Monday, January 27, 2014

Three Simple Ways to Get the Most From Your Employees

Photo Credit: Hire Velocity Blog

Corporations do many things to attract and retain top talent--from offering flexible work schedules to in-office benefits and perks such as beer on tap, catered lunches, and games (pool, anyone?). However, some are acting even more progressive by considering the health and well-being of their employees as a top priority. Many studies have shown that people are far more effective at their jobs when they are healthy, when they successfully manage stress, and when they feel positive and optimistic. 

A few ways these companies are increasing employee productivity by proactively addressing wellness, driving ROI right back to the organizations:
  1. Onsite Health and Fitness- from free cholesterol screenings to onsite gyms, yoga classes, and meditation. Companies that benefit the most are those that encourage and enable employees to engage with these offerings (i.e. health fairs, free group personal training, walking groups during lunch, fitness competitions, etc).  
  2.  Cafeteria Menus- Google is a shining example of a company that promotes health and wellness in its cafe, by placing healthy foods into the direct line of sight and relegating candy and high sugar products to less attractive containers that require more effort to access.
  3. The Human Factor- A little trust goes a long way. Treating employees like adults will result in increased loyalty and superior work product. This entails enforcing the No Asshole Rule and allowing employees the freedom to work wherever and whenever they are most productive (which for many, does not entail confinement to a cubicle or an open office environment from 9-5) and encouraging them to have lives outside of work (some even offer recreation allowances).
The bottom line- Happiness and health are two essential--often forgotten--ingredients to superior work product. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dance Fitness Myths Dispelled: The Naked Truth

Credited with extreme weight loss success stories and with adding the fun back into exercise regimens, dance fitness programs such as Zumba®, cardio dance, LesMills SH’BAM and BODYJAM, and yes--even pole dancing have become wildly popular. They’ve made their way into fitness clubs and studios as well as corporate gyms and wellness centers around the globe. 

Along with the large variety of programs comes a wide range of experiences. You may have heard one or more of the following myths. 

Myth: Dance fitness is less of a workout than other cardio classes. 
Truth: This may be the case with some freestyle classes, but licensed dance fitness programs are structured to provide a safe and effective cardio workout that includes multiple modalities of exercise, such as aerobics, plyometrics, and core conditioning. Their developers include exercise science gurus and many programs are tested in fitness facilities before being released. As with any fitness class, the calorie burn is proportional to your effort level. For example, an hour of Zumba® can sizzle upwards of 850 kcal. 

Myth: I don’t have any dance experience. I’ll be lost in the class. 
Truth: Maybe you’ve tried a dance fitness class and found the choreography to be too complex. The best instructors offer pre-demonstrations, verbal and non-verbal cues, and modifications. Our focus is not to prepare you for your So You Think You Can Dance audition, but rather to offer easy-to-follow moves that you can rock out from your very the first class. Oh, and while we’re at it, you also don’t have to be female and under 30 years old. Adult dance fitness programs are designed for men and women of all ages, for all fitness levels, and you will succeed even if you’ve never danced a step in your life.  

Myth: Dance fitness instructors aren’t certified  
Truth: Instructor certification is mandatory for programs that require licensing, such as Zumba®, LesMills BODYJAM, BTS Group Groove, FlirtyGirl Fitness, etc. Many instructors are also certified in group exercise and other fitness programs. I’ve found that my other certs --including personal trainer, yoga, and pilates--have helped me offer a more well-rounded, fitness-focused approach to my dance fitness programs. Some instructors also have prior training in various forms of dance and gymnastics. You can confirm active certification for any Zumba® instructor on

Myth: You have to wear neon colors and tassels to be part of a Zumba® class. 
Truth: OK, this one’s a softball. You should wear comfortable clothes and footwear as you would to any fitness class. But hey, I’m not discouraging tassels. If you want to sport the threads, check out the online store at Enter code Vidya10 at checkout and get 10% off. 

So what are you waiting for? Boogie on in to a dance fitness class and shake, shimmy, and twist the calories away. 

And that’s the naked truth.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Better in Groups

As children, our academic curricula itself was only part of the learning equation. The part that really prepared us for life was learning how to learn. 

What’s Your Style? 
The same goes for fitness as it does in academia. Many of us (myself included) enjoy the camaraderie and motivation of group exercise. Personal trainers learn to adapt to each client’s individual style, but how is this applied in group fitness or small group personal training situations when there is more than one style at play? 

In reality, while we may favor one style more strongly than the others, we all leverage a number of different techniques when it comes to learning. The three main ones are: 
-visual (seeing)
- auditory (hearing)
-kinesthetic (doing)

Since each group fitness participant favors a different blend of the three learning styles--for example, some need to see and even try an exercise in order to complete it successfully--instructors and trainers use all three to deliver a safe and effective fitness program. This is the reason you’ll see the instructor demonstrate the moves--and most often do them along with you--as well as call them out (cueing or coaching). Sometimes, the instructor pre-demonstrates certain exercises beforehand and gives kinesthetic learners a chance to perform them slowly before the group routine begins. 

