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Personal Trainer Ingrid Johnson
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Ingrid Johnson

Are you Training, Toning, Working-out or just Playing?

By | Exercise

Many people set out to add some exercise into their daily lives, not knowing the difference between training, toning, working out and active-play- also known as exergames. Worse, they hire a trainer for a lot of money, not really knowing what they are getting for their money. The lack of being specific can not only drain your wallet, waste valuable time, but leave you without the result you desire.Let’s go through what each of these words mean in the exercise world, and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

First, the word training: Are you Training? The word Training means to ” learn a special skill, through practice and instruction”. It involves repetition, and yes, practice, practice, practice… You want to be training if you are preparing for a specific sport or event, say a marathon or to become a better golfer, skier, enter the Olympics etc. Training has a specific point or aim. An early verb sense, from Latin, to pull or draw, was the basis of making something grow into a desired shape. The word trainer, comes from this concept, and that is what I would describe myself to be.

To be a Trainer, in the true sense of the word, one must first understand the requirements of the goal of the student. Secondly, a trainer needs to be skilled in the science of exercise progression, and third a knowledge of proper exercise selection that is valuable to meet that result. That is why I train people for golf, ski etc. because I understand those sports and understand the progression it takes to improve and get good results.

Second, Working out:  To work out, you are performing a particular set of exercises involving several different muscles in one session.  It usually involves a plan to improve ones fitness level, be it endurance, strength, flexibility,  or just to exert oneself to better movements.  I would put most “trainers” in this category – they provide a workout for people that involve all or some muscle groups, in random order, in random progression. People sweat, feel good because they moved, weather with proper form or not, and go on with their day. After a little while people feel that their muscles are tighter, and that is a given, hopefully not injured. Some of these trainers are better than others, but no special intelligence or skill needed there, just some creativity And basic understanding of exercises. I would put CrossFit in this category.

Third, Toning: This is for people who already have muscles that they like, body fat levels they are happy with, but like a little extra “shape” to their physique. Since you can’t tone fat, only muscle, it is important to already have some muscle on you body. Most toning involves body weighted movements or light weights/tension, and I would categorize yoga, Pilates, barre, ballet or dance in this group. If you are lucky enough to have the body shape and bodyfat levels of a runway model, then this type of workout is for you.

Fourth, and lastly, Active Play. Getting yourself and others up  and moving may sometimes take a game to do it. Enter the concept of Exergames. Whether done organically, or with electronic devices, you are having fun and don’t even realize that you are working out. Exergames come in forms like sprints/games of tag, throwing a ball, cone runs or whatever hits your creativity. I would put running/walking in this category as well. You won’t tone a particular muscle, grow bigger biceps, improve the length of your golf drive, but you will burn calories, have fun and feel your body get stronger.

In conclusion, all these exercise forms are valid. You just have to pick one that meets your need and your goals. And doing so with knowledge is a valuable step to choosing what is right for you! Happy Exercising!

Mountain Climbing – Wrists and Ankles

By | Workouts

Mountain Climbing is the latest addition to the next Olympic games. The buzz is already escalating, with Climbing Gyms popping up all over the country. In 2018, over 400 climbing and bouldering gyms have opened up in the US alone. That is more than 10% growth yearly in the last 3 years, and more than doubled in the last decade.  While their  focus is on the Climbing walls and boulders, other offerings usually include climbing on silks (long hanging curtains), handstands classes, and yoga for flexibility.

Climbing clothes and gloves are also becoming all the rage in the fashion industry, as we shall see more of in the coming years. For example, the high end outdoor clothing company Moncler has found its 2019 collection inspiration from one or the first female climbers, Henriette d’Angeville. In 1838 she climbed the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps. She had to climb in a dress, as it was illegal for a woman to wear long pants, but designed her own pair of pants under her dress. It is said that many female climbers who followed, left their dresses halfway up the mountains and picked them up again on their way down, so as not to get arrested.

For those starting to engage in climbing activities, there is a new wave of muscle awareness around the wrist and ankle joints, which we have never seen before. For a long time, most training activities have focused on the core, and these smaller muscle groups have completely been forgotten… until now!

Whether you are climbing mountains or not, wrist and ankle pain inhibit a lot of activities. The wrists are important for writing and using the computer, eating, doing dishes and holding on to bags, as well as pushing your bodyweight off surfaces. Weak and stiff ankles result in painful walking or running and loss of balance. Stiff ankles also occur from walking in shoes all day, and never walking in bare feet. Ankle stiffness limits other joints to move properly as well, since ankles are at the foundation of the body and needs to transfer body weight and information to the rest of the body.

