Press Release: Small Group Personal Training Craze Hits Minneapolis with PACK™ Training!


Contact: Randy Zarecki, 1024 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN  55415
(612) 455-2246

raz@fitnesstogether.com
GetFitnessTogether.Wordpress.com

Fitness Together Minneapolis Introduces Leading Fitness Techniques to Everyday Consumers  

Minneapolis, MN – Unlike the “one-class-fits-all” approach to fitness found at Minneapolis’ large group training classes, boot camps, and big box gyms, Fitness Together Minneapolis has redefined the concept of group fitness with PACK™ training, a highly personalized approach to group training where consumers are challenged by state of the art fitness techniques.

Small group personal training at Fitness Together Minneaplis combines the energy of up to four people with coaching from a certified trainer, all in a private setting. From swinging battle ropes at full speed to using suspension trainers to conduct pull-ups, PACK™ training participants engage in total body movements designed for maximum results – a similar approach to a professional athlete’s training, yet scaled to meet each person’s fitness level. PACK™ sessions are packed with exercises that give clients the highest return for their efforts in the least amount of time, burning loads of calories and working more muscles at once.

“Research shows that people tend to push themselves more when working side by side with others in a group setting, yet large group environments do not allow for proper coaching on technique, intensity, modifying exercises to avoid injury, or switching up of routines to attain a higher fitness level,” said Randy Zarecki, owner of Fitness Together Minneapolis.  “PACK™ gives clients the best of both worlds, offering personalized fitness, cardio and nutrition regimens in a small group setting that builds camaraderie and peer motivation. This program also makes personal training more attainable for the average consumer, and builds more revenues for our trainers. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

At about half the cost of a one-on-one personal training session, Fitness Together’s small group personal training program begins with a comprehensive fitness assessment of each member. This includes evaluation of the person’s current fitness level, analysis of range of motion and trouble spots and setting personal fitness goals. Clients are encouraged to train at least twice per week, where each session includes a dynamic warm up, strength training, metabolic conditioning, and stretching. Each client also benefits from nutritional counseling sessions where they learn how to eat light, eat often, and eat healthy.   “Obesity and resulting health issues are increasing at a dramatic rate, and we have a tremendous opportunity to curb this trend in the Minneapolis community,” said Zarecki.

“Whether trying to lose weight, feel their best or achieve higher levels of athletic performance, our clients receive individual assessments to gauge progress against their personal goals to look, feel and perform better, and individual exercises are adjusted for person’s level of conditioning and any physical limitations, yet still benefiting from training with a group.”

Fitness Together Minneapolis is located at 1024 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis MN  55415.

For more information, please call 612.378.8898 or visit GetFitnessTogether.com
Randy Zarecki Owner & Chief Fitness Officer

Fitness Together Minneapolis

1024 Washington Ave S. Minneapolis  612.378.8898

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Respect the Gray Squirrel and be Healthier this Winter!


If you’re looking to stay healthier THIS WINTER, and wonder why your FLU SHOT DIDN’T WORK LAST WINTER, you might not want to look any further than the Eastern Gray Squirrel  for a role model!

Busy in fall gathering and building food caches for the winter months, humans who similarly scurry now for some sunlight now can in fact build sufficient stores to outlast a long, dark Minnesota winter!

For while much has been written about the significance of Vitamin D for good health, The New York Times recently stated that humans can store up A FULL YEAR’S SUPPLY  of Vitamin D with daily doses of just 5 to 10 minutes of direct sunlight during the summer months.  Summer’s gone now, that’s true, but it isn’t too late to roll up the sleeves and pant legs on sunnier fall days to build up your Vitamin D stores … especially if you’ve shunned the sun all summer long.

Exercise is, of course helpful in fighting off infections and preventing many diseases,  but your next best bet could be as simple as getting enough Vitamin D.   Especially in northern climates where exposure to the sun, our primary source of vitamin D, is limited during the Fall and Winter, increasing attention is now being given to vitamin D requirements. And vitamin D deficiencies.

In fact, some physicians contend that a major portion of winter ailments can be attributed to Vitamin D deficiencies, including heart disease, chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, arthritis, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, PMS, CrohnsDisease, cancer, MS and other autoimmune diseases. Wow!

