AVOID NEW YEAR’S SCALE SHOCK: Torch Calories When You’re Crunched for Time

We talked to this year’s Best of Philly trainers for tips and tricks on how to max out your workout when you’re maxed for time—and even scored you a deal with a personal trainer

Between fighting holiday traffic, crossing off your gift list, attending holiday parties, and supervising the kids’ cookie-baking sessions, there’s about a million little oh-so-jolly things that can get in the way of your regular workouts. Combine that with the nonstop onslaught of yummy treats, and you’ve got an equation for extra holiday jiggle around your middle come January 1st.

To help you avoid the annual New Year’s scale shock, we talked to a few of Philly’s finest personal trainers for simple ways to up your calorie burn in and out of the gym this season. Check out their six smart ways to burn off that extra cup (or two) of hot cocoa, and still have time for last-minute wrapping.

Spring for a trainer. Yes, it’s an additional expense, and yes, you’re stretching your pennies these days, but if you’ve always wanted to try a personal trainer and never got around to it, the holidays are one of the best times to do it. When you’re paying for a one-on-one workout and have it penciled in your planner, there’s way less of a chance you’ll skip it. And from now until January 1st, readers who mention Healthy Life to David Salzberg, a personal trainer at Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, will get one free session when they book three (209 Penns Trail, Newtown, 215-968-0600, newtownathletic.com).

Wear sneaks to work. The walk to the office can easily turn into a cardio workout, says Anthony Molino of Fitness Works. “Fast walk for two city blocks, followed by a light jog for one block,” he says. “This will get your heart rate up, increase your cardiovascular endurance and burn more calories in the process.” If you’re a commuter, try to get out on your lunch break for a quick power walk. Just 20 minutes of window shopping up and down the block at a brisk pace can burn between 75-100 calories, roughly the cost of one of grandma’s famous gingersnap cookies. Do it every day of the workweek all month long, and you’ll have burned off 2,000 of those unwanted calories.

Get two-for-one. If you can make it to the gym but are short on time, Mat Fina, a personal trainer on the Main Line, says to try consolidating several exercises into one, swift movement. For example, hold a dumbbell in each hand and do bicep curls at the bottom movement of each lunge. Not only will your workout be more efficient, but it will keep your heart rate up, which burns more calories while you tone.

Pack a band.
David Salzberg, a personal trainer at Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, advises investing in an exercise band because they’re versatile and easy to pack — making them perfect for workouts on the road or somebody’s guestroom. “With a band, the tension is constant, so it’s much more intense and very efficient as result,” he says. For instance, if you’re pulling an exercise band for a bicep curl, the resistance is constant from start to finish, as opposed to a free weight that gets easier to lift when you’re halfway through the curl. Try it: Standing, secure one end of the band under your foot and hold the band’s other end near your hip. Pull it up for a bicep curl, slowly letting your hand back down to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Speed up your sweat. Interval training will burn more calories in less time, says Shultz. If you’re on the elliptical or treadmill, turn up the machine’s resistance and/or increase the incline. Then pick up the pace for two to three minutes. Follow that cardio burst with a lower-resistance, slower-paced recovery session of the same time, and then repeat for 30 minutes. You’ll get an hour’s worth of cardio and calorie-burning for 30 minutes of effort, says Shultz.

If you’re strength training, try a weight circuit that uses maximum effort with little to no recovery in between moves. “Do as many push-ups as you can, shake it out, then go straight to the pull-up bar,” says Shultz. “Then do as many squats as you can, or some bicep curls. Whatever you do, make sure you hit all major muscle groups: chest, back, legs, and core.” Sounds brutal, but it’s the best way to build strength and endurance when you’re crunched for time.

Heat up housework. If getting a regular workout isn’t happening, take advantage of household objects. Instead of pumping iron, Fina suggests pumping tin. “You can grab soup cans and do different exercises with them, using them as dumbbells,” he says. “I’ve also known some people to try doing lunges while vacuuming.”

Try this at-home exercise to work your legs: Stand with your back against the wall, and slide down until thighs are parallel with the floor (you should feel the tension in your quads). Hold the wall sit for 30 seconds, three times, for a total of 90 seconds.