PFTL NEWS September 2021


Thank you to all our clients, trainers and others who have continued to come to our studio to train despite the mask mandate.  Covid and its evolving variant strains are very much still present in this country, even in Wilmette. We are all getting weary of wearing masks, hearing about new infections, over-burdened hospitals, etc.  It is an incontrovertible fact that mask wearing and vaccinations are the only way our country will recover from the Covid pandemic. We all hope this will be over by year-end. Bear with us…

STRETCHES TO DO AFTER SITTING TOO LONG (excerpted from IDEA Fit Tips September 2021)

We all do this… We find that sitting at a computer, watching TV, reading a book, texting, etc. all seem to make us spend more time sitting than we planned to do. Sometimes hours go by and we haven’t moved our butt off the chair since we first sat down!

Here are some stretches you can do when you realize you have been sitting for too long a time.

HIP HINGE – Sitting all day can cause “sleepy glutes” and lead to lower-back pain. When done correctly, hip hinges activate the glutes and stretch the posterior chain.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Place hands behind head and lean forward, core engaged, bending at hips.
  • Keeping back straight, bend forward until chest is parallel to floor; return to start.

CHEST OPENER – holding something in front of you (book, phone) or typing on a computer can cause the muscles in front of your shoulders to shorten which contributes to a rounded-shoulder posture.

  • Bring hands up alongside ears, fingers lightly touching side of head.
  • Inhale: Lift chest to prepare.
  • Exhale: Engage core and move elbows back and away.
  • Return to start and repeat


  • Stand tall, gazing forward or down.
  • Inhale: Squeeze shoulder blades together.
  • Exhale: Roll shoulder blades back and down toward spine.
  • Repeat, making sure shoulders go back and down, not up and forward.


  • Stand tall, in neutral alignment.
  • Place hands on lower back, fingers down, as if sliding hands into back pockets.
  • Inhale to prepare. Exhale: Gently squeeze elbows toward the spine.
  • Release and repeat.


The Rotary Clubs of Wilmette, Wilmette Harbor, and Winnetka/Northfield are hosting a fundraising event on September 22 from 5pm to 8pm at the outside Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette. You will hear musical performances by a jazz combo from Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, a New Trier High School jazz combo and the Suzanne Cross Combo All proceeds are going to Our Place, which is a center for developmentally and intellectually disabled teens and adults. Tickets are $25. There is also a raffle for travel packages to Scottsdale, AZ and San Francisco. Tickets can be purchased online at:

PFTL News January 2021


Good riddance to 2020.  Years from now we will look back on 2020 with disbelief.  How could we have lived through all that? COVID 19, political upheaval, high unemployment, racial tension, isolation and heartache, environmental disasters, international unrest to name a few of last year’s challenges. But most of us did live through it. Human beings seem to have the ability to cope with adversity in many forms.

Let’s plan to thrive in 2021.  Physically, emotionally, and hopefully, financially. We are all in this together, so we need to take care of ourselves, so we can help others as best we can.


Clients who have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

Several clients have opted for virtual training.  This can be done easily using Zoom or Facetime.  If you want to get back into a fitness routine, this is a good way to do this while in your own home. Let us know if you would like to train virtually.

We are also developing a free stretching class that will be available through Zoom and later Youtube.  It will require registration, but no cost.  We hope to have this ready by next month or sooner.  It will be appropriate for all fitness levels.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet.  COVID is still very active in Cook County (and the US, as well), so it will be some time before we will change that precaution.


First off, it’s important to realize that, when it comes to movement, every rep, set and second will move you that much closer to your goals.

In fact, according to an August 2019 analysis published in the British Medical Journal, any exercise, for any duration and at any intensity, comes with a substantially lower risk for early death. Also, in the review, researchers note that the dose-response pattern between exercise and longevity is non-linear, meaning that going from zero to 10 minutes of exercise per day may be much more beneficial for your health than going from 60 to 70 minutes.

An October 2019 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine came to a similar conclusion. Researchers found that any amount of running was associated with a lower risk of early death from all causes, specifically cardiovascular disease and cancer. People even benefitted from a single run a week that lasted less than 50 minutes at a pace below 6 mph.

