Monday, December 15, 2014

Great job, Manchester/Essex Regional School District Teachers!

I finished teaching a Total Body Conditioning class today for the staff of Manchester-Essex Regional School District.  They did an outstanding job!  I got some great feedback including one person who wrote on their feedback form the following:
"Paul was so knowledgable and very thorough in his explanations of each exercise/position/stretch.  His patience and positivity was great.  I hope to work with him again in a similar program."

Monday, December 01, 2014

New FDA rules will put calorie counts on menus

Do Calories Really Matter?

Whether they want to or not, consumers will soon know how many calories they are eating when ordering off the menu at chain restaurants, picking up prepared foods at supermarkets, and even eating a tub of popcorn at a movie theater.

Check out the full article HERE:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Debunking the "Paleo Diet"

The Skill of Self-Confidence

What's Your Fitness Age?

You already know your chronological age, but do you know your fitness age?
A new study of fitness and lifespan suggests that a person’s so-called fitness age – determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance – is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. The good news is that unlike your actual age, your fitness age can decrease.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tips from Centenarians

Tips from Centenarians 

The way you think about aging may in fact play a role in how old you “allow” yourself to get. The majority of centenarians—people who live to be 100 years old or older—report feeling about 20 years younger than their chronological age, and their mindset has a lot to do with this self-perception. Most centenarians, regardless of their health status, tend to have positive attitudes, optimism, and a zest for life. Could it be that personality characteristics and worldviews play a more significant role than genetics, diet, or exercise? Perhaps!
One way to determine this is to ask centenarians questions about how they see the world, what they value, and to what they attribute their own longevity. What are their secrets to aging well? These individuals represent centuries of wisdom that should not be overlooked. Mining the minds of centenarians for nuggets of wisdom, researchers have been able to detect a definitive pattern of thinking and behavior among the eldest among us. Centenarians overwhelmingly cite stress as the most important thing to avoid.
Those who have lived 100 years or more on this earth have undoubtedly experienced a number of stressful events, but as a general rule, they manage their stress really well. Rather than dwelling on it, they let it go. And most often, they choose to be happy—despite everything.  In interviews and surveys with centenarians, the following themes also come up time and time again when asked to explain “why they've lived so long:”6
Keeping a positive attitude; living with passion Eating good food
Exercising moderately (most report basic activities, like walking, biking, gardening, swimming, etc.)Clean living (not smoking or drinking excessively, etc.)
Living independentlyFamily and friends
Staying mentally active and always learning something newFaith/spirituality; being able to forgive and let go of stress

Friday, November 14, 2014

Get Out of Your Way

Strength Coach Joseph Arangio recently posted the top 10 ways people hold themselves back when it comes to achieving their fitness goals:

  1. You have no goal
  2. You're not training hard enough
  3. Your'e not eating enough
  4. You're not sleeping enough
  5. You write your own workouts
  6. You do too many exercises
  7. You're inconsistent
  8. You don't warm up
  9. You skip workouts
  10. You blow it all on the weekend

One More Reason to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Men and Mental Health

Business consultant/fitness specialist Megan Senger wrote an interesting piece for IDEA Fitness Journal in October about men's mental health.  She wrote, 'while it's outside the scope of practice for a fitness professional to diagnose or treat mental illness, awareness is important.'

The following statistics highlight the need for more support in this area:

  • More than 6 million men have depression each year
  • Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death for all U.S. men
  • Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide
  • Men underreport depression and may also underreport suicide attempts
Depression may not look the same in men as it does in women, according to William Pollack, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.  Men experiencing depression may display it in various ways other than sadness including:
  • anger
  • aggression
  • work "burnout"
  • risk-taking behavior
  • alcohol and substance abuse
If left untreated, these symptoms may worsen and lead to even more serious problems. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Couch-to-5K" Feedback

I just wrapped up two "Couch-to-5K" Programs and I am so happy how everyone did.  I received some wonderful feedback that I wanted to share.  Here are a few comments from some of my participants:

"I ran the V.A. Fun Run in Bedford today.  I did it all without stopping!  I am very proud of myself.  I followed your schedule and it worked!  I am so pleased."

