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The Best of Ask an Expert

The Horizon Fitness experts have answered a lot of great questions over the years, ranging from how to clean smelly workout clothes to incorporating more strength into fitness routines. They’ve helped new moms wanting to return to fitness after giving birth, to advanced runners looking to improve their half marathon time.

Do you have a fitness-related question for Coach Jenny Hadfield, Joli Guenther or Ken Grall? Leave a message in the comments or visit the Horizon Fitness Facebook page and they will answer it in an upcoming edition of Ask an Expert.

Here are a few of our most popular questions–and answers!

What is the best way to start running? I’ve tried and failed so many times and find it painful! (Read: How to Start Running)

As a new mom, there are days I can barely get a shower, let alone eat right and exercise. Do you have any tricks to help me lose the baby weight, while still caring for my newborn? (Read: Fitness for New Moms)

At the beginning of every year I hit the ground running, only to struggle with my workouts a few weeks later. Do you have any tips on staying motivated through the winter? (Read: Staying Motivated)

Help! I recently rewarded myself with some new workout gear for sticking to my training plan and they’re already getting stinky! Do you have any advice on the best way to wash workout clothes to keep them smelling fresh? (Read: Best Way to Wash Workout Clothes)



I’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of planking lately, but it intimidates me. Can you share some tips on how to ease my way into the exercise and different variations to get started? (Read: Planking Basics)

I’m looking for lower-impact ways to get my training in. Does riding my stationary bike for one hour at a medium level have the same cardio benefits as jogging for 4 miles at 12-minute miles? (Read: Running vs. Cycling)

I know I should incorporate more strength training into my exercise routine. Is it better to do it before or after my cardio activity? (Read: Best Time to Strength Train)

I’m a relatively new runner (I only run about 10 miles per week). How often should I be changing out my running shoes? (Read: How Often to Replace Running Shoes)

I’m going to be traveling a lot with the family this summer. What are some healthy foods and snacks I can pack during our family road trips? (Read: Healthy Road Trip Snacks)

Read more Ask an Expert articles.

Ask an Expert: Staying Motivated

At the beginning of every year I hit the ground running, only to struggle with my workouts a few weeks later. Do you have any tips on staying motivated through the winter? -Meghan

Congratulations on your strong start for the year! To keep your fitness efforts strong this winter (and continue rolling throughout the year) there are a few small changes you can make for a big impact on your day-to-day motivation.

  • A great place to start is by setting goals and scheduling reminders. What do you want to accomplish today, this week, this month? By scheduling your workouts, you make them an important part of your day.
  • Post encouraging notes where you’ll see them every day. Need a little inspiration?
  • Use fitness apps to set your goals and increase accountability. ViaFit (available on Horizon Fitness products) is a great technology that links your fitness equipment to popular fitness apps and trackers so you’ll never have to enter workout data.
  • Personal training and small group training can be another great way to hold yourself accountable and get some guidance and motivation. You can read more about the benefits of each type in this article.
  • Be flexible when you need to be. Miss your window of opportunity to do your workout in outside? Have a few indoor workouts handy when the daylight is in short supply and temperatures plummet.
  • Invest in the right layers to keep you comfortable on the days that the weather cooperates so that you can enjoy the mental lift that comes from time outdoors. If you enjoy running, snow shoeing, or skiing, schedule events or races throughout the winter to keep you motivated and in shape.
  • Finally, remember that everyone has an off day. If your schedule or the weather keeps you from finishing a planned workout, do what you can and hit it again tomorrow. Don’t let a minor setback throw you off track and away from your goal.




Keep up the great work and you’ll be well on your way to staying motivated no matter the season!

About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more on the Meet Our Writers page.

Selecting a Resolution That Will Stick

Question: I just invested in my first piece of home fitness equipment and really want to make a healthy start for the new year. Do you have any advice on setting a New Year’s resolution that will actually stick?

First of all, congratulations on committing to a healthy new lifestyle–no matter the time of year! Whether your goal is to lose weight, get healthy, or hit a PR in your next road race, New Year’s resolutions can help you get there. There are, however, a few easy tips to helping them stick.