Surprisingly simple exercises that can be done anywhere will help to alleviate this problem and also show results very quickly. Here are some of my favorites:

1: The wrist wave

2: Wrist circles

3: The “motorcycle” wrist stretch

4: Ankle circles

5: Heel raises

6: Toe raises

7: Foot Eversion stretch

Strong wrists and ankles are imperative along with a strong core to climb well, and there are some great exercises that strengthen and stretch these areas. For more exercises and a full scale climbing-training program, visit my website IngridJohnson.net and my Youtube channel to see these strengthening stretches performed.

Pilates Quality of movement

By | Training with Pilates

Quality of movement – What is it?

The Pilates Method of movement often uses the term “quality of movement”.

I paused one day to ask myself – “Do I really know what this means?”, and “what does it mean to others?” I decided take this question to the Pilates Community and this is what they said:

Quality of movement means to….

Move freely and with ease in all planes of movement without pain.

Be present in the movement, connecting to your center and aligning the energies of each joint moving.

Move so it makes sense in your body

Move like a dancer or like you are in water

Have a fundamental natural coordination of muscles. All animals have this coordination which is why many of Pilates Exercises are named after animals.

Precise, controlled, purposeful, functional movement, leading to good alignment, postural stability and flexibility aiding pain free functional movement.

A rhythmic, expressive ground covering walk, tro and canter with suspension and suppleness….(In Horses of Courses)

Means precision and control – every movemen having a purpose

Moving within a range that can mimic the supple movements of a child.

It differs from person to person, but once achieved will inspire the recipient to believe in their bodies again!

Making your movements intentional! Asking – where is my body going now? And How? Using your mind and breath to move your body, so it feels more alive and connected. How can I expand my body from Spine out?

Making your movements with precision, control and flow. Hard to do in the beginning….

And lastly…………Precision is control effortlessly executed!



The Secret of Midlife Parenting and Fitness

By | Fitness


While many parents find excuses for not exercising and staying fit while raising kids, there are those who do. What is their secret? Some fit parents, share their insights.

Jeff, a 48 year old dad of a 14 and 16 year old, deals with time pressure by making fitness a PRIORITY. Getting up early, and sharing responsibilities with his wife. What drives him, is his children ASKING him to do things with them – playing basketball, running and biking. They like to play beach games together – throwing footballs, Frisbees and surfing. He knows it is a small window of years, when his kids want to spend time with him, so he takes advantage of it, and stays fit so he CAN! He loves the fact that he can “compete” with them, and keep up with them!

His recommendation to other parents is to simply make it a priority – everyone is busy… There is ZERO downside to staying fit. You have to keep up or stay behind – a lonely place to be.

His final words: “ I don’t want my body to get to a point that I cannot do something that I want to do. Exercising gives me these options”

Unisex fashion- unisex workouts

By | Workouts

When in July 2017, Vogue magazine published Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik on the cover with the title, “Shop each other’s closet,” the couple was met with some criticism and called “gender-fluid”. A much better reception did National geographic receive with their special edition called “Gender Revolution” with a transsexual nine-year-old on the cover. Gender neutral fashion-shows are growing bigger and ever more popular. The borders between men’s and women’s fashions are being erased, and I’m hoping so will men’s and women’s workouts. I would love to see transsexual workouts as normal as transsexual clothes.

As clothes become less and less gender-stereotyped, so will work outs. More men are doing yoga and Pilates, and more women are doing weight training, kettle-bell training, CrossFit and Animal Flows. I am looking forward to more understanding and appreciation between sexes as the stereotypes lessen. While it is true that men and female have different hormonal makeup, where it is really important is in the elite athletic arena where menstrual cycles have an impact on training and performance.

Here are my recommendations for some excellent Unisex Exercises:

  1. Plank
  2. Squats
  3. Lunges
  4. Pushups
  5. V-sits
  6. Side Planks
  7. Twisting crunches
  8. Skydivers

10 Things you must know before starting Pilates

By | Workouts

10 Things to know before starting Pilates


1. The Pilates method of training was developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany in the early 1900’s. It was originally intended for rehabilitating injured soldiers of the 2nd world war, using bedsprings for resistance. After Joseph moved to New York, his method of training was discovered by Boxers, Ballet Dancers and other athletes to strengthen their physique and recover from injuries.

2.     The original set of exercises, using only body weight, (no equipment) was only 34. Many variations of them has since then been developed, but the “core 34” still stands as the foundation.  All other exercises stem from these – important to know and thus notice how an exercise repeats itself in different ways, like a theme in a musical composition.

3.     Besides the Mat, other Pilates equipment are: the Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Arc Barrel. All but the Arc barrel are Spring- loaded equipment.

