Training in a Community

Coach Tony and Professor Pete

After enjoying my favorite cardio workout for 6 months, I recently introduced a friend to kickboxing and she loves it. However, she admitted to me at brunch this week that her biggest concern is that of being a newbie and not being good at it. She said she’s been trying to spread the “burden” of training with her around the group so nobody is stuck with her very often.

My heart goes out to her because I know the feeling well. I felt the same way when I tried jiu jitsu, and still sometimes feel the same in kickboxing. When a quick search on the internet highlights the best of the best in every endeavor under the sun, it’s sometimes hard to be an awkward adult beginner in modern society.

Fortunately, at McHugh’s BJJ Academy, adult beginners are embraced and encouraged. Our kickboxing sessions are group classes with a Coach or the Professor teaching and guiding. But we also rely on each other to learn. After doing warmup drills. we partner-train. Everyone is inevitably at a different level of experience and ability. Eventually, we all work with someone at a different level than our own, with the more experienced teammates helping the newer members. And that’s the beauty of it!

First, I told her that no one is born a master of anything. Every single person on the mat started as a beginner somewhere along the line. Second, the more time you spend on the mat (#BOM or #BeOntheMat) training, the better you’ll be. You’ll get more lessons, train with more people, and learn faster.

Third, our jiu jitsu/kickboxing school is also a community. Although we improve as individuals, the school community improves at the same time. The better each of us becomes, the better partners we become to everyone else. It’s to our advantage to help newer members get better, because we then have better partners to train with. And we all improve by training with more teammates. It’s a great uplifting cycle!

Bottom line – it’s fun to mix it up and it becomes a win-win for everyone. If you’re concerned about being a beginner, find a place that encourages newbies, show up, train hard, learn, improve, and help your teammates do the same! It may take awhile but you’ll improve, your teammates will improve, and your school/community will improve.

McHugh Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
McHugh BJJ Facebook Page
McHugh Kickboxing Facebook Page

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Kickboxing Fun

Kickboxing at McHugh BJJ Kickboxing, Mt. Laurel, NJ

Kickboxing at McHugh BJJ Kickboxing, Mt. Laurel, NJ

About a year ago I tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and loved it. Unfortunately, my back didn’t love it as much as I did and I had to give it up. Since then, I’ve gotten busy with regular workouts with my trainer, training my own clients, and our local Rotary Club. I’m busy and loving it all. But I’ve always missed the fun and challenge of jiu jitsu and even more so, the people and the school where I was a student. McHugh Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy is a special place where I always felt welcome no matter how bad I was at the sport. (And I was so bad…) The Professor, the Coaches, and the other students are warm and welcoming, even as they try to choke you out. I can’t do Jiu Jitsu anymore, so I was excited that they started a Kickboxing class that I could attend without having to be a jiu jitsu student.

Awesome! The class runs 45 minutes and it’s a heart pounding session. The coach has us warm up by running around the mat to get our heart rates up, then ladder drills to work on fast footwork. Sometimes we do animal crawls to loosen up any muscles that remain tight. Then it’s on to the lesson. We partner up and drill with different punching and kicking combinations. Then we might do some conditioning work with the stand up bags, jump ropes, and kicking pads. Finally we cool down and stretch.

Kickboxing is a very athletic endeavor. It challenges me physically and mentally. The physical is obvious. You have to move and coordinate your upper and lower body to be in the right position to punch and kick the target. Surprisingly, I’ve found that I have to really concentrate mentally to get the combinations right and keep getting them right in succession. I’m not very good at it but I’m glad to be part of a great school again. And if I can get there 2 or even 3 times a week on occasion, maybe I’ll improve. I know I’ll have fun anyway. If you’re in the South Jersey area, check it out and join us. I guarantee you’ll get a great workout!

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Marlton Trainer Client Success Story – Ali

AFC Client Success StoryAt AFC, we love to celebrate every client success story! Congratulations to Ali who has lost 20 pounds and 11.5 inches overall since she started training with us only 3 months ago! Ali consistently trains twice a week at AFC. She watches her nutrition and gets her cardio in when she’s not at the gym, and it shows! She’s killing her workouts and feels better all around.

