6 Reasons Why You Need to Strength Train

benefits-to-strength-trainingWeight lifting and strength training can get a bad rap. Some people think that strength training is reserved for “meat-heads” and jocks, others (mainly women) worry they will bulk up if they lift. The truth is you’re not going to get hulk-like unless you work really hard at it! Women simply do not have enough testosterone to build major muscle mass unless they lift very, very heavy. And, guys, need to work up to low repetition, high weight strength training for Arnold Schwarzenegger-like muscles.

We should all be strength training to look and feel our best. Strength training goes a long way towards improving physical fitness, self confidence and appearance.  Here are 6 reasons why everyone needs to strength train. Pass these on to your clients or staff to encourage them to add strength training into their routines.

1. The afterburn factor. After vigorous activity our bodies are still burning calories. Generally the more intense the exercise the greater the afterburn.  Studies show that lifting weights can jack up metabolism beyond an hour post-workout. Essentially you get more bang for your buck by adding strength training to your routine.

2. Strength training can change your shape.  If toning up is part of an individual’s goal then cardio alone will not achieve the ideal physique. Cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling,  and aerobics can prompt weight loss through calorie burn. However,  while cardio can help shrink the body it doesn’t change shape. So if an individual loses weight through cardio all their flaws will be the same, just smaller.  Strength training will help produce muscle mass that would otherwise be space taken up by fat.

3. Decreases chance of developing osteoporosis. Muscle mass declines as we age and the risk of developing osteoporosis ( a disease which occurs when you lose too much bone) increases. Weight training can help protect the bones and help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study conducted at Tufts University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70. 

4. Lose inches. People often think in terms of weight loss when arguably it’s fat loss that should be the overarching goal. It’s healthier to lose inches/fat and gain muscle than to simply lose pounds. (Plus the physique will be less flabby!) According to the National Center for Health Statistics two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie.

5.  Everyday activities become easier. It may sound obvious but strength training will make you stronger. Lifting heavy grocery bags, picking up your kids and even climbing the stairs will be easier. The reason for this is that when you ask the body to impose a difficult task (such as lifting a dumbbell) it responds. Muscles adapt to meet new requirements that are demanded of them and in turn you get stronger.

6. Improved mood and energy. Strength training provides similar improvements for depression as anti-depressant medications. It’s difficult to determine if this is because people feel better when they are stronger or if strength training produces a helpful biochemical change in the brain. It is most likely a combination of these factors.  Strength training also benefits the mood by helping to produce feel-good endorphins.

Beginners should consult a medical professional before starting a strength training or weight loss program.
Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband. 

Healthy Valentine’s Day Ideas

Cooking-Healthy-Valentine-MealI don’t mean to be a holiday Grinch but sometimes it seems like every American day of festivity is marked with unhealthy food and caloric excess. And, Valentine’s Day is no exception.

Don’t get me wrong I love chocolate as much as the next guy but sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Take Valentine’s Day, for example – the day that celebrates love. Many Americans mark the occasion with boxed chocolates and rich desserts. Americans reportedly purchase around 58 million pounds of chocolate during the days leading up to February 14th. Are we losing site of what the holiday is really all about?

Here are some ideas to make your Valentine’s Day a little healthier by placing the emphasis on spending quality time with loved ones (without sacrificing the sweetness).

Plan an Activity Date. Treat your Valentine to a new activity you can enjoy together. Some active ideas include checking out an indoor rock climbing gym, going dancing or packing a picnic and hitting up a hiking trail in a local park (provided you’re fortunate enough to be somewhere warm!)

Are you and your significant other foodies?  Sign up for a local cooking class where you can spend an evening together while learning new and hopefully somewhat healthy recipes.

Healthify Sweet Treats. It’s hard to quell a sweet tooth come Valentine’s Day. And you don’t have to! Swap out the crusty old box of mystery chocolates for some healthier options like organic chocolate. Endangered species chocolate is delicious and supports a worthy cause. In the mood for ice cream? Try this nutrient filled Valentine’s Day smoothie instead.

Cook your Date an Organic Gourmet Meal. This year instead of shelling out big bucks for a prix fixe meal at a restaurant try cooking at home instead. Restaurants are notorious for jacking up prices on the 14th, and the menus are usually limited, calorie laden and not all that inventive anyway. Spend some time together in the kitchen making a tasty, nutritious meal. Shop organic at your farmers market or the local section of the grocery store and splurge on quality ingredients – you’ll taste the difference! Cooking Light offers 20 healthy and romantic dinner ideas for two.

