Monday, April 16, 2007

"How are school and your Internship going?"

A few clients, family members, and friends have recently asked me about those two areas of my life. In a nutshell, both are going fantastic. Specifically for each...

School update- In less than one month's time, I'll have earned a degree in Exercise Science from UMASS-Boston. I've had some outstanding professors who I know I'll keep as lifelong mentors over the years. I regularly keep in touch with a few of them and I'm so thankful for how helpful they've been to me.

Internship update- I'll be completing my BU Internship in approximately one month's time. I'm pondering doing some part-time volunteering there this summer. I'm happy to have been there this semester, but there is a lot more that I want/need to learn, so hopefully I can work something out with them. The training environment there for my workouts is unparallelled. It's nice having music blasting and having access to tons of equipment I normally wouldn't (i.e. Air Dyne cycles, slideboards, Olympic weightlifting platforms, etc...)

Spring Seminar Summary

Last Tuesday, April 10th, Sports Psychologist Dr. John Oleski, Ph.D. and I conducted a Spring Goal-Setting/Motivation & Fitness seminar at Waverley Oaks Athletic Club in Waltham, MA. It was a fairly small crowd, compiled of club members, staff, and even a few of my clients. I applaud my clients in particular for coming, as I'm shocked they could stand to listen to me babble about fitness after dealing with me at our training sessions.

At the seminar, John covered the topic of goal setting and motivation, discussing sub-topics such as positive and negative self-talk, the benefits of writing down your goals, and delineating the difference between "missions" and "goals." John is extremely focused as I see him working out on a regular basis in Waltham as he prepares for his master's track and field competitions.

My portion of the seminar was a 20-minute lecture entitled "13 Steps to a Successful Fitness Regimen." I knew a good portion of the audience needed some of the "basics" clarified as to how to structure their fitness routines, so I thought by doing something like this it would cover a lot of the FAQs people had. I got some great feedback on what I discussed.

John and I each awarded an audience member with a free consultation to meet with each of us. Overall, it was a great night and we're looking to set up future seminars at Waverley Oaks and other local venues. If you're reading this and you were in attendance that night, thank you for your continued support.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My personal trainer is "certified"

As I've said to so many in the last few years, the term "certified" gets thrown around way too much when it comes to personal trainers. At last check there were over 100 certifications available, some sadly being available way too easily. That being said, do your homework when seeking out a qualified personal trainer. Ask about their experience, education, and certification. With respect to the latter, do some research on where they are certified from.

The following fitness and health organizations offer accredited personal training certifications:

ACE—American Council on Exercise
ACSM—American College of Sports Medicine
NSCA—National Strength and Conditioning Association
NASM—National Academy of Sports Medicine
NFPT—National Federation of Professional Trainers
NCSF—National Council on Strength and Fitness

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Exercising in pain?

Most of us have experienced some sort of physical setback (i.e. acute/chronic injury). Below represents some GREAT insight from a strength & conditioning forum I visited recently:

"Simple advice. If it hurts don't do it. Does it hurt is a yes/no question. It can only be answered yes or no. No equivocating i.e "after i warm up" etc.

Discomfort should last two days and should be limited to the muscles not the joints or tendons. progression should be based on a full, pain-free ROM that produces muscle soreness w/o joint soreness.

Follow this advice and you'll get healthy."

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Article published!

The Watertown Tab & Press ran an article of mine in today's edition. Check it out below and let me know what you think:

Connolly: Find success in spring workouts
By Paul J. Connolly, Guest Columnist
GateHouse Media
Tue Apr 10, 2007

Traveling past Victory Field on a daily basis in the cold winter months, whether by car or on foot, can be rather depressing. A recent trip to the gym led me past the visibly empty, snowy and icy track. Not surprisingly, no one was up for a game of tennis or shooting some hoops — funny how people don’t flock to the tennis courts when the wind chill is just above zero. Admittedly, there were a few brave moms chatting among themselves, while simultaneously attempting to ward off frostbite as they sipped their Starbucks while their little ones ran around in the playground.

Two thoughts subsequently ran through my head: one, thank God the heat in my car works well; and two, I can’t wait until the warmer weather of spring arrives.
One of my favorite pastimes, particularly in the spring and summer, has always been to head to Victory Field. Whether it is a walk/jog on the track, pickup hoops or tennis with friends or a game of Wiffle ball in the middle of the track, Victory Field’s offerings never fail to keep exercise enthusiasts content. Every year, I enjoy seeing the track flooded with walkers and runners during the mild spring and summer nights. While the fall season has its share of users, Victory Field on a warm spring or summer night is a wonderful place to be.
So what exactly can one do to ensure a safe, effective and efficient workout this spring? I’m glad you asked, as a lecture I recently gave at a local fitness center revolved around steps toward an optimal fitness regimen. I’ve taken the liberty of sharing seven of them with you.