"Paul was very kind, encouraging, and supportive.  He was not judgmental if you couldn't meet the class expectation.  He snuck in small pieces of advice in an encouraging way."

"Paul is great.  He is very approachable and he supplements his training with useful information via e-mail between sessions.  I was nervous to sign up because I am so out of shape but I felt great after each session."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Couch to 5K Success!

Throughout the summer, I run several 'Couch to 5K' Programs.  I received a wonderful testimonial from a participant in Littleton who I trained this past summer:

I have never been much of a runner.  Last summer I started running and attempted my first 5K.  It was not a positive experience and therefore did not continue with running regularly.  This year, when the opportunity to train for a 5K came up, I decided to try again since I had started to get more in shape this year through strength training.  I found this Couch to 5K program to easy to start and I felt successful in completing the weekly routines.  By the end of the summer, I was able to run for 30+ minutes at a faster speed.  I completed the 5K at the end of the program and beat my last years time by 3:00! I felt the training, support, and encouragement that I got from the trainer, Paul Connolly, was helpful and necessary in me achieving my goal.  I now have the goal to run either the Falmouth Road Race next summer or the Boston Half Marathon.  Thanks, Paul!! 

Liz P.
-Littleton, MA 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Healthy Foods You Should Have In Your Fridge

If you want to be healthier and lose weight, a fridge makeover may be just what you need. Keeping powerful perishables on hand will help you make a smart choice when you're tired, busy, or just craving junk. Stock up on these 10 foods and watch the pounds melt away.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top 5 Exercises

Great video from about the Top 5 Exercises everyone should be doing (at least a variation of them) in the gym every workout:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Accurately Do Fitness Trackers Monitor Sleep?

Perform Better End of Summer Sale

(Click the 'Perform Better' Banner to the right to check out all the great Summer Sale deals!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Friday, July 04, 2014

Can Exercise Reduce Alzheimer's Risk?

Can exercise reduce Alzheimer's Risk? Some very interesting has come out of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.  Check out the full article here:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can A Daily Lottery Prevent Second Heart Attacks?

Can a daily lottery help prevent second heart attacks? Researchers in Pennsylvania are trying to find out.  Check out the full article HERE:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Energy Drinks Blamed in 16 year old girl's death by Heart Attack

Sad story here.  I was never a fan of "energy drinks"

Slow Cook Your Way To Slim

Slow cooker recipes are great because they can not only be nutritious, but provide several days' worth of meals that come in handy- particularly if you have a busy schedule and don't have time every day to prep your meals.  Check out the full article here for some delicious recipes:

Mobile Fitness Apps

In the world of mobile apps, 2014 appears to be shaping up to be the year of the fitness fanatic.  Check out this article for more info:

What Your Poop Says About Your Health

Outside of Dr. Oz, you don't hear many folks discussing their poop habits/behaviors.  Here's an interesting piece from Men's Health on this very subject:

Are You Still Hungry After You Ate? Here's Why...

Not enough protein.....not enough fiber.....check out the full scoop here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Drum Picture

My 8 y/o niece drew this picture of her Uncle Paul next to his drums.  I love it!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Single Leg Deadlifts

One of my favorite lower body strength exercises is the Single-Leg Deadlift.  Check out this fantastic article from the Girls Gone Strong web site for more information:

P90x and Muscle Confusion: The Truth

Charles Staley wrote a really good piece for T Nation all about P90x.  Check it out HERE:

Cooking With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is all the rage these days.  Many people have started using it to cook with as a butter replacement.  It has many other uses as well.  Check out this article from Whole Foods Market:

More Good News About Walking

Regular exercise, including walking, significantly reduces the chance that a frail older person will become physically disabled, according to one of the largest and longest-running studies of its kind to date.

Check out the full article HERE:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Preventable Factors Cause Majority of US Deaths

As recently reported by CNN Health and Time Magazine, five things account for nearly two-thirds of all deaths in the US, or about 900,000 each year:
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Stroke
  • Unintentional injuries, including medication overdoses and car accidents

Friday, May 09, 2014

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Metabolic Effects of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Great research from Len Kravitz, PhD, program coordinator of exercise science @ the University of New Mexico:

"HIIT Summary: The most common benefit from HIIT- and certainly highly significant- is the improvement in VO2 max linked to enhanced protection from heart disease.  Perhaps equally important are HIIT's dramatic acute and chronic effects on improving insulin sensitivity.  

