Dakota Personal Training & Pilates Gift Certificate Contest

Dakota holiday gift certificate


Dakota Personal Training and Pilates is excited to announce our first contest.  We will be picking 5 winners over the next five weeks who will each receive a gift certificate valued at $125.00 for the studio.  Entering is simple, just fill out our contact form.  Want to add a little extra luck?  You can earn extra entries by “liking” our social pages and sharing them with your friends.


Good Luck!


Official Contest Announcement

Dakota Personal Training and Pilates is getting into the Holiday Spirit a little early!  We are giving away 5 gift certificates valued at $125.00 for our amazing studio.  Entering is easy, fill out the contact form on our website and in the message blank write “contest entry”.  That’s it!

Want to increase your chances of winning? You can also:

Like our Facebook Page, Dakota Personal Training and Pilates  and share our contest posts

Follow us on Twitter, Dakota PTP and retweet our contest tweets

Follow us on Instagram, DakotaPTPilates and like our contest posts


Each one of these social shares will gain you an extra entry!

We will be giving out one certificate each week starting on November 18th and then the following Fridays until December 16th.



The Rules and Regulations:

There is no purchase necessary, void where prohibited.  Prize value is $125.00 and can only be redeemed at Dakota Personal Training and Pilates, 118 W. 72nd NY, NY 10023, no monetary consideration will be given. Entries can be received anytime from Monday, November 7th 2016 at 12:00am until Thursday, December 15th at 11:59pm. Entrants must be a resident in the New York Metro Area (New Jersey, New York or Connecticut is considered the New York Metro Area in terms of this contest). Entrants must be over 18 years old.  Main entry must be through contact form located on www.dakotapersonaltrainingandpilates.com, additional entries after initial may be made through social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter).  Winners will be chosen at random on every Friday starting on November 18th, 2016 until the contest conclusion on Friday, December 16th, 2016 and notified on the Friday of selection.  Entrants will be chosen at random, additional entries increase chances of winning.  Winners will be announced on social media platforms and through e-mail newsletter.  By entering you consent that if you win your name can be used in promotional materials as well as on Dakota Personal Training & Pilates social platforms.  This contest is not affiliated with any other company or business entity besides Dakota Personal Training and Pilates.

Prenatal Fitness Questions Answered

One of the topics that tends to come up at some point between women and their personal trainers is “Can I work out while I’m pregnant?”  The answer is yes and in fact can be helpful to the mother as well as the baby.   Working out with a trainer also helps during this special time in a women’s life because workouts can be created to help the mother-to-be during each stage of her pregnancy.  Sure it might be tough, and mommies might want to stay in bed but here are some of the great reasons to keep active and motivated during those 9 months!

-Exercise can help make your delivery shorter and easier besides keeping your pregnancy weight down.  According to Suzanne Schlosberg from Fit Pregnancy and Baby, “No guarantees, of course, but strong abs and a fit cardiovascular system can give you more oomph and stamina for the pushing stage”.  Also many women find that they are able to recover from their pregnancies sooner and easier when they kept a regular exercise routine during their pregnancies.  

-You will sleep better and have more energy. Everyone has heard the horror stories from friends and family about the troubles they have had sleeping while pregnant.  Regular exercise has a calming effect on the body that allows for a restful sleep thus giving you more energy when you are awake since you were not tossing and turning all night.

-Keeping your body healthy is the number priority of mommies-to-be and regular exercise is a big key to having a strong immune system.

And don’t forget the amazing benefits for your baby:

-Babies whose mothers worked out while they were pregnant have a stronger cardiovascular system many studies have shown as well as healthier immune systems

Meghan Holohan from Today notes that children whose mothers were active during their pregnancies have better brain activity.

No matter if you were a fitness buff before your pregnancy or want to get active now that you are about to be a mom you can do it and a personal trainer can be your best guide to successful.  Contact Dakota Personal Training and Pilates to help you during your pregnancy journey, we have many trainers on staff that have experience with prenatal fitness.