A Minneapolis client of ours has seen Vitamin D deficiencies in action 1st hand. Working through lower back pain for several months, she’d gone through physical therapy, chiropractic care, and had several MRIs and X Rays performed to help diagnose the source of her ailment. Nothing worked. Eventually, her physician suggested a diet loaded with Vitamin D, and her back pain went away!

The problem is, it’s really, really hard to compensate for the lack of sun.

Your body manufactures about 20,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D with just 20 minutes of sun.  To get that much vitamin D in your diet would require something like 40 glasses of milk per day! (3300 calories, even if it’s skim milk). The good news is that Vitamin D is fat soluble, so your body is capable of storing D in your body fat. You won’t need to consume the entire amount that you would otherwise manufacture, but if you can’t get some sunshine, some dietary intake becomes critical.

In fact, to be keep your levels of Vitamin D sufficient,  an occasional trip to a tanning bed is probably the surest route!  This, of course, carries the added risk of developing skin cancer, so many of us avoid those.

As a Result, Natural Foods, become your next best source of vitamin D, and here are some high quality choices:

Salmon, canned (3 ounces) 530 IU
Salmon, cooked (3.5 ounces) 240–360 IU
Tuna, canned (3 ounces) 200 IU
Soy milk, fortified (8 ounces) 100 IU
Orange juice, fortified (8 ounces) 100 IU
Milk, low-fat, fortified (8 ounces) 98 IU
Cereal, fortified (1 cup) 40–50 IU
Eggs (1 large) 20–26 IU
Swiss cheese (1 ounce) 12 IU

The problem is, even a diet with only these foods you could still be deficient in D!   So we’re not done yet. How much, exactly, you need daily is still under debate, but a daily intake of up to 2,000 IU is currently considered a safe upper limit. The medical community agrees that up to this much won’t create other problems, even if they can’t agree on what the required minimum should be.

So, even with a naturally rich vitamin D diet, some supplementation is recommended. The best way to take vitamin D supplements is with Calcium. The two nutrients work together to build strong bones and teeth.

Furthermore, it’s been shown that taking vitamin D with Calcium can actually reduce your fatty food cravings and help you lose weight!

So, with the Sun getting further and further away for the next 3 months, be sure to Squirrel away some natural sun D when possible this fall!

And the next time you wonder if the little grey guy is actually going to make it to the curb in time, remember … some sun now could keep you healthier this winter!

Looking for even more useful nutrition tips? Ask me about our new Nutrition Together program!

An Interval Training Primer


Interval Training 101

Most folks get their 1st taste of interval training with cardiovascular exercise.    

In fact, one of the most commonly used and basic interval programs is the hard/easy cycle.

Walkers frequently become runners with interval training without even knowing it!  They walk for a bit, run for a bit, and then walk for a bit more.  And in the process complete their 1st interval workout!

An interval is quite simply a distinct period of exercise followed by a distinct period of rest.

The aspiring runner who runs until ‘very tired’, then rests ‘until feeling better’ is interval training every bit as much as an athlete who sprints for 30 seconds and then walks for 2 minutes.

Four things create an Interval of training:

  1. The Intensity of an Exercise Effort
  2. The Duration of an Exercise Effort
  3. The Intensity of the subsequent Recovery Period
  4. The Duration of the subsequent Recovery Period

Fitness professionals, athletic trainers, and coaches prescribe interval training to accomplish highly specific goals.  For athletes who depend on explosiveness and quickness, much emphasis is placed on short duration high intensity efforts to develop burst and power … those required during competition.

Similarly, endurance athletes commonly use lower intensity intervals with long (and sometimes really long) durations, perhaps with very short recovery periods to develop cardiovascular efficiencies… again, as is required during extended competition.

Unfortunately, athletes and exercisers who exclusively limit their training in this way actually miss out on multiple beneficial exercises askew to their niche.   

Here’s why:

For one, interval training, is hardly restricted to cardiovascular exercise!   In fact, you might legitimately argue that the very 1st straight set resistance (weight lifting) programs were actually the original seeds of interval training!  A Straight Set does quite handily satisfies all 4 of the above interval requirements: lift a weight until failure; then recover for 2 minutes, for example.

Secondly, narrowly focused cardiovascular intervals actually fail to cover all of the zones within a heart healthy exercise program.

More educated athletes do do some form of cross training these days to supplement their sports specific activities, but runners who simply run run run, and cyclists who just ride ride ride are not only prone to overuse injuries, but also cheat themselves of the benefits of a more balanced exercise program.