To get the best possible group exercise experience, let your instructor know before hand which learning style you adapt most, and party on. 

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Personal Training Knows No Boundaries

I know personal training would help me live a healthy lifestyle, but I just can’t get to the gym for a scheduled appointment. This excuse actually does sound reasonable because most personal trainers are affiliated with one or two gyms or fitness centers, which can be a challenge for the client who is constantly on the go or maintains a highly inconsistent schedule. Just ask anyone in sales when was the last time s/he was in the same town on a twice-weekly basis. 

The last WordUp! article focused on co-working as a means to bring together people in similar professions from different companies to share ideas and work on their own projects in a community forum in conjunction with social media. 

Personal training also takes on a combined physical/virtual model. Social media-savvy personal trainers, like Julie Costa, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and IFBB Bikini Pro, and founder of JC Fit, have cultivated  full-service program bundles that include exercise, nutrition, and ongoing individualized  email support as well as packaged articles, e-books, and blog posts to accompany each plan. These offerings bring together the concepts of one-on-one customized training with group personal training for accountability and peer support with the added convenience and flexibiity of being able to complete the workouts anytime, anywhere. 

I asked Julie about the delivery and effectiveness of this model in the following interview. 

Julie, tell me a little about the typical JC Fit client. What’s the profile, and what are his/her fitness goals? 
There is no typical JC fit client. I love helping others to reach their own health and fitness goals!  My current clients range in age from 18 to 60 with a wide range of fitness goals. Most clients' fitness goals are geared towards weight loss however I also train clients with goals of putting on size/mass, clients who wish to get stronger, clients who are enlisting in the marines, clients who are going away on a week long ski trip and need to work on their endurance, clients who are competing in bikini and fitness competitions - as you can see there is no typical client. I'm here to help everyone reach their health and fitness goals.

How do you use social media to find new clients? 
Social Media makes it super easy to promote your business. I promote a lot of my online training via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have my own personal Facebook page and I also have a business training page for JC fit where I include workout and nutrition tips, and all things health and fitness. I post weekly challenges to get everyone excited about a new week as well as healthy recipes, workout tips, nutrition tips, etc. I also promote my online training programs and e-books on Facebook for people who are looking for a little more personalized attention. Social Media has made it so that I can work from anywhere and train clients from anywhere.

Do most of them complete your program successfully? 
The key to sticking to an online training program is checking in with your trainer/coach. When I don't hear from some clients for a prolonged period of time, I know that they are not being accountable on their end so I'll send a quick email to check in with them. By checking in weekly with me via email, clients can tell me what's working for them, what's not working, and what we can do moving forward to have success. My most successful clients are those that check in.

How have your clients reacted to the online and social networking aspects of the programs as opposed to 1-1 or group training they’d receive in a gym? 
I have just recently moved from Boston to Miami. In Boston, I had a handful of 1 on 1 personal training clients and taught a handful of bootcamp classes every week. For a lot of my clients, it's difficult to cut ties completely so enrolling them in my online training programs was ideal. Online training programs hold the client more accountable as they physically have to go and do the workout on their own, but each workout is written the same as if I were there training them in person. I really connect with my clients and my friends, they respect me and trust me so online training is the next step for them. I'm still having interactions with my clients weekly, it's working out great

What advice would you give to someone just starting out on a fitness and nutrition regimen who needs a little boost of motivation? 
With anything that involves change, it is best to start slowly. Most health and fitness programs fail within the first 2 weeks simply because we start off too strong, lose motivation and quit. A simple way to overcome this is to start off slowly and to actually enjoy the process. As we become more emotionally attached to our workouts, our new eating style, and our personal health and fitness goals, it becomes much easier to push ourselves harder. Remember that with every new journey, in this case a health and fitness journey, you must take baby steps to get there. Enjoy it and think of it as a new lifestyle adventure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bringing Social Back Into the Physical Realm through Co-Working

Online social networking has become all the rage in recent years as a way to build brands and communities and to engage on pretty much any topic you can imagine, from dating to radio, enthusiast groups, religion, politics, customer forums, etc.

The corporate office setup has become more virtual as well, with more progressive companies recognizing that they can eliminate geographic barriers and hire wherever the talent resides simply by adding “strong ability to work effectively on remote teams” to their list of desired skill sets. 

The remote workforce is a win-win endeavor. It saves the company in operational expense and ease recruiting challenges through access to a broader applicant pool, and it adds convenience, balance, and flexibility for the employee. Both enjoy the added productivity that comes with having upwards of 2 hours or more in commuting time each day re-allocated to work, networking, etc. 

But what about the employees who thrive on in-person office structures? Are they out of luck? Not at all. Co-Working facilities, such as Cambridge Co-Working Center earn their profits by facilitating the collaboration and camaraderie that many relish from sharing ideas in-person. This concept is not new, but it has traditionally been limited to people working for the same employer. Co-working in 2012 brings together entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, etc from different industries and companies to inspire and motivate one another. Many employees choose to split their time between co-working  locations and their home offices.