Start by making a specific, realistic and time sensitive resolution such as breaking down a large weight loss into smaller monthly goals or sticking to three workouts per week. Once you establish your plan, develop a system of accountability, such as a journal, training log, or fitness app (including the ViaFit capabilities of many Horizon Fitness products.) This can help you to set your goals, break them down into attainable milestones, and easily upload workouts to demonstrate your progress over time.




Creating a record of your successes now will help keep you on track when your schedule gets challenging. Enlisting support, such as developing a social network, can also help to drive you to stick to your training plan.

Finally, find ways to celebrate and recognize your successes along the way, such as rewarding yourself every few weeks or once a month when you reach your markers of success. Best of luck in making this year your healthiest year ever!

Exercise at Work

Even if you’re getting in regular workouts, there are a lot of reasons to build more fitness into your day and yes, exercise at work. Research is demonstrating that spending your day sitting may undo some of the good from your daily workout and if you’re struggling to fit in your workouts, building in a little fitness at work can pay off by increasing calorie burn, strength, and flexibility. Ready to give it a try? Here are a few suggestions.

Before starting. Be sensitive to your place of employment’s tolerance for sweating in the workplace when deciding on the intensity of your workout. However, with co-worker and management support, you can greatly benefit from these strength training breaks in your workday and maybe even inspire others to join you along the way, too.

Strength training. Push-ups, squats, lunges, chair dips, and planks are just a few of the body weight exercises you can do at work by grabbing an empty bit of space. Keep a resistance band in your desk to add in rows, bicep curls, and weighted squats. If time is short, you can target one or two muscle groups at a time, such as alternating a wall squat (holding yourself in a seated position on a wall for 60-90 seconds) with tricep dips on a chair.

Cardio Boosts. Regular cardiovascular exercise during your day can lead to a healthier heart and metabolism, as well as increase your energy. You can work in walking, jogging, or jumping rope over your breaks, or focus on cardio boosts during your regular office activities. Try scheduling walking meetings rather than sitting whenever possible. Other common solutions are to take the stairs, walk or stand when taking a phone call, and deliver memos and messages in person, rather than emailing or leaving a voice mail.

Stretch and Reset. Spending the day sitting in your chair can lead to some pretty uncomfortable muscle imbalances. Try shifting your posture to include a hip opener by placing your ankle on top of your thigh while you are in a seated position at your desk. Let your top knee fall open, forming a triangle between the two legs. You can alternate this position throughout your day.

Office chairs are also a great for a twisting chest and shoulder opener. While seated, reach across your body and take hold of the arm or back of your chair with that hand. Deepen the movement by twisting through your middle back and breathing deeply. This is great for the shoulders, back, and digestive system.

You can also build in standing stretches during phone calls. Stretch your calves by stepping one foot back 2-3 feet and pressing down the heel. Challenge your balance while stretching your quadriceps and psoas by standing on one leg and taking hold of the top of your foot while pressing your knee down and towards the knee of your standing leg.

For more exercise at work ideas, check out this link from Fitness at work can range from a full lunch hour workout to simple stretching breaks during your phone calls. Whichever approach you choose, you’ll undo the negative health effects of spending your day sitting at your desk and gain both energy and fitness in the process.

12 Days of Fitness Tracking with ViaFit

ViaFit (exclusive wireless connectivity found on select Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness products) enables your equipment to share your workout data with your favorite fitness apps and other tracking devices like FitBit, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and more. With ViaFit, you’ll never have to manually enter your workouts anywhere because your equipment will do it for you. How easy is that? Simply visit to connect your equipment, manually track your efforts and set a goal. Your workouts will never be the same.

Keep an eye on the Horizon Fitness Facebook page December 12 – December 23 for the 12 Days of Fitness Tracking feature. You’ll learn a new fitness tracking tip everyday! We will be sure to post the full report here after the holidays as well, incase you miss a day.

Day 1: Don’t let busy holiday schedules ambush your healthy intentions. Set a modest, achievable goal that will help you ring in a healthy New Year. With ViaFit, you can identify simple goals, such as the number of workouts you’ll do before December 31st, keeping you on track for 2015.

