Evan McWilliams’ Fuse Fitness Success Story!


Hi Fusers!

This month we are giving a big shout out to one of our longest members, Evan McWilliams, who has been working out at Fuse Fitness since 2011. He started out with personal training and now is one of our most regular class attendees. Since his first class in 2012, he has logged in 425 hours of workouts (not including personal training sessions). WOW!! And that doesn’t even touch on the many hours/miles of hiking/running he has logged outside the gym.

As most of you know, Evan always walks in barefoot (even in the winter when it’s RAINING!!!), shoes in hand, baseball cap on, and pretends to be the grumpiest person you’ve ever met. While he does a very good job of being grumpy, he really is one of the nicest and funniest people at the gym.

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We first met Evan in 2011, and had the pleasure of training him one-on-one. He was gifted some training sessions from a friend of his who had done work for Pascha and me when we opened Fuse. Evan’s friend kindly allowed Pascha and me to do a trade with him, as he knew we were a brand new business working hard to get on our feet. As the story goes, Evan had helped out his friend by taking care of his children while his wife was battling and beating cancer. In return for Evan’s generosity and friendship during this time, he was gifted the training sessions.

Pascha and I both trained Evan in the beginning for the traded sessions. At first, I’m not sure he was entirely enthused or excited to have been gifted the training sessions, however he had to use them. I wasn’t sure whether he would continue after those sessions were done, but he did, and as time moved forward, a new Evan emerged. During this time, I got to know him quite well, and learned quickly how dry and sarcastic his sense of humor is, which I find to be hilarious. It was clear that getting over that initial hump of starting a new, intense fitness program was challenging, however his consistency and hard work paid off. I really began to see big changes in Evan….he became really motivated and confident, and awesomely stayed grumpy. However, I quickly came to see that while perhaps the initial grumpiness when he first started training was real, the new grumpiness wasn’t quite true. But he does do one hell of a job pulling it off 😉

 

Here are a few words from Evan himself:

I developed epilepsy in my late twenties and had a doctor tell me all the things that I should not do. I took what he said to heart and basically became sedentary. I had been in law enforcement so had been in okay shape, but spent the next couple of years feeling sorry for myself and gained a ton of weight. When I left police work I started working for an outdoor apparel company that placed a huge emphasis on being active. I did not want to stand out as “that guy” so started to run on my own. No training, no coaching, just running, because I was too self-conscious to workout with other people.

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I lost some weight and ran three marathons in one year (despite my doctor’s warning) and realized that I was physically one-dimensional. I could run forever, but I was doing nothing but aerobic exercise. I wanted to see if my times improved as my fitness level became more well-rounded. A friend of mine did some work for Pascha and Kristin when they opened Fuse. He worked out a barter with them for personal training. He gave those training sessions to me. My first session was with Pascha. All I remember was feeling completely out of shape, and her saying, “Oh, Evan” as I struggled during the workout.  All I wanted to do was get into decent shape and be done. I figured I would work out for a few months and then continue working out on my own. I had no interest in the classes, but would watch them as I worked out with Kristin, and they looked really fun.  I eased into one class a week taught by Kristin, but it took another year or two for me to work out with a different trainer because I don’t like change.  Now, I try to be in class 5-6 days a week.

All of my fitness challenges have been self-inflicted. I have developed a knack for hurting myself. I have blown out my back, broken my foot, developed tendonitis in both elbows and just last month I had a bunch of stitches put into my knee. In the past I would have felt sorry for myself and probably quit. Now, I see these challenges as a way to figure out how to work through the injury. I was working out with Kristin while in my cast. I was back working out the day my stitches came out. And recently I have started to do 20+ mile walk/hike/runs to compensate for my elbow issues.  I still struggle with being 50 and not being able to do everything that I used to do. Everyone at Fuse is here for their own reasons. There is such a supportive feel here. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest, slowest or strongest…it matters that you are here doing what you need to do for yourself! I have NEVER had that feeling working out in any other environment.