And of course, it didn’t take long for clever people to merge online social networks with in-person co-working. Meetup  groups have been emerging in various cities, including New York, Boston, LA, and Chicago, which gather people together for co-working opportunities that they create themselves. So now, freelancers and other self-employed professionals are taking advantage of co-working. 

The bottom line is that people are most productive, happy, and creative when they can work in the manner and style to which they can achieve the greatest success. Carry on.

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Want to Burn More Calories This Summer? Start in the Bedroom

That’s right. You can start your fitness regimen without even leaving your bedroom. 
According to a December 2011 Study by Sarah Jio (NY Times Co), Americans have sex 127 times per year --that’s an average of 2.5 times per week. 
With the continuing trend toward technological automation, leading to more and more ways to be sedentary and American schedules becoming busier and busier, it has grown increasingly difficult to squeeze in a couple hours per day for the gym so many people skip it altogether. This is a shame because many fitness and health professionals have found ways to achieve an efficient workout even despite time constraints. It is possible to achieve a meaningful workout in far less time.
You’ve likely heard many say that 20 minutes of exercise per day is better than none at all, and that you should work it into your daily routine. True story. You can park further away from your office, do butt clenches at your desk, walk during lunch, etc. can work on your cardio and muscle endurance and...umm..stamina...while enjoying a universal pastime in the boudoir. 
A few fun factoids* about calorie burn to help get you motivated:
  • Kissing: 68 kcal/hour
  • Massaging: 80+ kcal per hour
  • Having Sex: 144+ kcal per half hour
  • Making Out: 238+ kcal per half hour
Of course, getting a good workout shouldn’t be the only reason you engage in sexual activity, but it is certainly an added bonus. So if you’re at or below the national average of 2.5 times per week, try bumping up (no pun intended) your amorous activity. 

And then, take your partner by the hand and hit the gym together. 
Photo credit:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Social Networking Lessons From Grade School Children and Their Teachers

No more pencils, no more books....OK, that little sing-song is revealing just how long it’s been since I was in school. And another academic year comes to a close. Over the past year, I’ve spent the majority of my free time in the company of grammar school teachers, and have drawn some key lessons about social media from them and from their students that I apply to my dual professions- integrated marketing and fitness/lifestyle. 
Social Media Lessons For Corporate and Fitness/Lifestyle Marketers From Schoolchildren and Teachers:
  • It’s not about having the most toys or even the most expensive toys; it’s about having the best toys and convincing everyone else to want them.
  • It’s not about having the most friends (or customers or fans or followers); it’s about devoting your energy to those who are most relevant to you.
  • There are many ways to share what you’ve learned. The best way is to tell people with a few clear words and a loud voice.
  • If you boast about something great you can do (i.e. on the playground, bench press, or in a data security algorithm), be prepared to deliver or you will be like the boy who cried wolf.
  • Digital media is great but it doesn’t replace the ability to see, touch, hear, taste, and smell simultaneously. Play to all the senses.
  • You never know what a child (or customer, or training client) is dealing with outside the classroom. Be gentle. 
  • You may be good at baseball but fall short in gymnastics. Ask someone who is talented in gymnastics to help you. And then you help him in baseball. You both improve. That’s how it works.
  • If your parents do your homework for you, how will you ever learn? 
  • Your idea of “good” or “better” may be different from someone else’s. Understand what your students, teachers, clients, managers, etc. think is “great.” Perception is reality.
  • If you offend someone, say you’re sorry. If someone offends you, accept her apology. We’re all human.
  • Social forums are not just for complaints. If you like something, tell everyone you know. You may even wish to draw a picture. 
  • We can measure a lot of things: grades, revenue, member retention, etc. But some things--such as true causality for a purchase decision or enjoyment of phys ed and music classes--do not have established metrics. Yet, their benefits are substantial and lasting.
  • Misunderstandings and miscommunications happen despite our best efforts to avoid them. We’re human. It’s never just one person’s fault. Hug it out and move on. 
  • Share your snacks. You may be hungry yourself someday. 
  • You can succeed without someone else having to fail. We’re all better off if we just help each other. 
  • If you focus on the task at hand, you can complete all the major work before 2:00PM. 
  • If you hear it as a song, you’re more likely to remember it.
  • Along with titles such as Classroom Monitor, Prefect, Vice President of Marketing, and Personal Trainer come great responsibility across the entire matrix. Don’t just manage up. 
  • A group of like-minded people uniting for a common goal is extremely powerful. Want to know just how powerful? Ask any teacher who has tried to keep 32 second graders calm on a field trip. 
  • We are always learning, always growing, always improving. Enjoy the process.
And to all my teacher friends--any chance you could use your social media influence to convince corporations around the world of the value in having summers off? My thanks in advance. Oh, and one more thing--I really need a new sing-song. 
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