The Style of Cycling

Walk Your Bike to Work Day, originally uploaded to Flickr by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious.Reader S wonders if her refreshing bike ride to and from the office is harming her professional image…

I ride my bike to work and struggle to look professional and yet arrive at the office safely at the same time. I’ve started keeping my clothes at work, and so now, I frequently wear leggings and sneakers and then run to my office to change before anyone notices. Other times though, I need to go out for dinner or a client meeting after work, and it can be annoying to have to “change” into my sneakers afterwards so that I can bike home.

What do I do? Should I just start riding the subway? I love biking because it’s fast and refreshing, but I wonder if it’s unprofessional.

I’m really curious to hear what the readers have to say here. I applaud Reader S’s effort for a healthy lifestyle, and I’m kind of envious that her situation is such that she can bike to work. That said… you don’t have to do it 100% of the time to get the effects, and I think some days (such as, say, when you have a client dinner) you should plan to take other means of transportation to work, whether it be by subway or car (or if the distance is short enough, perhaps even walking).  To me, that seems to be the easiest answer — what do you do otherwise, travel by car back to the office, then change, and then bike home? Take your bike with you to the client dinner?  The latter just sounds a bit extremist — and inflexibility is usually not a good thing. (Pictured: Walk Your Bike to Work Day, originally uploaded to Flickr by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious.) [Read more...]

Packing a Gym Bag for the Office

what to put in office gym bagReader A has a question about what to pack for a workout before, during, or after work hours:

I am an attorney in Chicago. I absolutely LOVE your site and I was wondering if you could do an article about gym bags. Specifically, essentials to have in your gym bag so you don’t have to repack it every time you work out. Also, maybe some cute/durable/good sized bags that you’ve seen. Finally, this may sound silly, but advice on how to pack the bag, like have the stuff you’ll use in the shower in one little pouch; hair stuff in another; or maybe hair stuff with makeup combined.

I don’t necessarily want to own two of everything and my gym does have hair dryers, brushes (not the best though), etc. but if I workout in the morning and I am going to the office afterwards, or after work and want to look presentable when I leave (it is a nice gym with lots of potential business connections), it’d help to have some guidance on what to have and how to pack it in there. [Read more...]

What to Wear to Workout – In Front of Coworkers

what to work out in in front of coworkersReader M has an interesting question that brings us back to that old classic: what do you wear to workout or exercise in front of coworkers?

I am an articling student at a mid sized law firm and I have a “law day fun run” coming up, hosted by the law society. It just occurred to me that my running outfit (mini skort and a skin tight tank top) might not send the right impression even though it’s what I actually wear when I go running. I have seen male lawyers biking and running in skintight and/or revealing outfits before but I am not sure if I can get away with that as a female lawyer.

What should I wear?

I offered my advice on what to wear to the corporate gym way way back in 2008, and I’m curious to hear what readers today have to say about it. More and more companies are offering on-premises gyms for their staffers’ use, and even if they don’t, many people go to the gyms located near the office, where odds are high that you’ll see coworkers. (Pictured: Printed Chase Skort, available at Athleta for $54.) [Read more...]

Open Thread: How to Hire a Personal Trainer

how to hire a personal trainerAs warm weather approaches, people everywhere are rethinking their fitness routines. For some, that may even include hiring a personal trainer. But finding a good personal trainer can be a slightly difficult proposition: it’s expensive, so you want your money’s worth — but you also want to make sure that your limited time and energy is “spent” well at the gym. So let’s talk about it. (Pictured: study in annoying eddie II, originally uploaded to Flickr by hmmlargeart.)

My own experience with a trainer was less than stellar: It was January 2008, and I was gearing up for a trial with a very small trial team — so I knew a lot of late nights and early mornings were in my future. I went to my gym and requested a trainer, and took the first person they recommended who could meet my schedule. I think I wound up paying about $75 per session for 10 sessions. It was worth it, I figured, if I could still fit into my suits come trial time.

My trainer, a youngish man named F, was a nice enough guy. But throughout our 10 sessions, we floundered. Sometimes he would kick my @!#$@#$ (oh, I still ache a bit from the one-legged walking lunges across the room). Other times, though — actually, a lot of the time — I felt like F was wasting my time, overestimating my coordination (no matter how long I tried, I was apparently incapable of hitting the little speedbag boxing thing with any regularity), and treading on my patience. I left most of the sessions feeling like the 60 minutes spent at the session and the 15-20 minutes walking to/from the session would have been a lot better spent with one of my FIRM videos, going to a spin class, or doing a long run outside by myself. (I ultimately caught a truly nasty cold — right in the midst of trial, too, joy — and ate so little that I wound up fitting into my suits just fine.)

For those of you who’ve had success with personal trainers: how have you chosen a trainer? How have you communicated with him or her to ensure an amazing workout?

Dealing with Anxiety (Post-Interview Or Otherwise)

interview-anxietyReader M had a question about post-interview anxiety, something I notice coming up in the comment threads a lot…

I had a second round interview this week, and I’m waiting to hear back. The job is working in-house for a big company. Their legal team is spread throughout their offices, so my first interview was with HR, then my second interview was with their VP Legal Counsel and another Senior Counsel attorney. I think it went well, but I’m so anxious. My first question is what to do with anxiety while waiting to hear back about a job? My second question is if anyone has stories from successful interviews that might shed light on whether or not it went well.