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My biggest [fitness] success was finishing the Spring Cleaning Challenge (clean-eating, fat loss challenge) last year. It came at the right time, as I was training to climb Mt. Rainier. It showed me that I could successfully complete something (while hurt) and finish what I had started in a strong manner. I ended up losing 35lbs which was a huge benefit for the climb. After climbing Rainier, I started to look at things differently, and now I try to find things that a couple of years ago I would not have even tried. Right now, I want to do an unassisted hand-stand. For no other reason than 50-year-old men are not generally known for their handstands!  I also want to be able to keep up with my family. Both my wife and son are major outdoors people. We spend an awful lot of time hiking and mountaineering. I want to be able to keep doing that for my entire life.

I LOVE the atmosphere at Fuse. There is such a nice support network here. People check on you if you have missed class. They welcome my son whenever he shows up. AND they hold you accountable in the best possible way. I know when I am slacking, and I love being called out on it because it shows me they want me to do the best that I can!

Evan, while this tells the story of how your fitness journey at Fuse began because of a gift from a grateful friend, the way I look at it, the gift was really to us. You have become one of our most loved and appreciated members at Fuse! We are very proud of how far you’ve come and all the awesome, positive changes you have made. Thank you for your support. AND STAY GRUMPY!!!!

If you’re interested in joining Fuse Fitness and becoming one of our next success stories, please fill out the form below to sign-up for a free fitness consult.

In Full Swing


Hi Fusers!

I just want to say, you all did a damn good job with those burpees last month. I know you have probably never hated us more than during the month of March, but hey, it’s time to move on—forgive and forget.

Here we are, the beginning of April, and spring is quickly swinging into action. The rain has finally stopped, the sun is out, the days are longer, flowers are blooming, and we are swinging. Ok, so that last thing doesn’t really fit the sentence. However, while spring swings into action, we will concurrently be swinging kettlebells. This month, we are focusing on an actual favorite exercise at Fuse (opposed to last month’s “favorite”)—the kettlebell swing.

A brief bit of histrory—kettlebells were developed in Russia during the 1700s and were mostly used as a way for farmers to measure crops. Beginning in the 20th century, Soviet athletes began to use kettlebells as part of their training (Wikipedia). What makes the kettlebell unique is it’s design; unlike a dumbbell or barbell, the center of mass is extended beyond the hand, allowing the athlete to incorporate power and swinging movements into his/her program.

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At first glance, the swing looks very similar to a squat and front shoulder raise. However, it is not that, and it is extremely important to learn proper technique to ensure safety as well as get the most out of this powerful, all-encompassing exercise.  So let’s break it down.

The kettlebell swing is an explosive, ballistic exercise that trains the posterior chain of your body—primarily your hips, glutes, back and core. It is composed of a hip hinge movement in which you drive your hips straight back behind your centerline, pulling the kettlebell back between your legs just below the groin. It is imperative to keep your core tight and spine neutral spine/back straight. Your shins stay completely vertical, unlike a squat where the knees track over the toes, creating an angle of <90° between your shins and the floor.

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photo credit Onnit Academy

This movement pattern loads up the glutes and hips, which are extremely strong and powerful muscles. At this point you snap your hips forward powerfully, propelling the kettlebell upward. You maintain loose, straight arms, as the effort comes completely from your hips/glutes/core, and has nothing to do with your arms. While your arms help to control the kettlebell, you shouldn’t use your arms or shoulders to pull it up.

This movement pattern loads up your glutes and hips, which are extremely strong and powerful muscles. At this point you snap your hips forward powerfully, propelling the kettlebell upward. You maintain loose, straight arms, as the effort comes completely from your hips/glutes/core, and has nothing to do with your arms. While your arms help to control the kettlebell, you shouldn’t use your arms or shoulders to pull it up.