For the average forty fifty something simply looking to look and feel better, interval training  has significant relevance.

Non only do they play a part in a comprehensive cardiovascular program, but they can be a key element in resistance training as well!

Indeed,  straight sets are hardly the degree to which interval training can be applied to resistance training!  In programming for muscular endurance and body fat reduction,  low resistance, high repetition, longer duration INTERVALS  are a highly effective and extremely efficient resistance training interval.

And THAT is way I’m so excited about MONDAY’S Rollout of our Small Group Training Program where resistance training intervals will be frequently used! 

Unselfishness’ Edge in Exercise Programs


Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  

– Vince Lombardi

I have a bike race on Saturday.  On Tuesday I needed a short, hot spiky interval workout to prepare and condition my body for clearing the flood of lactic acid soon to be heading my way!

I’ve done this type of interval training plenty of times before … on the bike, on the treadmill, on the elliptical, running hills, etc.  But on Tuesday morning, with that deliciously crisp fall air still hanging around, I headed for the rink for some open hockey.

Hockey’s an ideal game for short, hot, spiky interval training: skate hard, blow up, get off the ice and recover.  Winning (or trying to win) the race for a puck is a very quick way to find the Red Zone.  Do it again and again and again and again and you’ve got a nearly perfect hot spiky interval workout!

But what makes my engagement with the game truly unique, and why it is particularly effective for me in this way has mostly to do with mostly sucking at hockey.

I did not grow up playing the game in an organized way (I began playing at 41) , so when I jump into a local game, I’m almost always the least skilled player on the ice.  What happens next is, I think, fundamental human nature: recognizing my limitations, my primary <ahem> goal is to simply not be THE liability on my team.  It’s rare that I hit the net with the puck, so above all else, I don’t want to be THAT GUY creating the turnover or easy goal that let’s my team down.

I’ve worked extremely hard in individual workouts throughout my life, but almost never as hard as I do when my team is counting on me, or when I’m cycling in a group sprint ride.

  It isn’t necessarily for everyone, but I think group exercise is valuable in at least a limited way for most folks.

I still prefer to train mostly by myself for lots of reasons, but on occasion,  what is helpful to my overall program, and what I NEED most is someone ELSE to count on me.

And THIS is way I’m so excited about the upcoming Rollout of our Small Group Training Program!  

We now have a way to deliver well managed personal training in a small, teamwork-like environment!

PACK WEEK IS THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 26TH!

Limited space still available, but call now if you want to jump in!

Reinvent Yourself!


Having worked with clients who want to change themselves and change the way they live for almost 30 years now, I’ve never really paid attention to the Reinvent Yourself hoopla.  

In my sheltered, blindered world almost everyone we work with wants that! 

So when I did a google search on “Reinvent Yourself” this morning, I was truly amazed at what I found.  1st, there were about 1,100,000 results.  Hmm.  That’s a lot.   Not only that, but the 1st page of results had a Success Magazine Article: Ways to Reinvent Yourself; a reference to a Tim Ferris Interview; and a More Magazine Reinvent Yourself Convention link

Dang, that’s pretty trendy, if not heady stuff!

But the best news is this: if you’ve ever wondered if the path you’re on is heading too much uphill, or if the life you live is simply missing too much, you don’t need to travel to New York, or spend hours in front of your computer, or wonder any more.

I’ve partnered with Kristi Hemmer of 168Coaching and we’re delivering a Seminar on

Reinventing Yourself here in Minneapolis on Wednesday, September 14th! 

Register by September 11th and get 40% off –  just $15 by Monday! 

       ReInvent Yourself!           

Design a new life and lifestyle for yourself!

Mulligans are do-overs in golf.  A second chance to hit that winning drive down the fairway without a penalty shot.   If you could have a mulligan in life, what would you do over?  

How would you do it over?

What’s stopping you?

Join Kristi Hemmer of 168Coaching in partnership with Randy Zarecki of Fitness Together and Vital Vitality for a 120-minute interactive workshop in which the focus is on you:  relationships, fitness, travel, career, community, wellness, lifestyle, family, and more.   And how you can “Reinvent yourself” without a penalty shot.

This workshop includes:

More Details and Regisration Information Here

Conquering Carbohydrates Part 3: The Complex Carbohydrate Conundrum


A few weeks ago, we posted Carbohydrates For Dummy’s Part 1: Saccharides and Such. 