Ali’s workouts are varied and fun. She enjoys a wide variety of equipment such as machines, battle ropes, slam balls, dumbbells, TRX etc. She is also becoming stronger doing difficult body weight exercises. She loves to jump and we took a video of one of her early workouts.

Way to go Ali! Keep up the great work!

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Walking for Weight/Fat Loss

Walking for Fat Loss

My favorite (very cushioned) running/walking shoe: Asics Gel Nimbus.

Since I lost 45 or so pounds about 6 years ago, my overall fitness goal has been to maintain my new healthy weight. I found to my initial surprise that my weight fluctuates (normally, I might add) daily, weekly, monthly, and even seasonally. I weigh myself most days, not as a self-punishing exercise, but because I’m intrigued by the day-to-day changes that present themselves. I guess you could call fitness a passion for me, and the on-going quest for improving my body composition a hobby. That said, I have found that seasonal changes show up as the biggest variation in my body weight and composition.

Every fall, starting around Thanksgiving, for several reasons I let myself gain a few extra pounds. First, to enjoy the holiday foods that I only allow myself in Nov/Dec. Second, the leaner I get, the more subject I am to feeling the chill of winter. It makes sense that the less fat I have on my frame, the less insulation there is to keep me warm. I discovered early in my weight loss journey that below a certain body weight, I feel cold all the time, chilled to the bone, in fact. So five or six pounds extra over the winter doesn’t bother me. Until now.

Maybe I gained too much this past winter, or maybe my age or peri-menopausal hormone profile is starting to play a role in weight maintenance. Either way, I have had a terrible time losing the extra pounds this year. I started out by doing exactly what I’ve done every spring for 5 years, lowered my carbs, increased protein, lowered overall calories, and started doing a little more cardio. My strength workouts always remain 3 times a week, with an occasional 4th day thrown in. But the scale wasn’t budging. In fact, it started jumping upward. I thought I was doing everything right and I know my calories were down because I was hungry all the time.

This was crazy and I talked to my trainer about it. When he heard I was hungry all the time, he immediately had me increase my food intake, keeping it to mostly protein for satiety and muscle saving measures. Then I increased my cardio. But with my back not always feeling great, I had trouble doing HIIT in the form of stairway sprints or sprints on the elliptical. So I started walking… a lot.

I have an app built in my iPhone that acts as a pedometer and since I’ve broken every FitBit-type device that I’ve tried, I decided to use my phone. I’m getting 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day. And low and behold, walking is working. I’m walking outside, inside around the house, and on a treadmill. The weight is dropping off easily, even with the increased calories. I’m getting leaner and my strength isn’t suffering at all. I’m not hungry (most of the time). And the walking is not interfering with my strength workouts like sprinting and even steady state jogging did. I’ve never done so much low level cardio but it makes sense.

Walking for Fat Loss

A beautiful trail I enjoy walking.

I think there are a couple of reasons walking is helping me now. Even though I work out 3 to 4 times a week, I’m sedentary much of the rest of the time. Like many people, I’m on a computer or at a desk everyday. Even though I’m active as a trainer, I don’t have a full load of clients and until now, didn’t think to increase my “actively moving” time. Now I’m walking another hour or more of the day, although it might be broken into many 10 minute sessions. Taking the lead from my husband, who paces incessantly around the house when he’s on the phone for business, I’ve tried to do the same.

The second reason it’s working is that I’m intentionally going outside to walk in the fresh air at exactly the times when I know I get hungry. (The treadmill isn’t quite the same since I can’t get away from the kitchen.) If I’m walking, I’m not eating and it’s actually blunting my hunger. I’m also enjoying nature, listening to music, and I’m feeling more in control of what I eat when I do get around to having a meal.