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As the kettlebell reaches its top end range of motion, usually around 45° out from your body, your glutes and abs flex to stop your hip motion so that you do NOT lean back and use your lower back muscles to pull. Your body should be in a completely vertical position, like a standing plank, with your core and glutes fully engaged. If your core is not engaged, you will put too much stress on your spine, causing your lower back, rather than your glutes, to do the majority of the work.

As the kettlebell begins to drop back down, make sure to be patient and wait until it has traveled almost all the way back down before beginning to hinge your hips back by moving your hips out of way. If you begin to hinge too early, you risk the kettlebell coming down much closer to the knees than it should—it should stay right below your groin.

So that’s the breakdown. Pretty technical, which is why we’re going to focus on perfecting it this month. When done correctly, it’s an amazing full-body exercise that is great for both conditioning and muscular endurance.

Keep up the great work Fusers!

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

p.s. If you’re interested in learning how to do a kettlebell swing, want to work on your form, or are simply looking for an awesome strength and conditioning program, fill out the form below to sign-up for a free fitness consult.

Burpee-the most badass exercise on the market (did I sell you?)


Hi Fusers!

It’s March!! Woohoo, spring is just around the corner, and I’m pretty sure we’re all sick of the rain. So here’s to sunny, drier days ahead! And burpees.

That’s right, although that looks like a misplaced word in the paragraph above, I want to assure you that you read correctly. This month we will be focusing on burpees. I know, I know….here’s what you’re all thinking….

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The poor burpee. Seriously, for an exercise that is so incredibly effective and efficient, why can’t there be more love for it?! Did you ever think about that? Well guess what??

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I get it. Burpees are hard AF. However, they get results, and that’s what we’re after, right?Burpees are a full body exercise that work pretty much every muscle in the body, meaning that you can burn more calories in a lot less time. They help you develop strength, explosive power and anaerobic endurance. And conveniently, they can be done anywhere with no equipment necessary. That’s right, ANYWHERE. So next time you’re at Whole Foods….just saying 🙂

According to Wikipedia, the burpee was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee who developed the burpee test. As part of his PhD thesis, he created the burpee as a simple way to assess fitness. The exercise became popular during WWII, when it was adopted by the US Army to assess the fitness level of recruits. Originally, the burpee consisted of four steps:

  1. Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you.
  2. Jump feet back into plank position
  3. Jump feet forward.
  4. Return to standing.

Today, it is commonly done as a 6 step exercise:

  1. Bend over or squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet.
  2. Jump both feet back into plank position.
  3. Drop to a push-up—your chest should touch the floor.
  4. Push or snake up to return to plank position.
  5. Jump feet back in toward hands.
  6. Explosively jump up into the air, reaching arms straight overhead.

Here at Fuse, we generally do the 6 step variation, and prefer this definition:

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Commonly done among inmates….so this month, you guys will be our inmates, and we will be working on the most badass exercise around.

The challenge for the month will be to increase your burpee stamina and will be tested as such: 5 rounds of 60 seconds of burpees followed by 60 seconds of rest in between rounds. You will tally the total amount of burpees you do in all 5 rounds, and that will be your score. Each week, you will perform this challenge (you only need to do once a week, you will have something else to do during this time if you have already completed yours for the week) and the goal is to improve your score each week. We will be giving out prizes to the awesome coffee cart at Flowerland on Solano Avenue for best improvements. However, the strategy is not to go super slow the first week on purpose just to win. While we will be awarding the biggest improvements, we will also be taking into consideration the best efforts all the way through the challenge.

Alright, let’s do this! And maybe, just maybe, we can get just a few likes for the dreaded burpee by the end of March.

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At the very least, Pascha and I will increase that number to 2 people 🙂

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

Time to get Running!


Hi Fusers!

January is quickly coming to an end, and we’ve had a great month focusing on interval training….all day, every damn day. Whew. It’s been tough, but awesome! Those first days of the month were rough for many of us, coming off of the holidays and trying to get back into a routine. There is just no better way to break up a rut than to go all out with intervals—not necessarily fun, definitely not easy, but certainly effective.