Meanwhile, a March 2019 British Journal of Sports Medicine study shows that even 10 minutes of exercise per week is associated with a lower risk of death, including from cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.

A little bit of movement can truly change the course of your day, and over time, even small, but consistent, bits of it can make big improvements in how you feel and your overall health.

KEEP HOME WORKOUTS INJURY-FREE  (Excerpt from March 2020)

It’s true: Amid all the social distancing due to COVID-19, your workouts have probably started to look a little different—say, with a view of your living room, kitchen, or bedroom. But as at-home workouts become all the rage (or at least the necessity), it becomes even more important to take the proper safety measures to avoid workout injuries.

1. Clear the space – Step one: make sure you have the room—including nothing on the floor around you—to exercise. Check that you have at least 3 feet in all directions when standing or lying on the floor. Make sure you check the floor for kids’ toys, books, weights, and anything else that could get in the way and cause you to trip.

2. Slip on some sneakers – While you can work out barefoot, experts recommend sweating in sneakers—but not ones you wore outside. You want to make sure you’re not bringing in outside germs, especially at the time of a pandemic.

Your next safest bet after sneakers is going barefoot, sans socks. There are benefits of working out with naked feet—all the nerves in your feet help you get a better sense of the ground beneath you and you can better push off for moves like squats and deadlifts.

3. Know your body –  There are so many free workouts available, which is great, but each individual has different goals, priorities, and different fitness levels. If you find a free workout and it doesn’t feel good on your body, then that’s a sign to skip it. Start with something you know or a first timer-friendly workout and then go from there.

Something else to keep in mind: know you can’t bank exercise. That means, if you hit it hard for the next few weeks or months, but then stop completely, you’ll go back to baseline. You want to exercise to build habits so you can keep exercising in the long-term. You don’t want to get injured in the short-term.

4. Switch it up – It’s easy to work out every day, especially now that everyone’s locked up inside and not feeling like venturing out to gyms. But if you’re trying to exercise every single day, try not to repeat the same movements. For instance, avoid doing weighted squats every day of the week and maybe add in some reverse lunges or jumping jacks instead. For cardio, try alternating biking, running, and jumping rope.

5. Consider exercises to counteract desk culture – It’s easy to get comfy working on the couch, or sitting and staring at the computer on your desk all day. But that’s exactly why you want to do some moves that reverse the forward-facing, typically hunched-over position that causes tightness in your neck, shoulders, and middle back, says Tampa. To do this, focus on posterior chain exercises like deadlifts, bridges, bent over rows, and band pulls.

Stand up every hour and do some quick exercises like squats or lunges. Try doing 30-second plank holds throughout the day or moves like bird dog.

6. Have fun with it– No matter what type of work out you do, experts agree it’s most important to have fun with it and enjoy the movement.

Also, know that the benefits of exercise of any type outweigh the risks. Keeping ourselves healthy is something we can do along with social distancing in order to get through this.

In Memoriam: Julie Cohen, our beloved office manager and friend, passed away on December 17. All those who knew Julie fell in love with her smile, good-nature and kindness she showed to everyone. She was the heart and soul of our business. Julie will be greatly missed by all of us.

PFTL News February 2018


You’ve undoubtedly heard the standard gym myth that training for size or strength requires using heavy weights for just a few reps, while training to improve muscle definition requires using lighter weights for a high number of repetitions. While there is some degree of truth to these claims, it is important to understand that the number of reps you do for each exercise has a significant influence on the results you get from your workout program.

Today, many popular programs encourage participants to do high numbers of reps for ballistic exercises, such as barbell cleans or jumps. Unfortunately, doing too many reps may actually cause injury and limit your ability to train. To make sure you’re maximizing the efficiency of your time in the gym, here are seven things to consider when determining how many repetitions you should do based on your personal fitness goals.