A week after that we posted Part 2 of the Conquering Carbohydrates story: an introduction to Complex Carbohydrates.

Then came a few distractions and the Annual Fair Foods Blog, but we’re back on track today  with the 3rd and final part of the Conquering Carbohydrates Conundrum.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

If sugar, starch, simple carbs, complex carbs, and ne t carbs weren’t enough to test your meddle, two other sometimes confusing carb-centric terms to contend with are Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL).

Glycemic Index simply ranks foods on how quickly they affect glucose levels in the blood stream.  Developed in Toronto in the 1980s to help doctors prescribe diets for diabetics, foods that quickly elevate blood sugar levels have a high glycemic index.  Foods that increase blood sugar slowly have lower glycemic indices.

In addition to Diabetics, Athletes also tend to be highly aware of blood glucose levels to both prepare for and recovery from intense exercise.   Regular exercisers can also benefit from an awareness of blood sugar levels, however, because the of the effect cortisol has on glucose metabolism when you are low on blood sugar.

You might think that you’re doing yourself a favor skipping lunch, when in fact, doing so triggers your body to generate more cortisol.

Cortisol … the “your under stress hormone” counteracts Insulin production and reduces the metabolism of glucose.  The result of this is disproportionately more fat storage in anticipation of famine!  Additionally, the increased Cortisol increases appetite so you’re more likely to overeat at your next meal!

It would be great if you could simply categorize carbohydrates into glycemic index groups that fit nicely within some saccharide category, but the truth is, it’s somewhat of a frustrating memorization exercise.

Take roots.  Carrots & yams (both simple carbohydrate foods) have relatively low GIs of 39 and 51, respectively, while potatoes have GIs as high as 85!   The difference here is that potatoes are very starchy.

So, starchy means high GI then?

Not quite. Plenty of other starchy carbs, like Oats, Bran, Rye and Barley are actually quite low in GIs scoring in the 20s and 30s.  Similarly,  wheat and most rices also score fairly low (50s), while brown rice pasta has an exceptional and soaring 91!

And then there’s fruit.  Unless I’ve missed something, no fruits are starchy.   They’re fibrous and watery, but not starchy.  But here’s the rub: some fruits have very low GIs, like grapefruit (25), plums (39), and apples (38); and some fruits have moderate GIs, like mangos (56), apricots (57), and raisins (64).  Why then, does watermelon have a sky high GI of 72?

It makes no sense, and in the end, you must simply memorize or carry GI tables with you to get it right!   Here’s one build for the sometimes-popular South Beach Diet.

Attempting to solve this mystery steps in Glycemic Load.

As it turns out, part of the reason why inconsistencies exist across the simple to complex carbs GI spectrum is related to quantity consumed.   For example, a single piece of hard candy (nearly all sucrose) will trigger a smaller glucose response than a bite of a banana.  But if you consume 2 cups of each, the candy outpaces the banana quite quickly!

What’s more, Net Carbs also have a role.  As mentioned above, the fiber content will affect digestion speed, which, in turn, effects blood sugar fluctuations.  So, in the late ‘90s,  the Glycemic Load became a more popular way to determine food effect on blood sugar, defined as the percentage of GI times Net Carbs:

Glycemic Load = Glycemic Index / 100 x Net Carbs

Got that?  Well, before you start looking for a smart phone app to calculate GL, have no worries, many nutritionists have simply done the math for you with tables they’ve built themselves.  In fact, one of my all time favorite nutrition sites, NutritionData.com doesn’t list GI at all, but instead lists an Estimated Glycemic Load number for most of it’s nutritional listings.  The values are estimated simply because complete data on GI and Net Carb values simply hasn’t yet been compiled for all foods.

What you also need to know about GI vs GL numbers is that a high GL number could be a low GI Number:

Within the heavily debated carbohydrate controversy, exists a separate embedded micro controversy around GI and GL.  As with carbohydrates, many experts propose low GI/GL diets within the weight reduction context, while others staunchly oppose it.  A 2008 German study, for instance, actually found that low GI/L diets actually correlated to higher bodyfat results.

Withstanding GL wizardry, one food category that emerges consistently high in the GI tables is highly refined grains, particularly those in baked goods.  French bread, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, rice cakes, and many breakfast cereals ALL SCORE very high on GI tables.

Refined Grains and Added Sugars

Refined grain products (cookies, cakes, cereals) also suffer from two other significant problems: added sugars and nutrient deficiency.