10 Fitness Rules/Practices Advocated by a 30+ year Fitness/Athletic Trainer

I started working as a Trainer in the very, early 1980’s; during the years that I have worked in the Fitness industry there have been significant “paradigm shifts” relative to recommendations made towards obtaining optimal health and fitness. A big change in philosophy was the move to recommend “carb loading” and a “no-fat” or “low-fat” diet which morphed to variations on the Atkins (low or no carb diets) which in turn, was abandoned for variations on the (currently popular) “Mediterranean diet”. In Resistance Training the popular concept of “muscle isolation” exercises (as advocated by the founding members of the NASM as well as other fitness experts), has given way to the practice of “muscle and movement Integration” also known as “Functional Training”. Unfortunately, the “net” result of these scientific and philosophical “shifts” has led to a significant amount of confusion (especially in the lay population).

After three decades of working on the “front lines” of the Health and Fitness industry, I have come to the realization that most successful programs have a number of common elements. These elements can be succinctly distilled into “10 Basic Rules/Practices”. If your fitness program includes all or most of these rules, you improve your chances of obtaining your fitness goals. One caveat though, these “Rules/Practices may not be universal or 100% scientifically supported, but “in my experience” they are realities that I deal with each working day; in other words, “I have found these truths to be self evident” (to steal a good turn of phrase!).

1. Consistency. This refers to a “Life Style” choice, not a “short-term fix” like losing 10lbs for the High School reunion, but a commitment to get in and stay in shape long term (hopefully, for the rest of your life).

2. Frequency. Workout a minimum of 2, non-consecutive days per week. I strongly recommend to my clients that they aim for doing something active “most” days of the week. However, the more days a week that you are active, the more thought that needs to go into your program (to avoid overuse injury: I will discuss this concept in more detail a little later in this article).

3. Intensity. You need to workout hard enough to obtain results, but not so hard that you injure yourself. In resistance training, Intensity is expressed in relation to a “One Repetition Maximum” or how much weight you can lift once for any given lift. A One Rep Max (1RM) is equal to 100% effort; 40% to 60% of your 1RM is relatively easy (you might do 15 to 20 repetitions (reps) with this weight); 60%(+) to 80% 1RM is moderately difficult (you might do 8 to 15 reps with this weight); and 80%(+) to 100% is difficult to very difficult (your rep range might be from 10reps (80%) to 3 or 4 reps (90%) to 1 rep (100%).

In Cardiovascular training, Intensity is expressed as a percentage of your maximum heart rate (HRmax): HRmax can be determined a number of ways. The easiest means of figuring out your HRmax is to take 220-your age=HRmax. The resistance training % values for “easy”, “moderate”, “difficult” and “very difficult” are also good, general guidelines for cardiovascular intensity levels.
You need to start “easy” for 3 to 6 weeks then progress to “moderate” for 3 to 6 weeks in order to lay the “foundation” to be able to do the more difficult work. As a general recommendation, “the harder you work, the less you should do, and the more recuperation that you need. Which leads us to the next Rule/Practice.

4. Variety. You cannot do the same thing all the time and expect to make significant fitness improvements. As I stated in Rule #3, “start easy and progress to difficult”. You should stay at each level of intensity for about 3 to 6 weeks; this allows your body adequate time to “adapt” or “grow stronger”. Once you are in pretty good shape (able to handle the demands of the “difficult” workouts, you can interject more variety into your workout week by having one workout be difficult, one be easy and one be moderate. A common mistake that many exercisers make is that they try to make every workout hard; this is impossible to sustain. You need the “variety” in order to support the more vigorous (difficult) workout sessions.