Enjoy Some Spa Time. Sometimes you just need a break and Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to pamper yourself. Get a couples massage. You’ll give your muscles some love while spending quiet time with your significant other. Or, treat your lady (or guy) to a manicure and pedicure or facial.

Say It with a Card. Candy and chocolate is sweet but cards are so much more thoughtful. Get crafty and create a homemade card for your love (or kids).  Or, just be sure to spend some time writing a special message. Even the least sentimental folks will appreciate the effort.


Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband. 

100+ University Judo Clubs in North America and Around the World

Universities have long been a supporter of the sport of Judo. Many have integrated Judo into curriculum and provide dedicated space for martial arts study for all students, not only those pursuing health science and fitness related degrees. Here is a directory of active college and university Judo club sites (along with contact information where available) in the U.S., Canada, and around the world.

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York


Hong Kong
United Kingdom


Northern Arizona University Judo Club
Flagstaff, AZ
Kendahl Falen

Phoenix College Judo & Jujutsu Club
Phoenix, AZ


California State University, Bakersfield Judo Club
Bakersfield, CA

City College of San Francisco Judo Club
San Francisco, CA

Los Angeles City College Judo
Los Angeles, CA

Modesto Junior College
Modesto, CA

Santa Rosa Junior College Judo Club
Santa Rosa, CA
Patrick Fernandez

San Jose State Judo Club
San Jose, CA

St. Mary’s College of California Judo Club
Moraga, CA

Stanford University
Stanford Judo Club
Stanford, CA
Isaac Caswell, Club Co-President

University of California – Berkeley Martial Arts Program
Berkeley, CA

University of California – Davis Judo Club
Davis, CA

University of Southern California Judo Club
Los Angeles, CA


Colorado School of Mines Judo
Boulder, CO

District of Columbia

Georgetown UniversityDSC_6927
Washington Judo Club


University of Florida Judo
Gainsville, FL


University of West Georgia
West Georgia Judo Club
Carrollton, GA


University of Hawaii Judo Club/Team
Hilo, HI


Idaho State University
ISU Judo Club
Sami Tadehara


The University of Chicago Judo Club
Chicago, IL
Mike Sachet


Ball State University
Muncie, IN

Indiana State University Martial Arts Program

Purdue University
West Lafatette, IN

University of Notre Dame Judo Club
Notre Dame, IN


Loras College Judo Club
Dubuque, IA


Wichita State University Judo Club


Tulane University Judo Club
New Orleans, LA

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Judo CLub
Lafayette, LA


Central Michigan University Judo Club
Mt. Pleasant, MI

Eastern Michigan University Judo Club
Ypsilanti, MI

Oakland University Judo Club
Rochester, MI

Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Sensei Sheehan


University of Minnesota Judo Club
Minneapolis, MN

University of Montana at Missoula Judo Club
Missoula, MT
406 728-4727


Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire Judo Club
Jake Freedman (Coach)

New Jersey

Rutgers University Judo Club
New Brunswick, NJ

New Mexico

New Mexico State University Judo Club
Las Cruces, NM

New York

Columbia University Judo Club
New York, NY

Cornell University Judo Club
Ithaca, NY
JJ Melfi

Hunter College Judo Club
New York, NY

Polytechnic Institute of New York University
Brooklyn, NY

St. John’s University Judo Club
Queens, NY

Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

United States Military Academy
West Point, NY


Ohio State University Judo Club
Columbus, OH
Virgil Goodwine


The University of Toronto Judo Club
Toronto, ON

Western University Judo Club
London, ON


Southern Oregon University Judo Club
Ashland, OR
Sensei James Linn

Oregon State University Judo Club
Corvallis, OR


Bryn Mawr College JudoDSC_6894
Bryn Mawr, PA

Drexel University
Drexel Judo
Philadelphia, PA

Pennsylvania State University Judo Club
State College, PA

Rosemont College Judo Club
Rosemont, PA

St. Joseph’s University Judo Club
Philadelphia, PA

University of Pennsylvania
Penn Judo
Philadelphia, PA

University of the Sciences Judo Club
Philadelphia, PA

Villanova University Judo Club


Union University Judo Club
Jackson, TN
Toby Brown

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville Martial Arts Club
Jason Rieger


