintain space in your spinal column.

For more information on the benefits of core training or to learn some new moves to incorporate into your existing routine, call Excel Fitness at (860) 523-8167 or stop by today and schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our trainers!

Core Focus

Core Focus

Ilicia Balaban ACE C.P.T. 3/21/12

My clients are sick of hearing it: “Use your core, tighten your abs, focus your breathing on contracting your stomach.” Core conditioning continues to be a foundational building block to unlocking true fitness potential. Good fitness is characterized by performance in five areas: aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. Every single one of these categories and additionally, balance, stability and coordination, is affected by core strength.

Your core in composed of several difference muscles including the rectus abdominus (the pretty muscles that compose a 6-pacK), internal and external oblique’s, transverse abdominus, multifidus and erector spinae (lower back).  Too often in an attempt to achieve a flat stomach, individuals pay extensive attention to the rectus abdominus and obliques while virtually ignoring the other muscles. For sufficient core strength and to reap the benefits of increased balance and stability, equal attention must be given to all core muscles. The transverse abdominus (TVA), often the most overlooked of the core muscles, is arguably the most important with regard to regulating proper form, support and distribution of weight during exercise. Basic crunches and sit-ups do not work the TVA to the extent that a plank or full abdominal extension and contraction (like on a BOSU or Stability Ball) does.  For example try a single leg plank or BOSU single leg rotational crunch.  Additional attention must also be given to the muscles of the lower back as they work in to promote stability and provide support in a balanced training regimen.

The best part about abdominal strength training is that most any exercise can be become a core focused movement with a little modification. First and foremost, remember to engage your core upon lifting any weight, regardless of difficulty, direction or momentum. Bracing ones core means contracting the abdominal muscles much in the same way you would contract any other muscle, your bicep for example. Bracing DOES NOT mean sucking your gut in. You should be able to breathe normally with your abs contracted. Then add a balance challenge. Performing a simple movement like a bicep curl or overhead press on one foot or on a BOSU ball will add inherent core dynamic. Spending a little extra time and focus on training your core muscles both in the gym and throughout daily activities will promote increased balance, coordination, and build a stronger foundation from which other aspects strength, endurance and cardiovascular training will prosper. For more information on adding core training exercises to your workout please see one of our experienced trainers.

Training for a Marathon? “How can I run faster?”

Training for a Marathon?  “How can I run faster?”

by: Shawn O’Brien

Many novice runners ask the question, “How can I run faster?”  The answer is, RUN FASTER!!!!

Most marathon and half marathon training schedules have 4 types of days: Pace Run, Tempo Run, Long Run and Cross-Training.  These days are meant for you to run different speeds and train different muscular movements each day.  These days don’t mean run the given mile distance the same speed for each day, for example the pace per mile on a Pace Day should be slower than the minute per mile time as the Tempo Run, and the Tempo Speed will be faster then the Long Run times per mile.  You will avoid injury and over-training if you can integrate the different speeds and strength programs to your training schedule

All of the days should have different speeds and most importantly you should incorporate speed conditioning into your workout, as well as strength training (Full body or Upper and Lower split routines work well).   For more information click on the key words in this article.

The below photos are a speed workout I would have a client go through, who is training for an endurance event, off-season sports conditioning or anyone looking to mix up their workout.  At Excel Fitness, this is an example of sprints and speed conditioning in a parking lot and using an agility ladder in-doors to work on form and coordination.

If you have any questions about your conditioning program I am open to questions.  sobrien@excelfitnessct.com