5. Recovery. Improvement occurs during rest and recuperation. When you workout, you “signal” the body that it needs to get stronger but it actually gets stronger during rest (or “relative rest”). Relative rest means that you can workout, but in a way that does not stress the body parts that were previously stressed. For example, if you “killed” yourself running, you can achieve “relative rest” by doing an easy stationary bike workout. 24 to 48 hours usually suffice for recuperation (as long as adequate nutrition is provided: please see reference to “Mediterranean diet”)

6. Science vs. Fad. Lots of scientific research has been done to support or establish the recommendations behind resistance training or running training (relatively simple activities); however, the activities that might fall under the heading of more Fad like, such a Hot Yoga or Pilates training, are more difficult to study and quantify due to the more complex nature of the movements performed in them. I am not saying that these activities are not beneficial, but science has not yet come up with a, easy to understand, system to measure the benefits of the Fad activities. My successful clients typically do more scientifically supported activities, like weight training and cardiovascular exercises like running or biking as the bulk of their workouts and “supplement” their activity levels with more Fad activities.

7. Injury. The problem is injury. The solution is R.I.C.E.S. (RICES): Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate, Support. Injury might be a sprained ankle, or maybe Achilles tendinitis, stop doing whatever it was that injured your body part and put a bag of ice (or a bag of frozen peas) on it. Leave the ice on long enough that you cannot tell the difference of being poked in the chilled area by one finger or two or more fingers. Wrap the injured part with a Ace bandage (if possible), this “compression” helps to limit swelling and hastens healing (as does the ice). Elevate the body part above your heart level (this also helps to limit swelling), and use a pillow or brace or some other device to “support’ the injured body part so that it is not further injured. If the injury does not feel a little better after a day of RICES, or if it seems to be getting worse, seek out medical help.

8. Aging. It is not a coincidence that aging follows injury. Unfortunately, one thing that most of my older clients have in common is that they have one or more injuries (usually not from my training recommendations). The majority of my clients are well informed relative to the limitations of their ailments, and I usually follow their or the doctor’s lead when it comes to designing a exercise program. You cannot go wrong by following the KISS axiom–“keep it simple stupid”. I do not get too fancy, I keep the intensity easy to moderate and try to ensure adequate recuperation between training sessions. The key here is to keep open good lines of communications and work from there.

9. Appearance. Working out to look good can and should be an ongoing process. It is easier to “stay” in shape than to “get” in shape. The secret to looking good is energy control (or diet- the current, favorite, recommendations is to eat less animal protein and fats, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, limit process foods (such as sugars and flours) and limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages to 1 or 2 a day (or less). If you keep your body fat levels low (about 10% for men and 20% for women) your exercised trained muscles will look more defined and your organs and other body systems will function better . When clients come to me in order to look better for a wedding or other social event, they usually do not allow enough time to achieve their goals. When getting married, start getting in shape when you start planning the event-give yourself 9 month to a year. For most other events, give yourself twice as much time as you think you need.

10. Performance. Training for performance varies from training for appearance in that, for performance, there is usually a specific time frame in which to prepare. You want to “peak” on the day of your competition. It is beyond the scope of this article to cover all the ways in which athletes “peak” for their sport. I recommend going on the computer and finding literature pertinent to preparing for your sporting event or finding local clubs or groups that will help you achieve the success that you hope for in your sport.

Hopefully, much of the prior information will have been old news to you, or seem like common sense, which has been my Litmus test over time as a marker for a successful exercise program. If it makes sense, and it works, I am not going to reinvent the wheel when the tried and true “wheels” get me where I (and my clients) want to go. The bottom line is to do “something” active, do it consistantly, following some simple guidelines and you stand a very good chance of achieving more than you anticipate. Good luck and good health!

What is the best exercise for maintaining bone density?

As we age many of us are unfortunately faced with bone loss.Doctors often prescribe various medications or recommend supplements to help with this problem. Another frequent recommendation is exercise, but how do we know what type of exercise is most effective?