Texas A&M University Judo Team

Texas Tech University Judo Club
Bobby Merriman


College of William and Mary Judo Club
Williamsburg, VA


Eastern Washington University Judo Club

Heritage University Judo Club
Toppenish, WA
Kazuhiro Sonoda

University of Washington Judo Club

Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA
Coach Mark Glaser


Adelaide University Judo Club
Adelaide, Australia

Maacquarie University
North Ryde, Australia

Sydney University Judo Club
Sydney, Australia

Victoria University
Footscray, Australia

University of New South Wales
Kensington, Australia

University of Queensland Judo Club
Brisbane, Australia

Hong Kong

University of Hong Kong Judo Club
Pokfulam, Hong Kong

United Kingdom

Aberdeen University Judo Club
Aberdeen, UK

Bristol University Judo Club
Bristol, UK

Dublin University Judo Club
Dublin, Ireland

Durham University Judo
Durham, UK

Imperial College London Judo
London, UK

Leeds University Judo Club
Leeds, UK

Oxford University Judo Club
Oxford, UK

Salford University Judo Club
Salford, UK

Southampton Solent University Judo
Southampton, UK

Southampton University Judo Club
Southampton, UK

Strathclyde University Judo Club
Glasgow, United Kingdom

University College London Judo Club
London, UK

University of Bath Judo
Bath, UK

University of Birmingham Judo
Birmingham, UK

University of Bradford Judo Club
Bradford, UK

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Judo Club
Cambridge, UK

University of Glasgow Judo
Glasgow, UK

University of Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire, UK

University of Nottingham Judo
Nottingham, United Kingdom

University of Plymouth Judo Club
Plymouth, United Kingdom

The University of Sheffield
Sheffield University Judo Club
Sheffield, UK
Gabriel Banks

University of Ulster Jordanstown Judo Club
Londonderry, UK

University of Warwick Judo
Coventry, UK

University of Wolverhampton Judo Club
Wolverhampton, UK

University of York Judo
North Yorkshire, United Kingdom


Kenyatta University Judo Club
Nairobi, Kenya

On the Job Tips for New Athletic or Personal Trainers

Tips-for-Personal-TrainersPeople entering the Sports Medicine or Fitness industry as new Athletic Trainers or Personal Trainers will likely have a solid educational foundation to pull from as they start their career. Still it’s natural to experience some uncertainty when it comes to getting started and working with clients.

Whether you’re just entering the health and fitness field ,or you’ve taken a hiatus and could use a refresher these tips will help. You can also use them to advise your staff and new hires on best practices.

Focus on Their Goals. Sounds simple, right? In theory this advice is common sense. But all too often we get so wrapped up in our own plans for clients and overlook what they’re really after.

Program plans should not be one size fits all. While there may be strategies you employ across the board treat individuals as individuals. As you gain experience it makes sense to draw on what you’ve learned. However, taking shortcuts by using the same program design across the board is not the way to go. The desire to feel special is human nature! Make sure your clients know that their program is customized for them and their goals.

Follow Up. It’s important to be engaged during practices and sessions but it’s also in your best interest to communicate when you aren’t face to face. A simple call or text to see how your athlete is feeling about the big game coming up, or how your client is faring sticking to their meal plan this week go a long way. Taking the time to let your clients know you are thinking about them and their progress will help position you as someone they want in their arsenal for the long-haul. A good rule of thumb is to communicate at least once outside of the gym or practice facility per every session.

Quantify Results. During your initial session with a new client be sure to set measurable goals. These will likely vary greatly. One client may want to take minutes of  their running mileage. Another might be focused on losing inches from their waist. No matter the goal it should be written down from the get-go and quantified with numbers.

Understand Nutrition.  Almost all fitness and wellness degrees or certification programs include the study of nutrition. Letting your clients know how important this part of the puzzle is to their goals is imperative. Say, you work out a football player 5 times a week focusing on conditioning and speed, but he also needs to gain muscle mass in order to reach goals. He isn’t going to get there without the right diet. Neither is a client who wants to lose weight. Provide suggestions and guidance to help your clients.  Discuss daily requirements of the major macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat – specific to their body’s needs. However, unless you are a Registered Dietician it’s unethical to create a specific, detailed diet for anyone. Tread this line carefully.

Celebrate Little Victories.  It’s your job to pat your clients on the back during their journey. You aren’t a cheerleader, but part of a trainer’s role is encouragement. Don’t wait until your clients have reached their big goals! Part of what motivates people is taking time to recognize little victories as they progress towards objectives.


Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband. 



Top Five Ways to Avoid Cold Weather Weight Gain

It’s no secret that people tend to fall into less than healthy eating and fitness habits as the weather turns colder. Motivation to hit the gym wanes and tempting treats seem to be everywhere. Between halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and all the social events that surround these there are plenty of excuses to indulge.

The truth is it’s much easier to prevent weight gain than to be in a position where you have a few extra pounds to lose. Plus, who doesn’t want to look good and feel confidant in their halloween costume and during the holidays while catching up with family and friends?