Day 2: Be honest when entering your personal information into ViaFit and other fitness apps. Providing accurate information will provide you with more accurate data on your calorie burn and training impact, as well as get a better view of your progress over time.

Day 3: Consistency is key to making healthy changes. While your December schedule might be full, ViaFit lets you fit tracking seamlessly into your lifestyle. Enter your regular holiday activities, such as shopping, shoveling, and caroling, to demonstrate you’re consistently staying active, even when you struggle to fit in your workouts.

Day 4: Find a way to identify your successes! We all benefit from knowing we’ve done a good job. Using ViaFit or a journal to show a pattern of success can be incredibly motivating on the days that you can’t (or just don’t want to) stick to your workout plan.

Day 5: If you’re working on a major change in your weight or fitness level, set smaller goals along the way! This will make it easier to identify milestones along the way that you can use to mark your progress and reward yourself!

Day 6: The best fitness tracker is one where you are in control of your data. Technology like ViaFit lets you choose to be a part of a larger fitness community or social network…or keeps your information private. YOU share the amount that is right for you.

Day 7: When you are ready to push your fitness level further, understanding your past performance is essential. If your goal is to run or cycle faster in 2015, start tracking your performance now so you can view your history and build your future training program on your current performance.

Day 8: Hard work needs to be rewarded! Choose rewards in advance such as a night at the movies, bath products for post-workout recovery, or new workout gear. With ViaFit, you can stay motivated by setting goals and easily reviewing your performance and consistency.

Day 9: Don’t let one bad day throw you. Progress happens based on a pattern of decisions and is not undone by a single event. Track your nutritional choices and workouts so that your history of good choices can keep you motivated on tough days.

Day 10: Don’t underestimate the importance of a good nights sleep. Increased activity = increased need for recovery. Try including your sleep data in your tracking software and notice how your performance improves when you’re well rested.

Day 11: Find a group of friends with similar goals. With ViaFit, you can motivate each other in real life and take advantage of virtual technology to see each other’s progress. Knowing your best friend just finished up her workout can truly drive you to stick to your next training session.

Day 12: Consistency wins over occasional bursts of ambition. Try to do something each day that will take you closer towards your goal. You can track your successes seamlessly through the many apps that integrate with ViaFit, or use your Horizon Fitness equipment and let the workout data take care of itself.

Happy holidays–and fitness tracking!

-Horizon Fitness Staff

Ask an expert: Incorporating exercise into a busy schedule

Q: I always seem to find an excuse not to exercise. What are some easy exercises I can do to incorporate fitness into my busy schedule? — Sherry

Great question – and one that almost everyone can relate to. The big thing to remember is that scrimping on time doesn’t mean sacrificing quality in your workouts. Research shows that 10 minutes of exercise is enough to improve strength, endurance and flexibility. You can even use these 10 minute sessions throughout your day to add up to a full 30 minutes or more! The key is to include exercises that address all three areas of fitness: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. Here are a few suggestions:

  • It’s easy to squeeze in a little extra cardio using your home fitness equipment while watching television or waiting for the water to boil while you’re cooking dinner. If you find yourself having an extra few minutes to spare, include intervals after a 3-5 minute warm-up to really get your heart pumping.
  • Bodyweight exercises, such as squats and lunges for the lower body and push-ups, planks, and chair dips for the upper body will hit all of the major muscle groups and don’t require extra time to prepare your equipment.  You can work up to 20 reps of each and add additional circuits as time permits or set a stopwatch on your phone and complete as many reps as you can within 60-90 seconds (depending on your schedule), then move to the next exercise in a circuit style.
  • Yoga Sun Salutations are also a great way to finish or end your day and address all three components of fitness. You can add in a few postures targeting the hips, shoulders, and low back to help you sleep, or  balancing postures, such as tree pose and Dancer’s Pose to ground you and improve your concentration as you head  into your day.

One of the biggest challenges to any exercise program is fitting it in, so include reminders in your schedule or set an alarm on your phone or computer as you make these fitness breaks a part of your routine. Before long, you’ll be seeing big fitness gains from your “no time” workouts.

Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. To find out more, visit the Meet Our Writers page.

Interval workout basics

Interval training is one of the most effective ways to get fitter and burn more calories. The concept is simple and works for any piece of home fitness equipment. Constantly varying the intensity and anticipating your next recovery or push makes these workouts fly by. Increasing post workout demands for recovery, burns calories even after your training session ends. If you’d like to break out from preprogrammed settings and create your own customized workout, here are a few basic ways to include intervals in your workout routine.

Hills/Resistance: Whether you’re running or walking on your treadmill or elliptical, you can increase the incline to up the intensity without increasing the impact on your joints. Increasing resistance also works well for indoor cycles, mimicking the challenges of outdoor terrain. Increase your incline for one to two minutes, followed by recovery periods of approximately two minutes. This simple workout will get your heart pounding and improve your core strength while also training your quads and glutes to meet the demands of your summer activities.

Speed: Using your home fitness equipment for steady cardio sessions results in training your slow twitch (i.e. endurance) potential. Adding speed to train your fast twitch muscle fibers has a lot of benefits, including power for short periods of demanding exercise (like moving furniture or a round of summer softball) and increased calorie burn to maintain these metabolically hungry muscle fibers. You can build in brief periods of sprinting on your treadmill, elliptical or indoor bike to give you some of the benefits of a speed workout, without the wear and tear on your joints.

Heart Rate: With Polar Heart Rate monitors integrated into consoles of treadmills, ellipticals and exercise bikes, this is a remarkably easy way to gauge the intensity of your workouts. Design your own intervals on the fly by using speed and resistance to increase your effort, bringing your heart rate to at least 85% of your maximum. Alternate these pushes with recovery periods, returning your heart rate to below 70% of your maximum. Using heart rate rather than time ensures that your body is fully recovering during the easier periods of your workout and that you are pushing sufficiently during the hard periods, making your workouts more effective and keeping you strong to the finish.

Just one session per week will let you gain the benefits of interval training. As you adapt, shoot for two to four sessions per week. It’s easy to over train, so keep a recovery day between interval sessions to avoid injury and exhaustion. Enjoy your next workout and the benefits of interval workouts in your training plan!

Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. To find out more, visit the Meet Our Writers page.

Ask an expert: How often should I replace my running shoes?

I’m a relatively new runner (I only run about 10 miles per week). How often should I be changing out my running shoes? -Jared

Welcome to the wonderful world of running! Ten miles per week is a great running regimen and at that rate, the average running shoe will last about 40-50 weeks or close to a year. The general rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 350-500 miles but that can vary based on the following variables:

  • Style. Lighter weight shoes can break down more quickly.
  • Weight. A lighter runner may get more miles out of the shoes than a heavier runner.
  • Form. Someone who runs with a heavy foot strike will wear through shoes more readily than someone who lands lightly.
  • Variety. If you wear the shoes for other activities like kicking around, other sports, walking and site seeing, this will add on to the mileage.

The good news is you can develop a relationship with your shoes and along the way learn what works for you and your shoes. Here’s how:

  • Mark the date you purchased the shoes on the side of the shoe sole with a permanent marker to remind you of birth date and replacement date. You can also include this information if you use a paper or online log and keep track of the mileage on the shoes. There’s even an app called the Running Shoe Tracker – Shoedometer that tracks the mileage of your shoes.
  • Save your shoes for runs only and they’ll last longer.
  • Check the sides of the soles for wrinkling as this is often a sign that the shoes are breaking down.
  • Wash your shoes by removing the insole, wash with a mild soap (dishwashing detergent) and sponge or brush, stuff with newspaper or paper towel to dry.  Avoid putting your shoes in a washing machine or dryer as it will destroy the shoe’s materials.
  • If your shoes get wet on the run, simply stuff them with newspaper or paper towel to dry.
  • Avoid leaving your shoes in extreme elements like a car in the middle of summer or the dead of winter. Shoes can melt and freeze and it will break them down or even melt!

Overall, if your mileage starts adding up, you can purchase a second pair and alternate them run by run. You’ll get more time out of each pair and it will extend the overall running time.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.