The best type of exercise for prevention of bone loss is that which is weight bearing. In other words if you are able,it is best to be on your feet rather than on a machine.For example, jumping or running which are high impact exercises are very effective whereas biking and swimming are not.Unfortunately what goes with osteoporosis is often advanced age. Therefore jumping and running might not be the best idea. However, exercises that are low impact are often appropriate, such as walking,hiking, or stair climbing.

Strength training is also highly recommended in the maintenance of bone density.Weight bearing exercises surrounding a bone will stimulate bone growth.Therefore, just about any type of strength training is effective. Areas that are commonly affected by osteoporosis include the lower spine, hip, and wrist. So examples of exercises that would be good for building bone density in those areas would be squats, lunges, chest presses, back extensions, or hip extensions.All of these exercises cause muscle to pull on bones in those areas of the body. Therefore stress is placed on these bones which stimulates bone growth.

Needless to say this will not make much of an impact if it is not done with a reasonable amount of frequency. The American College on Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week for most adults. The same guidelines would apply to someone looking to prevent bone loss. However, it is important to keep in mind that new bone growth is actually taking place during rest. Therefore make sure your workouts are adequately spaced apart. Studies continue to support the benefits of exercise on bone health, therefore it is a great way to be actively involved in improvement this important aspect of your body.

What is the right intensity to aim for during cardiovascular exercise?

There are many different ways to approach cardiovascular exercise. The best approach depends on what your goals are. In other words, if you are a de-conditioned person who is looking to improve your overall health, then your approach would be far different than an athlete looking to enhance sports performance.

Exercise intensity and duration for those who are de-conditioned will start at lower levels. A good way to measure exercise intensity is by a scale known as RPE or rate of perceived exertion. Basically this is an intensity scale rating from 1 to 10. Beginners should aim for workouts that are maintaining an intensity of about a 5 or 6 for 15 to 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week. The goal would be to increase duration, intensity, and frequency gradually. This can be self regulating depending upon how this program is tolerated.

Suppose you are already engaging in an exercise program and looking to improve? A good way to accomplish this would be an interval training program. Interval training involves bouts of exercise that are much higher on the RPE scale followed by much easier recovery bouts. For example, after a warm-up you might hit numbers 8 or 9 on the RPE scale for very short periods of time followed by a number 3 or 4 to recover.

Interval training can take you out of your comfort zone and cause you to work at a much higher level. This will help you eventually increase cardiovascular capacity and enable you to sustain more advanced intensities for longer periods of time. Interval training can help your lower intensity longer duration workouts by increasing the capacity of what is considered low intensity.

A program that combines both of these methods is most effective. Varying cardiovascular intensities will not only make you more fit, but will also prevent boredom and overuse injuries. This will lead to a more well rounded program and a more fit individual.

What age is it appropriate for a child to start working out?

As the childhood obesity epidemic continues, many are looking to remedy this problem not only with diet, but also with exercise. However, there is confusion over when it is appropriate for a child or young adult to begin working out in a gym.

There have been concerns that lifting weights could be dangerous due to stress on growing muscles, tendons, and growth plates. Most are in agreement that intense training could be in fact dangerous for children. However sub maximal training can be extremely beneficial to a child or young adult.

As a child’s body is growing they are also learning movement patterns. With proper instruction correct learning could prevent injury and enhance athletic activities. It also promotes confidence in children when they are taking control of their health and well-being during a time when their bodies are changing.

When developing a fitness program for a younger person it only makes sense that the program match the ability of the participant. Therefore most programs should begin with very basic movements and light weights, if any. As ability increases the fitness program can become. more advanced. However, reasonable goals should be set. The goal of the young person should be to make gradual improvements in cardiovascular capacity, as well as muscular strength. As a child is developing, aggressive strength building or cardiovascular programs are not appropriate. They are at a point where not only their body is maturing, but also their coordination. When designing a program for this for this population these changes should be kept in mind.