Studies show that adults tend to gain one or two pounds between November and January. This doesn’t sound like much but the issue is that many people don’t lose that weight and it accumulates over time.

Whether you’re a professional who’s job is to help others stay healthy, or you’re trying to manage your own weight here are the top five ways to avoid cold weather weight gain:

1. Treat exercise like an appointment. Leaving work after sunset is a reality for most people after day light savings time rolls around, and we turn the clocks back. The shorter days combined with lack of sunlight can be demotivating. It’s tempting to skip the gym and head home to the couch but do that enough and it’ll certainly add up. Treat your planned workouts like any other can’t-miss meeting or appointment and you’re more likely to stick with a routine. Write them in your day planner, iPhone calendar or whatever is most likely to help you commit.

2. Sleep more.  It make seem counterintuitive to rest when your to-do list is mounting, but sleep is a key component to maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that sleep deprived people are more likely to indulge in high calorie and fattening foods. In fact in one study when subjects were lacking quality shut-eye potato chips and sweets stimulated stronger responses in a part of the brain that helps govern the motivation to eat.  Food is that much more tempting when we’e overtired and lacking willpower.

3. Be Picky. Decide which indulgences are worth it and what you can do without. Enjoy the special treats but avoid developing a decadent dessert every night habit just because it’s cold out. At parties skip the stuff that you can have anytime, and choose the special once-a-season treats. For me, I enjoy my mother in law’s rich chocolate, caramel covered pretzels once or twice a year around the holidays and enjoy every bite. The candy bars and packaged stuff that’s available all year just isn’t worth the extra calories.

4. Weigh yourself regularly. Unwanted weight is less likely to sneak up on you if you’re tracking it. You don’t need to be obsessive but a weekly weigh in is a good idea. 

5. Wear fitted clothes. Oversized sweaters, roomy pants and changing into your sweats after work can leave you feeling… well, relaxed. Sure, it’s nice to unwind and get cozy but your comfortable clothes make it easier to overeat, and gain weight without realizing it. Ladies, this isn’t the time to put away the skinny jeans. And guys should keep tabs on that belt buckle. Assessing how your more form fitting clothes feel is a good strategy to make sure you aren’t gaining unwanted weight.

These small efforts can add up to big results and help prevent cold weather weight gain.


Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband. 

Three Exercise Tips for Men Over Fifty

Age should not stop men over the age of fifty from performing rigorous exercise. There are clear health benefits associated with intense strength training and aerobic conditioning. Increased testosterone, heightened HGH levels, improved insulin sensitivity and increase in muscle mass are just some of the known benefits that older man can reap from a steady exercise program. Here are three exercise tips for men over 50.

Perform Intense Compound Movements

Fitness Experts will tell you that the best movements that transform the body and provide functional strength are compound movements. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, rows, and bench press places a great deal of adaptive stress on the body – leading to a healthy development of muscle mass, increased anabolic hormone levels such as testosterone, HGH, IGF-1 and catecholamines, and improve strength. The other derived benefits from performing these compound movements is that they are completely functional by mimicking real life movements. Men over the age of 50 should consider using a personal trainer to show proper technique to avoid injuries.

Use High Intensity Interval Training

Older men do not have time and energy to spend all day in the gym. Hence, for basic aerobic conditioning, it is better to use a training protocol like high intensity interval training versus running on a treadmill or cycling. Slow paced cardio, while from time to time is beneficial, can also be detrimental towards developing functional strength. Studies have shown that incessant bouts of slow paced cardio raises cortisol levels, can be debilitating on the lower body, decreases strength, and can hamper fat burning efforts. Performing sprints, tabatas and other high intensity programs can be beneficial. However, more advanced training systems such as CrossFit should be used with caution. Again, in this instance, older men should consult with an experienced fitness expert to devise a high intensity interval training program suitable for their needs and current health condition.

Try Yoga

Without a doubt, one of the biggest issues that older men face is a lack of mobility, sore joints, and worse of all – a bad back. However, men should try doing two to three yoga sessions per week to help improve flexibility and mobility. Yoga will help stretch out muscle fascia, loosen up joints and improve muscular flexibility. Yoga not only will help those arenas, but also work in tandem with an a suitable strength training program. Yoga is a staple now in the exercise community. Many gyms, community centers, and schools offer free yoga classes.

Exercise for older men does not have to be different from what younger men would do. Its just a matter of using more caution and discretion before trying to dive head into a intense exercise regimen. Things are a bit different as the body ages, but with the right trainer and medical supervision, older men should still be able to work at intense levels to help keep the body in shape.