So now we should be back on track, kicking ass again, and feeling back to normal. Thanks interval training 😉

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February is heart health month, so naturally we’re going to focus on cardiovascular health. Since we just spent all of January doing high-intensity, shorter intervals (which is definitely cardio), we are going to shift our focus to longer periods of work/endurance training. Aerobic endurance is the ability to work for longer periods of time without tiring (mayoclinic.com). Which brings me to our challenge of the month—the 1 mile run. Gasp. 

Don’t think for a minute that I didn’t hear the collective gasps that just happened reading that sentence. I hear all the time how much everyone hates running. Why is that? Because it’s hard. You’re right, it is hard. However it is good cardio training. While certainly not the only way to improve cardiovascular health, it is one way, and it is the way we have chosen for this month’s challenge.

We will be having two outdoor bootcamps coming up to run the mile for time. For those who truly can’t run, definitely still come to the bootcamp, we will have something else for you to do to work on your cardio. Here are the dates:

  • Sat. Jan. 28th at 10am—Albany Middle School track
  • Sat. Feb. 25th at 10am—Albany Middle School track

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Be ready for more running, rowing and longer interval training workouts during February to prepare you to better your mile run time, but more importantly, improve your cardiovascular health.

Without further adieu, I’m going to leave you with some facts about heart health/heart disease. In case you need further convincing why you will come to the bootcamps and run. Without complaining. Preferably with a smile on your face. Ok, that may be pushing it 😉

One in four deaths in the United States is caused be heart/cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women (theheartfoundation.org). Despite those grim statistics, one’s risk of having heart disease can be significantly reduced by making healthy choices. We truly have so much power over this disease.

Some of the ways in which you can reduce your risk of heart disease are (theheartfoundation.org):

  • Keep a healthy weight; more importantly, keep a healthy level of body fat. It is entirely possibly to be a “healthy” weight but have too high a level of body fat. Conversely, it is also completely possible to have a higher weight with a low/healthy level of body fat. Muscle weights more than fat.
  • Quit smoking. It is the singular most important thing you can do to prevent so many health problems.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Cut out processed food. Drastically reduce sugar intake. Consume a lot more vegetables. Cook at home. Eat clean.
  • Manage anger and stress. Meditate, listen to music, play an instrument, make time for yourself. Breathe. Life is stressful and challenging, find ways to help not take it so seriously.
  • Exercise. If you’re a client at Fuse, you’re definitely on the right path with this. Are you consistent? Could you add another day? Could you work a little harder? Ask yourself these questions. You may be right on track or you may need a push. Figure that out and decide the best path to making yourself healthier.

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So, we’re planning on seeing you all this Saturday at 10am. Dust off those running shoes. Head to the track. Be ready to go. And smile.

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness

P.S. If you’re looking to start up a fitness program, you’ve come to the right place. Please fill out this contact form to get started with a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara Higbie’s Fuse Fitness Success Story!


Hi Fusers!

This week Fuse Fitness is taking the opportunity to highlight Barbara Higbie, one of our longest members, who has been working out consistently with us since the summer of 2012! She is an amazingly talented, Grammy nominated musician – check out her website/bio/upcoming events here!

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Barbara and her beautiful teenage daughter Lena!

Before joining Fuse, Barbara was trying to manage her weight and stress levels. At the time she joined, she had been jogging about 30 minutes a day, five days a week for the past 20 years. She had also tried lots of other classes throughout the years, but nothing stuck.  The weight was beginning to pile on in new places and her mood was up and down, because she was taking care of both her young daughter and mother with Alzheimer’s disease, while also maintaining her music career. Barbara saw the Fuse Fitness sign one day while in the neighborhood, decided to drop by to try out a class, and has been hooked ever since. She says, “It’s one of the easiest and best things I’ve ever done in my life.”