The effects of HIIT on visceral fat and subcutaneous fat loss are encouraging.  And the impact HIIT has on reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure (when elevated) and improving HDL cholesterol is promising.  The evidence is in, and it appears that HIIT is a metabolic health effects winner!"

The Danger of Sports Specialization

"Repeated trauma to the nervous, skeletal and muscular system can be hidden in an athlete who is in his/her early 20's, but micro trauma from repetitive stress will accumulate over time and will definitely catch up with an individual later in life."

-Isaiah Truyman
CEO: Ezia Human Performance

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Jar- and the Beers

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was...

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was...

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed...

'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else---the small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take time to get medical checkups.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18...

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.'

The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2 Bench Press Fixes

I thought my friend Tony did a GREAT job in this video.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do You Spend or Invest Your Time?

Great article from one of my favorite speakers, Martin Rooney:

When you were born, you were given the greatest gift in the cosmos.  You were given a life of time.  Most people, however, don’t value their time.  Perhaps this is because this great gift was given to us for free.

Think you are smart enough to avoid “spending” your time?  Maybe not.  In fact, many people spend huge amounts of their time each day without any return on investment.  When you spend your time in front of the TV, searching aimlessly on the internet, eating the wrong food or hanging out with the wrong people, you are spending time with no real hope of a positive return.  The short-term return of a cheap laugh, sugar rush, or extra pound of fat may feel good at the time, but is worthless in the long term.  A successful life is not created when you simply spend time.  Success happens when you invest it.

No matter who you are or where you are from, you have something in common with everyone else: you were given 24 hours today, and the Clock is Ticking. In your Time Budget, you are given 24 hours in a day.  Today you, like everyone else, will get 24 hours.  What you do with each 24 hour day added up over your lifetime will determine your future.  If you really understand that, then every hour, minute and second becomes valuable.  In fact, time is more valuable than money because you can always get more money, but once your time is gone, you cannot have it back.  Budgeting wisely how that time is used is critical for success.  The most important ratio to examine on your Time Budget is the amount of time spent versus the amount of time invested.

When you invest money, you should expect a return. The same should be true for your time.  If you think there might be some places in your life where you are “leaking” time, below are some excellent ways to increase your investment:

1.  Invest your time in getting proper sleep, exercise and nutrition.  Do this and you not only gain more time, but the time will be more productive and enjoyable.

2.  Invest in your future.  Work to develop your goals, purpose and planning. When time is properly invested here, there is less chance of improper time spending.

3.  Invest quality time in your family and friends. When you invest time in these bonds, you are not just investing in yourself.  If you invest enough in these bonds over your lifetime, the value of these bonds continue long after you do.

4.  Invest time in your network.  When a network is built correctly, you gain back much more time than if you tried to do things by yourself.

5.   Invest your time in challenging activities that force you to develop and grow.  These activities may include reading, speaking, traveling, and learning.

Don’t just learn how to spend time, instead learn how to invest it.

Yours in Strength,


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Body Transformation Lessons

1. Realize that exercise alone doesn’t work.
2. Find a big motivator.
3. Find something to lose.
4. Choose proof over theory.
5. Do one small thing every day.
6. Make your commitments a little too easy.
7. Find someone to answer to.
8. Focus on behaviors, not outcomes.
9. Let your coach track the results.
10. Get a support network.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Whole Foods' Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder

I had some of this today from Whole Foods.  Sooooooo yummy!!!! This is a deceptively rich and satisfying vegetarian chowder that can easily be served as a main course. Once you chop all the vegetables (you can use your food processor fitted with the metal blade), the rest is a breeze.