4.     More than just a series of exercises, there is a distinct mindset to Pilates. Performing the exercises without this mindset of mind-body connection is not doing Pilates. You can call it what you want, but it is not the same thing. Besides Yoga, Joseph was perhaps one of the first to develop the concept of Mind-Body Connection, meaning, the Mind tells the Body what to do and is concentrating on the movements. There is an aspect of courage to trusting your muscles and a desire to master your movements.  He believed so strongly in controlling ones movements that he wanted to call his method “Contrology”, but his friends felt that would never “sell” and would be too hard to pronounce.

5.     The clothing to wear for Pilates: Joseph himself wore very little clothing. He was often pictured in a turtleneck sweater and underwear. Today, mostly bare feet or sticky yoga socks are worn on the feet, and fitting clothing allows full expression of movement without restriction.

6.      Every movement has and internal and external component. Ignoring the internal part of the movement is not the intention of Pilates. If the movement is external only, it can only engage the surface muscles, and not the core.

7.     The movement sequence is designed to be in a flow. There is an order to the movements that has a science and purpose behind them. Joseph organized theses movements in a particular order for maximum benefit.

8.     Every movement also has an opposition. Much like a teeter-totter, when one body part moves in a certain direction, then another one moves in the opposite direction. The key is to start these movements at the same time.

9.     Joseph Pilates was a revolutionary against the “then-popular” high repetition style of training. He taught fewer repetitions with mental focus yields better results. Therefore most of the exercises are in the 10-20 rep range, with some as few as 3 repetitions.

 10. Pilates is NOT A Series of stretches, nor is it a flexibility exercise modality. The main purpose of the core is to avoid movement. Pilates is a core stability training modality. Flexibility is achieved by having a more stable body. It is not the main focus of Pilates.



How to prevent falls

By | Fitness, Training

Falling is the number one injury to Seniors. About 1/3 can expect to fall each year. The risk is greatly increased for people with Parkinsons – the imbalance, stiffness and festation that often accompanies this disease.

I have seen that even after minor falls, people become fearful of doing the same activity again. Major falls can of course be debilitating and even cause death.

So, where do most falls happen and how can one prevent them? It turns out –  most falls happen at home. Your home has many hidden hazards such as loose carpets or rugs, cords, water and oil spills. Then there are clothes, slippers, and socks laying around on the floor. Keep a diligent watch over your floors, ask another person to look over your house with a fresh set of eyes,  and remove anything that you can trip over. A neat, tidy home is essential for your safety.

The most hazardous area in your home is the bathroom – most slips happen while getting in and out of the shower. Install handrails,  safety bars and nonskid mats on the floors.  On stairs, make sure you also have solid handrails and hold on to them!

Another way many people fall is by carrying too much, which blocks the view of the ground. Preferably carry only in one hand, and use the other hand to support you, should you need to.

I have personally been told that of many falls that have occurred, when turning around too quickly in the house.  Be aware of when turning – turn slowly and  hold on to something, in case of sudden dizziness.

The most important step to avoid falls is of course to keep up your strength, balance and agility with regular exercise. Practice picking up your feet rhythmically and with extra height. A simple 5 minute session every day of small marches and squats should be adequate to see improvement it this area.

What’s the point of counting steps?

By | Workouts

There has become a magic number when it comes to health, “the 10,000 steps”! But does counting steps really make a difference in our health and weight loss?

The 10,000 step concept was introduced in 1964 Tokyo Olympics when a Japanese company wanted to encourage people to move more. They launched a step counter called “Manpo-kei” which was translated to 10,000 step-counter, and became hugely popular.

People used to move more throughout the day, and the reason we have gone up in weight, is not so much because we eat more, but because he move less, According to Mikael Mattsson, at Karolinska and Stanford University in California.

Just walking more, normalizes our blood pressure, our insulin sensitivity and lowers risk for heart disease, which is of course very positive.

But of course, to go down in weight and improve your conditioning, you need about 150 minutes of intense exercise and, or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week. It can be 30 minutes 5 days a week for a 50 minute 3 days a week.

Any activity Will certainly improve your health. So, don’t sit still!

Focus on one goal at a time

By | Fitness

There are many reasons for working out: to improve your sport performance, lose weight,  (bodyfat), tone muscles, build muscles,  get stronger, overcome or prevent injuries etc.

Often there are several goals we try to achieve, for example fat loss AND better muscle tone. What happens when we try to work on several goals at a time? Sooner or later they come in conflict with each other, And neither goal gets fulfilled.

Sadly, I see this all the time in the gym watching  people train day in and day out, looking exactly the same way, day in and day out, or worse… year in and year out….

When you have several goals, the best thing to do is focus on one at a time. Professional athletes use this method, known as Periodization. For example you can focus on weight loss for six weeks to three months, then strength training for the next six weeks to three months. When you start to see results and you start to plateau, it’s time to change focus.

In order to get the results you desire- a razorsharp focus is of utmost importance!