Step 1: Engage each of “The Big Three” — Cardiovascular conditioning, resistance training and flexibility (stretching) constitute the three major components of a properly designed exercise regimen. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (2006), cardiovascular exercise should be performed on most, if not all, days of the week at a moderate intensity for 20 to 60 minutes. Resistance training (“strength training”) should be performed two to three times/week. Engage all major muscle groups (i.e. legs, back, shoulders, chest, shoulders, etc.) and attempt one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions initially. Flexibility/stretching should be performed on a daily basis, ideally after a workout as the muscles are warmer and looser than prior to a workout.

Step 2: Prioritize — Put extra focus on the weaker areas of the body and don’t spend so much time putting work into what you’re already proficient at. For example, I encounter many exercisers (males in particular) whose lower backs require strengthening, yet the first thing they do when they get to the gym is lie down under the bar and perform set after set of bench presses. They should be focusing on exercises and stretches to help strengthen their lower back, rather than reaffirm their desire to improve the appearance of their chest muscles (“pecs” as they are often referred to).

Step 3: Intermittent Activity — Unbeknownst to the majority of people, recent research has indicated that multiple bouts of shorter duration exercise provide equal benefits to one longer session. For example, if you are unable to squeeze in a 30-minute continuous exercise session in your schedule, try a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break and complement it with a 20-minute walk when you get home from work.

Step 4: Devise a Plan of Attack — Based on my experiences with clients, those who keep records or some sort of weekly written exercise schedule tend to meet and exceed their goals quicker than those who don’t. Instead of saying, “I’m going to get 30 minutes of physical activity five days this week,” take a few minutes to write out exactly what you seek to accomplish and review the list daily. Place it on your refrigerator and make a copy to post at your desk at work. The key is to make yourself accountable — in writing — for a given task.

Step 5: Range of Motion — Exercises should be performed through a pain-free, full range of motion, unless contraindicated. I never understood the phenomenon of performing half-reps on exercises (i.e. doing an arm curl but only going halfway up). As we get older, our range of motion with certain movements may become limited, so we need to counteract this by engaging full ranges of motion. An injury should be the only exception to this rule. For example, if an individual has been instructed by his/her physical therapist to avoid a full range of motion to an existing injury, then a partial range of motion may be warranted.

Step 6: Variety — There’s nothing worse than a boring exercise routine. Who wants to do the same thing every session? A regimen with no variety encourages the ever-dreaded training plateaus. The human body adapts well to change after a while. Therefore, new stimuli must be introduced every so often to continue to challenge yourself. Specifically, try switching up your walking routine this week by doing any of the following: increase the total time you walk; change your route; stop every two minutes and perform 10 jumping jacks; or simply increase the speed at which you walk. The aforementioned examples merely represent the tip of the iceberg as far as how to tweak your routine to keep it interesting. You’re only limited by your own creativity.

Step 7: Buddy system — There may be a day when you are not feeling as motivated to exercise. We’ve all been there. After an exhausting, stressful day at work, it can be challenging to keep up an exercise routine ... enter, the “fitness buddy.”
Last winter, I wrote a column for the TAB & Press. In the conclusion of that article, I wrote a blurb about how beneficial having a workout buddy could be. Whether it is a co-worker, friend or family member, try and pick a friend — or two — who you know could help motivate you and vice-versa. Use your training buddy to keep you accountable. Challenge each other, set up fitness challenges for each other, and provide consistent positive and motivational feedback to each other.

With the warm weather upon us, today is a great time to implement these seven steps. Most of you will read this on a Friday, the day the TAB is delivered, yet wait until Monday to start. Be different — be the person who makes the big change on a Friday or Saturday — not the typical “resolution” exerciser who always starts over on a Monday and falls off course by Wednesday. Take that as a challenge and keep me updated with your progress. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Good luck and have fun!

Paul J. Connolly, founder of PC Conditioning Personal Training Services (, is a lifelong Watertown resident and a member of Watertown High’s Class of 1996. Connolly can be e-mailed at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

300 Workout

A lot has been made about the movie 300, more specifically "The 300 workout." In a nutshell, it's high intense circuit training. I'm a fan of circuit training, although the "300 workout" is much too intense for most people. The workout can be creatively tweaked by modifying reps for each exercise or simply substituting an exercise for another. I'm working now on modiyfing the circuit for not only my clients' workouts, but my own. Challenge yourself with the circuit and keep me posted on your progress.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


How adorable is my niece?