The wonderful thing about interviewing for jobs outside your own company is that they have no idea what a stressball you may be after the interview. (Of course, for jobs inside the company you have to keep your cool, which is even tougher — but hopefully less stress-inducing given that you can “read” the personalities better and they know you better.) There are two interesting questions here: what to do to ease anxiety, and how to know if an interview went well.  I’ll take the second one first.

[Read more...]

Lunchtime Body Blitz Workout

Today’s guest post is by Lindsay Vastola, CFT (pictured), who has a cool new blog we just found for women executives:  Be a Boardroom Babe.  She’s put together a lunchtime workout for us to maximize time…

If you’re as limited on time as I am (or have a limited attention span for exercise), you may want to seriously rethink your workout routine.

I used to think that if I didn’t have time to workout for at least a full hour, it made no sense for me to workout at all. You see, I was taught the “old-fashion” rules of exercise…longer workouts = better results. When I was working long hours at my last corporate job in New York City, I would often forgo my workout all together because I didn’t think I had enough time to get in a “good” workout (not to mention the fact I was continually stressed, tired, and overworked…even though a workout would have been the perfect antidote…sound familiar?).

Since making my career-change from corporate manager-to-personal trainer, I’ve spent a lot of time researching how to create effective fat-burning workouts for my clients who are primarily success-driven working women on tight schedules given the demands of their careers and schedules.

So here’s what I discovered (and what is backed up by loads of research): the problem with the “old way of exercising” is that in a typical workout you might spend 30-45 minutes of slow cardio on the treadmill and then 15-30 minutes of moderate resistance exercise. Problem is, you basically wasted almost an hour of the valuable time you could be getting work done, setting up meetings with your important clients, hanging with the gals, or shopping for that new top-notch wardrobe (recommended by of course!).

Oh…and worse yet, you wasted a great opportunity to set your body up for maximum fat burn. You’re getting ZERO return on your investment.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is my cardio training of choice. Why? Because it works. Plain and simple. And I don’t waste my time. I love working out, but frankly, I’ve got better things to do. I hate wasting time…I bet you do too.

You need to do these high-intensity interval workouts to burn maximal fat and maintain muscle and give up long, boring cardio for good!

Here is an intense workout I call my “Lunchtime Body Blitz” you can do in about 30 minutes or less, start-to-finish. You’ll not only burn maximum fat calories during your workout, but this method of training will amp-up your calorie “afterburn” (basically the calories you burn post-workout for several hours following your workout) and will enhance your results helping you reach your long-term fat loss and fitness goals.

The Lunchtime Body Blitz workout has two parts: part 1 is a HIIT cardio workout and part 2 is a circuit-style bodyweight resistance workout. You can do this workout anywhere since it really does not require any equipment. This makes for a great travel workout too!

Part 1: HIIT Cardio Blitz (print out the workout chart below and take it with you wherever you workout!)
You can do your HIIT cardio workouts on a treadmill, running outside, biking, on a stair climber, elliptical, swimming, stairs at home or in a stairwell, jump rope (great when you’re travelling), jumping jacks….get creative!

The goal is to give maximum effort – you should be exhausted by the end…and don’t do extra cardio!! Long, boring cardio workouts ARE NOT EFFECTIVE for fat burn (unless you are training for a marathon); more does not equal better in the case of cardio for fat loss.

For the time indicated for each round in the “Work” column, you will give maximal effort. On a scale of 1 to 10, you should be working at about a 6-8…out of breath and difficult to hold a conversation. Then for the time interval indicated in the “Rest” column next to it, you’ll bring your effort down to a 4-6 level. For example, if you are running outside or on a treadmill, you’ll run hard/sprint for the “work” interval, then bring it down to a jog or fast-paced walk for the “rest” interval then go right into the second round. In lieu of running, you could also use the incline function on a treadmill as your “Work” period and then level it out for “Rest” (great work for the legs and glutes).

Part 2 – Resistance Blitz
You’ll do exercises 1-3 for 30 seconds each and rest for 15 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Repeat the complete circuit 2-4 times depending on time and fitness level.

Exercise #1: Wide Squat (legs, butt, thighs, and core)
Exercise #2: Pushups (shoulders, chest, back, triceps, and core)
Exercise #3: Ab throw-downs (abs and core)

1. Wide squat: Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Slowly squat aiming your hips slightly back (as if you’re trying to reach for a chair behind you) and return to the standing position pushing up through your heels.
2. Pushups: If you can’t do full pushups (no girlie ones here ladies!), use a table or set of stairs to start at an incline and then as you get stronger, gradually work your way down to the floor.
3. Ab throw-downs: Lie on your back, with a bench or the foot of a bed or sturdy bench at your head. Reach back and grab the “post.” Start with your legs up straight in the air. Slowly lower your straight legs, as low as you can go without allowing your back to arch off the floor (don’t let your feet hit the floor), then bring your legs back up to the start position.

I know you’ll love this high-intensity, time-efficient Lunchtime Body Blitz…try to do what you can in 30 minutes or less. Work hard, push yourself, and I guarantee you’ll feel awesome, burn off some extra stress, and get closer to your fitness goals. Intensity-over-time always wins when it comes to quality fat burning workouts…not to mention it will make it a lot easier to get in those workouts amidst your daily craziness!

Lindsay Vastola, CFT is corporate manager-turned-fitness professional specializing in designing fitness programs for the success-driven career woman. Updated frequently, you can find information on Lindsay’s latest transformation programs, online workouts, and nutrition tips on her blog at She is also the founder of Body Project Fitness located in Central New Jersey. Her goal is to help the ambitious career woman get to the top and look damn good while she’s at it!

Readers — what are your favorite lunchtime workouts?