Keeping these factors in mind, a young person can start working out once they have the maturity and focus to execute a safe workout. Not only will there be benefits from having a healthy body, but it will come hand in hand with increased confidence and self esteem. Its never too early to begin good habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.

What is Periodization and How Could it Apply to My Fitness Program

Periodization was first developed for athletes to avoid over training. Basically it involves cycling on and off of varying workout intensity levels. The idea is to avoid injuries associated with overtraining, as well as setting a specific time frame to be in peak shape. An example of periodization would be a marathon training program.

The average person would use this type of program most likely to to enhance their appearance for an upcoming event. A typical example of this would be a person preparing for a wedding or class reunion.
Many of us will start working out in anticipation of summer approaching.

If you one of those people here are some recommendations to get yourself looking your best this summer.

Given that we’re still right smack in the middle of winter this would be a good time to be following a quality strength training program. Ideally this would involve two or three days of strength training per week with a day or two rest in between. Best results would come from 8 to 15 repetitions of 3 to 4 sets with 60 to 90 seconds rest in between sets.

Once we get closer to the summer your program should change. This would be the best time to incorporate either circuit or interval training. The added cardiovascular exercise will help burn fat and calories. The desired effect is that you will become more lean which will show off all that muscle you built during the winter months. This being said, for women please don’t worry that building muscle necessarily means getting bigger. As long as you stay at repetitions that are about 12 to 15 you really are not working on building size. It’s repetitions below 10 that are best for that.

Although periodization was developed for athletes preparing for peak events, it doesn’t mean that your peak event has to be athletic. Hard work that is done during this never ending winter will help you look your best when the summer comes.


How to best incorporate strength training with Pilates

Ok, I know this title will cause most people who do pilates to take exception because pilates in itself is strength training. However many of those who have never tried it have preconceived notions on exactly what pilates is. When asked, many will say that it is mostly about stretching and building only abdominal strength. Well yes, it is those are common objectives during pilates workouts, however when done correctly pilates should be a total body workout focusing on muscular strength as a whole. It can be as aggressive and challenging as the fitness level of the participant will allow. This being said, pilates can also be very rehabilitative. Just as in any fitness program, the workout is dictated by goals and ability.

What is unfortunate about traditional strength training vs. pilates is that most people do either/or and the two are usually not done in the same month, week, or day. If you have researched the best ways to stay fit, chances are you have learned that diversifying your workouts are the key to being the most fit as well as the way to avoid injury. There is no reason why pilates cannot be incorporated into any strength training program. The problem with this idea is that gyms and trainers usually have them in separate areas and most instructors are not trained to do both. If this is the case in your gym, I would highly recommend alternating pilates workouts with workouts done in a traditional gym setting.

Although both forms of training are effective workouts, the focus for each is different and the two complement each other well. Many pilates exercises challenge the abdominal region somewhat more than traditional strength training exercises and take you through larger movements. When you are feeling tight from a possible heavy strength training day, the larger ranges of motion done in pilates can give you that needed stretch. It is important to note however, that just because you are stretching it doesn’t mean you aren’t having a tough muscular workout. It just means that the larger ranges of motion complement possible compromises made in range of motion when doing a heavier strength training workout.

In an ideal situation, pilates and weight training can be included in the same workout. If you have the ability to work with an instructor who is trained in both then going in between the two can not only be a tough workout, but the diversity will result in a very well rounded program. The way that the programs are tied in together can vary every workout according to what your body needs. In other words workouts can simply be divided or you can switch from one modality to the other throughout the workout. This approach is what will keep you the most fit as well as keeping you from becoming injured.

Pushing through the “plateau effect”

It is so gratifying measuring your success after beginning a diet and exercise program. The results that come at the onset are motivating and fuel you to continue. People begin to notice improvements in your physique and your clothes begin to fit differently. However, after a period of consistent improvement, your rate of progress begins to slow down or stop completely. This slowing or stopping of fitness gains is referred to as the “plateau effect”. In order to get your fitness gains back on track, you need some information and to make some changes in your “up till now productive” routine.