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves minced
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
5 3/4 cups water or vegetable broth, divided
5 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base, optional but good
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 cups chopped fresh kale (make sure you remove the heavy stems first)
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste (we used just a dash)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a nonreactive large pot (ours was 5 quarts), heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Saute the carrots, onions, celery, red peppers and sweet potatoes about 3 minutes or just until beginning to soften.
Add the thyme and turmeric, combining well with the vegetables. Add the tomatoes and 5 cups water or vegetable broth. If using water, add the vegetable base, if desired. Stir well, bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook 20 minutes.
Add the corn, kale, salt and white pepper. Return to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Season with cayenne pepper.
Meanwhile in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the cornstarch, the remaining 3/4 cup water or broth and the cashews. Slowly stir this mixture into the simmering soup and continue to simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and serve. The soup can be made several hours or a day ahead. Reheat slowly over medium-low heat. It will also keep well, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days. Makes about 12 cups.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Good Exercise Humor from my fav comedian, Brian Regan

Sandbag Training

The Wall Street Journal ran an article in today's paper ( about training with sandbags.  A client of mine and I were discussing at her training session this morning and I gave her my thoughts.  Like any other style of training, the modality needs to be specific to the person's goals, needs, limitations, etc... A phrase that's been around in the fitness industry for many years now is "Functional Training."  I've always said anything is functional if it is purposeful.  Does it apply to the client's needs?  

When I look at Sandbag Training, these are some the populations I'd implement it with:

  • Nurses, Health Care Aids, etc... who regularly have to transport non-ambulatory patients
  • Fire/Police/EMS personnel who have to carry injured/disabled persons
  • Family members of handicapped individuals where they are required to lift others
Long story short.....I like sandbag training for a select group of people.  In your typical commercial gym setting, I see no need for it.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strength Training Tips for Everyone

(Bodyweight Variation of a "1-Arm/1-Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlift")

Improving Posture- A simple way to improve your posture is to alter your “pull:push ratio.”  Specifically, your program should contain more pulling than pushing.  Seated Rowing, Chin-ups, Pull-ups, Dumbbell Rows, etc… should be performed in a 3:1 ratio with Push-ups, Dumbbell Pressing, etc…

Strength Progressions- A common way to challenge your muscles is to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.  However, this progression in weight should be as small as possible.  For example, if 20 lbs. on a given exercise is too light, 30 lbs. is too much (50%) of a jump.  Consider 22.5 lbs. if possible.  Your muscles may tolerate the jump, but your ligaments and tendons also have to adjust.  The 2.5 lb. plates are very underrated.  Use them as a means of sensible strength progressions.

Lower Body Training Balance- Squat and lunge variations are common “knee-dominant” lower body exercises, but to develop strength symmetry through the legs, your program should incorporate “hip-dominant” exercises as well.  Movements such as Stiff-Legged Deadlift (SLDL) variations and Hip Extension variations should be included in your lower body training to strengthen the “Posterior Chain” (i.e. Glutes and Hamstrings).  This mode of training is a great way to protect the knee joint and may also reduce the incidence of injury (i.e. ACL, Meniscal tears, etc…)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Power of Sleep for Athletes

By the 2012 Olympics Usain Bolt became the first man in history to win 6 Olympic gold medals in sprinting.
So what does Bolt consider to be the most important part of his daily training regime? None other than sleep.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Reverse Crunches

I was doing these with a client this past week and I still rank as them as one of my favorite underrated exercises.  

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Did the Biggest Loser REALLY produce a Winner?

Rachel Frederickson, a 24-year-old who started the weight loss contest at 260 pounds, was crowned the winner by losing about 60 percent of her body weight and weighing in at a very lean 105 pounds.  The concern among some viewers is that Rachel went too far and lost too much weight.  

Personally, I think she looks waaaaay too skinny.  

Check out the full breakdown here:

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New Testimonial

One of the great things about my profession is the rewarding feeling knowing that I get to help people.  I am lucky to have many of them write to me and describe their experience with me.  I had a former group exercise client write the following to me today:

I just read your latest newsletter.  What I like most about you and your newsletters is that you are always optimistic.

I think that can overcome a lot in a person's life.  You also have great tips and something for everyone every time.
May you be blessed in 2014.

-Candie B.
West Newbury, MA