As most of us at the studio have figured out, Barbara loves interval training! She is one of the only clients who always wants intervals – she says it’s because she doesn’t like to count reps or keep track of the exercises herself. She prefers not to have to think too much about what comes next, and would rather have a set of exercises that get her heart rate up and get what she calls “a good work out in.” Outside of interval training, her other favorite thing to work on is handstands, and can’t get enough of them. Barbara once told us, “Who knew I’d ever crave doing a hand stand? It is so hard to believe!”

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Working on her handstands!

The challenges that Barbara has encountered along the way have been minimal. She still has trouble doing a free-standing pistol squat, a very challenging move that can take quite a long time to master. Despite that difficulty, she says, “It feels like one big positive wave that moves me along. The environment is great – high standards and low pressure.” Due to her demanding music career, sometimes she is out of town for a couple of weeks at a time touring, thus having to miss her workouts. It is always challenging for her to deal with the muscle aches/soreness that come from having missed a couple weeks of classes.

Looking back to her start at Fuse, she still remembers her first class, when she couldn’t do a Turkish get-up – now she can do many in a row with great form. Barbara says she has never been great at following extreme diets, but has slowly cut out lots of sugar and flour since working out at Fuse and it has made a big difference.

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One of the results Barbara is most proud of achieving since working out at Fuse is having great core strength. “As a professional singer, it has made a HUGE difference to have a strong core!” Barbara recognizes that her consistency with coming to class has really paid off in regards to seeing such great results – she has maintained her weight loss and continues to manage her stress levels, keeping a steady, positive outlook on life. According to her, “It’s easy for me to get to class. The community at Fuse is made up of real, down to earth people, who enjoy working hard and having fun while staying focused.”

Barbara has been very supportive of us and our business from the very beginning – we are so lucky and grateful to have someone as loyal as her. She brings a fun, upbeat energy to class each day. We love her random comedic outbursts in class when performing an awkward or suggestive movement, which makes teaching class so much fun – we always get a good laugh in.

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As you can see from Barbara’s success story, working out isn’t just to stay fit and look good. Fitness is a lifestyle that requires consistency in order to achieve results. While clients may have different goals and seek different results, a fitness program is beneficial to everyone. If you are currently not getting the results you want with your fitness program, we encourage you to sign-up today for a free fitness consult by filling in the form below. As Barbara says, “Having a fitness ‘home’ makes my whole life so much better! Finding Fuse was the biggest gift of the last five years! Thank you Pascha, Kristin and team Fuse!”

Barbara, thank you for your love and continued support. We love having you as an integral part of our Fuse Fitness community! Class would not be the same without you!

 

Geoff Piller’s Fuse Fitness Success Story


Hi Fusers!

This week Fuse Fitness would like to highlight our member Geoff Piller!

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Geoff is one of our most dedicated clients when it comes to his health and fitness. He is self motivated, extremely consistent and laser focused. Before class even begins, he is off to an early start with a quick sprint outside and then comes inside to foam roll and stretch. Something about Geoff that demonstrates his great work ethic is that while everyone else takes a break to chit chat, he never stops, speeding through his workouts staying super focused, while most others have stopped to talk. He is usually the first one in class to finish an AMRAP or RFT workout.  Afterwards he can repeat everything that was discussed/small-talked about in class–he takes multi-tasking to another level–“listen while you work”.

This sentiment is shared by all of us trainers here at Fuse–Geoff is one of the sweetest people we know. He is one of our biggest cheerleaders and is such a caring and giving person. He always has something encouraging and/or positive to say. And let us not forget what an amazing baker he is! And he shares with us 🙂

Thanks to incredible members like Geoff, we have such a wonderful, interesting and supportive fitness community! With that being said, here is Geoff’s Fuse Fitness success story in his own words:

“I was a long time runner and used this method of exercise to stay in shape. I developed a hamstring injury and had to evaluate whether I could continue to run.  I concluded that running was making me fit, but it was not a complete total body workout- I felt limited. I decided I could get a better return by putting the time into a bootcamp style workout. My goal was to have overall balanced fitness, weight loss, and efficient use of my time.