Lets start with the word “routine”; for our purposes, it means to do the same or similar thing at the same time and place. I will use the following spinning class schedule as an example: for the past four months you have been taking coach Spinshoe’s 60 minute, high intensity spin class ,religiously, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5pm. To reiterate, same class, same instructor, same days, same time. Congratulations on your persistence (or OCD). Unfortunately for you, there is a process that occurs with religiously following a routine, it is called “adaptation”. This means that you get use to doing what was once challenging (you “get in shape”), and what was once challenging is no longer challenging. The net result of this occurring is that your fitness improvements slow down or stop.

In order to avoid the “plateau effect” you need to systematically change up your routine. Having a “routine” is good, you simply cannot stay on the same one too long. Plan on sticking to one routine for 6 to 8 weeks, this should allow ample time for improvement without hitting a plateau. After 6 to 8 weeks, significantly change your routine. Referring back to the aforementioned spin class schedule, a significant change might be to take a 90 minute, low to moderate intensity spin class on Monday and Friday and try a circuit training weight class on Wednesday (or on Wednesday and Saturday-I recommend resistance training at least two times a week in order to optimize improvements). You will notice that you do not have to completely stop doing your old activity, but you do have to change “how” you are doing it; you are changing from a high intensity class to a low to moderate intensity class (that is 30 minutes longer too!). Stick to this “new” routine for 6 to 8 weeks, then move on to another “significantly” different routine.

You do not need to keep coming up with “significantly different” routines indefinitely (but you may enjoy this creative aspect of the “art and science” of fitness- I know I do!). Try to find 4 to 6 different routines that you enjoy and that work for you, then cycle through them; staying on each routine for about 6 to 8 weeks. You may find it motivating and useful to keep a fitness log or journal and try to beat the “personal best’ that you achieved the last time you cycled through a specific routine. Good luck and keep improving!

Benefits of working with a personal trainer

For those of you who may question why working with a trainer may be a better choice than working out on your own I would like to share some info on what often brings people into my gym and how working with our trainers has helped. Reasons to seek out a trainer range from the desire to be motivated by someone who could help you achieve your goals more effectively to the fear of feeling as though working out alone may cause injury. There are also many who simply have learned that they will not stick to it on their own without help.

Unfortunately a foot on the scale or breaking out that summer wardrobe is often the driving force in hiring a trainer. Most of us have good intentions, but have had trouble sticking to a fitness regimen. An appointment with a trainer is a commitment to make time available for yourself and your well being. It’s also a way of sending yourself a message that your level of fitness is important enough to devote a focused amount of time with a professional. Having someone help to clarify your goals and working toward them with you is a huge motivator.

There are also those who seek out help from a trainer due to aches and pains that didn’t used to be there. Lack of energy may be a problem as well. This population sees their quality of life declining and simply wants to feel better. They may not only have specific goals, but also special needs that can be addressed more effectively by a trainer who is educated on how to address those needs. For example, a common limitation of someone new to fitness is lower back pain. How can you begin to know how to lessen that pain and avoid making it worse? Often people begin a workout regimen on their own and get injured which causes them to quit. A qualified personal trainer will not only help you work around an injury, but should be able to give you workouts that can help minimize pain.

Finally there are those who have been working out on their own, but have hit a plateau and are unsure of how to progress beyond their current level of fitness. This is frustrating because where you may have developed the discipline to work out regularly, the initial results may have stalled. Your body has the ability to adapt to what you are doing so in order to continue to improve your program must evolve along with your fitness level. A trainer should be able to continuously challenge your body and help you come up with alternatives to the workouts you have adapted to.

Whatever the reason that inspires one to seek our a trainer, better results can be counted on. Your chances of preventing injury and achieving your goals will be greatly enhanced. Better habits will be formed and your time in the gym will be far more productive.