Finally, I think the walking is keeping my metabolism up and running well. This means I can eat the higher calorie diet and still lose or maintain weight. It’s a fact that the older you get, the slower your metabolism. But it’s also true that increasing your activity can help you stay revved up. As I face turning 55 later this year, I want to be in complete control of my metabolism, my body, and anything I can do to stay young or at least stay functional as long as possible. I’m convinced walking is one of my answers.

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Congratulations to Superstar Lynda!


Congratulations to Superstar Client Lynda, who has done an amazing job in the 4 short months she’s been training with AFC owner Gary Hendri. Lynda works hard and her results show it. She has lost 20 pounds, 12 total inches, and 5% bodyfat. Way to go Lynda! Keep up the good work!

Here, Lynda tells her story.

“I am a 60+ overweight woman. I never played sports in my life, and have only been moderately active. I have issues with painful knees and hips, low metabolism, and I was on the verge of having to buy a new wardrobe. I tried Nutrisystem, Jenny, WW, and “losing weight with Oprah”, including multiple failed attempts with each plan. No joy. Enter Gary, who put me on a 3-point regimen of cardio, nutrition and high-energy sessions. He showed me several simple stretching exercises that made a huge difference! Within one month I could kneel at church again!

 I have never gotten a real handle on my weight or metabolism. But after 3 months of working with Gary, the results in my body and energy level have surpassed my expectations. My pain is gone. I have lost inches all over my body. I have muscles that “show”, and I am down a dress size (or two)!

 My boyfriend grades my butt size as “an eight, down two from a ten”.  He jokes that a “stealthy goose in the hallway” will likely miss the mark, because I’m so much smaller. I’m still thinking about a new wardrobe, but I’m thinking about downsizing now.

 Those are REAL results! And I’m not done yet !!

 I like Gary’s positive attitude, his energy, his vast knowledge base, and his ability to keep me focused on my goals.”

 –Lynda S.

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When You Hate To Exercise

When You Hate To Exercise

Do You Hate To Exercise?

I recently had a new client sit across from me and tell me she would rather clean my bathrooms than exercise. I, of course, was thrilled at the offer. But I had to decline and pressed her for more information. She said she had never been thin and didn’t expect to ever be thin. She just wanted to feel healthy and not get so winded when she moved around. Putting aside any goals I might have had in mind for her, I agreed that overall health and feeling well were worthy pursuits.

A lot of people hate to exercise. I think they have a limited view on what exactly it can be. Many of my clients have the unfortunate opinion that exercise is a grinding joyless chore that must be done to stay healthy. Some of them come in dutifully twice a week and let me put them through a workout that addresses all the major muscle groups. And that’s all they do all week. I’m kind of sad that they haven’t discovered the joy of moving.

If you’re looking to stay healthy and feel better, exercise is important but it doesn’t have to be a grind. You don’t have to be an athlete to start moving more. And that’s really all you need to do. There are hundreds of ways to get more active. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy doing. When you find something you love to do, it becomes a joy and not a grind. Some people start by focusing on one activity. And some try many things and love the variety.

If you want to start moving more, here’s a partial list of activities to try. Moving your body is a gift. Find something you enjoy doing, do it regularly and you will enjoy better health and wellness while having fun.

  • Weightlifting
  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Biking
  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • Barre
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Kickboxing
  • Golf
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ice Skating
  • Walking
  • Jump Roping
  • Gymnastics
  • Gardening
  • Frisbee Golf
  • Surfing
  • Roller Skating/Boarding
  • Skiing
  • Snow Shoeing
  • Step Aerobics
  • Softball
  • Fitness Challenges
  • Basketball
  • Hula Hoop
  • Sprinting
  • Triathlons
  • Volleyball
  • Bowling
  • Kickball
  • Croquet
  • Parkour
  • Trampoline
  • Geocaching
  • Boxing
  • Bootcamp
  • Squash
  • Hockey
  • Tai Chi
  • Tabata
  • Kettlebells
  • Waterskiing
  • CrossFit


25 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It
100 Fun Activities for Family Fitness
YMCA List of Activities

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