“Some of the challenges I have encountered were working out with other people, as well as being inflexible.  I now enjoy working out in a group setting and have slowly achieved flexibility victories over time at the Fuse. Lastly, I hate Turkish Get Ups or any other exercise that begins with the word Turkish and still cannot jump rope. However, I do have many strengths and would like to focus on the things I’m good at.  I’m able to keep up with people in class who are considerably younger than me and I like the challenge of a rigorous workout. I can also sprint up the hill several times in a row like a bat out of hell and able to to exercise and play well with others.

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Working on the dreaded Turkish Get-Up…

 

“Overall I feel like I am in much better shape than when I was just running.”

Very true, Geoff! When he says he can “sprint up the hill several times in a row like a bat out of hell” he is not joking one bit. Geoff, you are an inspiration to everyone here and we truly appreciate you!

Yours in health,

Fuse Fitness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s H.I.I.T. it!


Hey Fusers,

Happy New Year! We finished off the year strong with a tough, New Year’s themed outdoor bootcamp. It was awesome to end the year on a good note with some pretty great people–thanks to everyone who came out!

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Many of us have had our fair share of indulgent food, drinks and treats over the last month or two–hopefully you downloaded our Holiday Survival Guide, which provided healthy tips and ideas on how to balance out all the splurging. We’re big proponents of taking the time to enjoy special moments with family and friends, and the holidays are a wonderful time to do just that. We hope you all had a wonderful, magical holiday season!

Now it’s time to get back on track! This month we’re focusing on resetting our metabolisms and burning off those extra holiday indulgences! The best way to do that is with high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T. This type of training involves repeated timed intervals of high intensity effort followed by timed recovery times. It’s done at 85–100 percent of one’s maximum heart rate rather than at 50–70 percent which is typically done in moderate endurance activity.

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Due to the timed rest periods (note: they’re not very long), this type of workout gives you a run for your money. There’s usually just enough time to catch a couple of breaths, then the timer rings, and you’re right back at going full speed. In just 20 minutes, you will likely do much more than most people will do in an hour wandering around the gym from set to set. It’s a super effective, time-efficient way to work out. Let’s just say H.I.I.T. gets the job done.

While that might be just enough info to get you feeling pumped about H.I.I.T. month, there is an even greater reason why it’s so awesome. Interval training produces a great afterburn effect, meaning that after your workout is done, your body’s metabolism is still amped up and burning calories. The scientific name for this is exercise post oxygen consumption, otherwise known as EPOC, meaning the amount of oxygen required to restore your body back to homeostasis after exercise (American Council of Exercise). Basically, exercise that consumes more oxygen burns more calories. And if you’ve ever done a H.I.I.T. workout before, you know a lot of oxygen is being consumed.

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Interval training is also great for your heart–it improves both your heart’s strength and performance by increasing aerobic performance and improving cardiorespiratory function.  When you workout at this intensity, your heart and lungs are supplying oxygen to your body. As your heart becomes stronger, it does this more efficiently, maximizing the body’s oxygen intake levels–and like I mentioned before, greater consumption of oxygen leads to greater calorie burn. Win!

These results sure sound great, don’t they, maybe even too good to be true? Well, the benefits are real, as the results have been scientifically studied and proven. So what’s the catch? While H.I.I.T. doesn’t need to take a lot of time, it is challenging. During your high intensity work intervals, you need to be going all out, 85-100% of your max. heart rate. If you are able to chat with the person next to you about weekend plans or what the kids have going on, you are not working hard enough. Let me repeat–you must bust your ass.

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Nothing that gets results is easy, so this month, commit to working really hard during the interval training sets. As always, you will be properly warmed-up in all workouts at Fuse Fitness. You will still be doing strength training. You will still get your core work in. And YOU WILL give it your all during the interval training sets in each workout.

Cheers to a fat-burning start to the year!

Yours in health,

Kristin at Fuse Fitness