  1. A repetition is a single, individual action of the muscles responsible for creating movement at a joint or series of joints. Each repetition involves three specific phases of muscle action: lengthening, a momentary pause and shortening.
  2. Regardless of your specific fitness goals, the number of repetitions you do is not nearly as important as whether those repetitions are performed to a moment of muscular fatigue. Achieving fatigue in a muscle means that it is not capable of performing one more rep and ensures that all of the muscle fibersresponsible for moving that muscle have been engaged. If your goal is to improve definition and you feel capable of performing a few more reps at the end of a given set, you have not fatigued all of the type II fibers that are responsible for creating definition. This means you have wasted your time because you will not be training in the most efficient manner possible for your goal.
  3. In general, the number of reps you do for an exercise is inversely related to the amount of weight you use. As the amount of weight goes up, the number of repetitions you are able to perform decreases. Therefore, higher-intensity loads can only be performed for a few repetitions, while lower-intensity loads can be moved for a relatively high number of repetitions before fatigue sets in.
  4. Training for strength requires using heavier loads, which subsequently limits the number of reps that can be performed. A heavier weight will automatically recruit more type II fibers in the involved muscles. Type II fibers rely on anaerobic metabolism, which provides only a limited amount of energy. This is another reason why heavy weights can only be moved for a few reps at a time—the muscle simply runs out of available energy. If your goal is to improve strength, use weights that cause fatigue after no more than six repetitions.
  5. Training for definition can be achieved by a couple of different rep ranges. The number of reps isn’t as important as the length of time during which the muscle stays under tension. The type II fibers responsible for strength are also responsible for creating the appearance of muscle definition. Definition comes from a muscle maintaining a state of semi-contraction, which is achieved by keeping a muscle under tension for a longer period of time. A higher numbers of reps performed at a slower movement speed can facilitate the tension needed to increase definition. No matter how many reps you decide to use, to achieve definition you must reach a state of momentary fatigue, which means you’re not capable of performing another rep.
  6. If you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer or other type of endurance athlete, you are probably more interested in using strength training to support the specific training necessary to achieve success in your sport. In this case, your strength-training program should focus on activating the type I muscle fibers that rely on aerobic metabolism, which requires performing as many as 20 or 30 reps. Endurance athletes need to be as aerobically efficient as possible, so performing strength-training exercises with light weights for a high number of reps will help muscles develop the mitochondrial density and aerobic efficiency necessary to support endurance-training efforts. In this case, working until fatigue is not necessary, because you’re not trying to add muscle mass; in fact, you want to avoid working to fatigue. However, your rest intervals should be kept relatively short to ensure that your workout creates the necessary stimulus to engage your aerobic metabolism.
  7. Power, which is the ability to generate a significant amount of muscle force in the shortest amount of time possible, is a skill that requires specific programming to achieve. Power training can provide a number of important benefits and is completely safe if the appropriate number of reps is used. However, thanks to the popularity of high-intensity workout programs, it is often performed in an unsafe manner. Training for muscular power places tremendous metabolic and mechanical demands on muscle tissue and can rapidly fatigue the nervous system responsible for maintaining proper joint mechanics. When doing technical power-based lifts like the barbell snatch, clean-and-jerk, push press or hang clean, the focus should be on the quality of movement and not the quantity of reps performed. For safe, effective power training, the rep range should focus on the maximum force output for one or two reps and be limited to no more than four or five. The same is true for medicine ball throws or jumps—the emphasis should be on the quality of movement and not the number of repetitions performed. Jumps and throws should focus on technique and be performed for no more than six to eight reps at a time; doing more reps could cause fatigue, which significantly increases the risk of injury. Like endurance training, the goal of power training is NOT to go to fatigue, but to do the assigned number of reps with the best form possible.


This is a “yes and no” type of statement. Health and fitness professionals advocate for warm-up and cool-down periods for good reasons. First, a warm-up prepares the body to meet the demands of a workout. A warm-up does this by increasing muscle temperature and heart rate, releasing specific hormones, getting you mentally “fired up,” and improving range of motion. However, static stretching should be performed at the end of the workout during the cool-down portion. The most effective type of stretching before a workout is a dynamic series of exercises. This type of stretching involves the whole body, large muscles and multiple joints. The goal is to activate the muscles you will use during the workout. Static stretching, on the other hand, is focused on elongation and relaxation (generally). You don’t want to enter a workout in a relaxed and stretched state—chances are you will reduce force output and your workout won’t have the same quality or effectiveness as if you were to save the static hold for the end.