In fact, according to the  USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the single largest problem with many American diets is, indeed,  these refined grain products.

Not only do they trigger a short, spiky bust in glucose, but they are also reasonably ‘empty’ calories with very few micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  To make matters worse, they frequently include added sugars to make an already unhealthy food even more caloric.  Sometimes inclusive of saturated and/or hydrogenated fats as well, and well, these products are really quite evil to health and fitness professionals.

The Carbohydrate Conundrum: What to do?

With all of this going on, it’s no wonder the general public is confused about carbohydrates and their dietary relevance.  Here then is my professional recommendation on the topic.

First, if you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s orders, not mine.

For all the rest of us:

  1. The easiest way to defuse most of your concerns about carbohydrates is simply to exercise more!  Not only will you metabolize more calories in doing so, but other hormones involved with exercise and exercise recovery help keep cortisol and insulin balanced.
  2. Recognize that carbohydrates are, above all else, your body’s primary fuel source.   While it’s true that your body always metabolizes a blend of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, carbohydrates are your primary fuel source.  If your engine is just idling, back off on the fuel!
  3. Adjust your complex carbohydrate intake with your anticipated physical activity
    1. If you are sedentary, you need very complex few carbohydrates.  Most of your energy will come from stored energy sources (glycogen and body fat).   Eliminate most complex carbohydrates from your diet to avoid gaining body fat.
    2. If you are active, you need some complex carbohydrates.  Try to get most of your complex carbohydrates early in the day, typically before 2:00 PM.  Switch to mostly simple carbohydrates after that.
    3. If you are regularly exercising, or an athlete, you need a LOT more carbohydrates. Get most of your complex carbs early in the day, but do include moderate quantities later in the day.  Don’t hesitate to include higher amounts in your diet if you have a high intensity exercise event the following morning.
  4. Eat a wide variety of and large quantities of fruits and vegetables.  Follow the seasonally available produce and you’ll get plenty of variety.  Make sure you get at wide variety of color in your diet.   A lot of people miss out on the yellows: squash, yams, yellow peppers.
  5. Try to incorporate more legumes into your diet: green beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans; etc.
  6. When choosing complex carbohydrates, focus on whole grains, and high fiber sources.  Steel cut oats, whole wheat, and wild rice are good examples.
  7. Always avoid or minimize highly refined grains, particularly those with added sugars.  MOST of the grocery store bakery fits into this category: cookies, cakes, pies (it’s the crust), french bread, muffins, and doughnuts.   What’s worse is that many of these will also include partially hydrogenated fats.
    1. Avoid or eliminate them if you are serious about your health.
    2. Heart disease is still the #1 cause of death for men and women in America and these fats are deadly
Did I Miss Anything?   What’s your burning or unanswered carbohydrate question? 

A funny, but instructive story about two women and the value of a training partner …


My wife Shirley was looking for a new activity to fill the void of her recent retirement from women’s hockey.  My new business acquaintance Kristi was new to town and looking for local things to do.

As a fitness pro, it was easy to suggest that the two of them connect for some exercise!   So I introduced them to each other.

They went back and forth for a week or so on options and venues from mountain biking to hiking and eventually settled on a run date about 7 days out.

What happened next shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.   It also reminded me of the importance of two concepts critical to fitness success: an impending deadline and a trusted training partner.  

I’ve long tried to impress people on the significance of a training partner: someone to hold you accountable to simply showing up, and who is impervious to your many excuses for not exercising!

Sometimes your partner is your personal trainer, but it can just as well be a buddy on the same fitness excursion as you are.  In looking back at the years I was most competitive as a body builder, and then at the years I was competitive as a mountain bike racer, I was always at my best when I had a consistent training partner.  Always.

Neither Shirley nor Kristi had been running much before the date was set, but THEY BOTH RAN 3 TIMES INDIVIDUALLY in the week prior to the meetup run date!  3 times each, in all likelihood, that neither would have run had the date not been set.  

Maybe it’s the sometimes subtle competitiveness in all of us that won’t allow us to be the weak link on a team.  Or maybe it was the sense of urgency created with a firm run date on the calendar, even if only a casual run for two unacquainted women.

Who really knows?

What I do know is that establishing that deadline and committing to a training partner, even if only for a day, is one of the true secrets of Fitness Feng Shui!