Have a question for the Trainer? Click here

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 1

Question 1: What are the best exercises using weight to tone the whole body?

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your question. There are several exercises you can do to tone the whole body: exercises on a stability ball using light weights, Pilates, resistance bands or a TRX class using your own body weight.

However, I have personally found that swimming is an excellent workout to tone the entire body. You are using all your muscles. Swimming workouts cause less stress on bones, joints and connective tissue and the water gives you the natural resistance for your muscles.  Even if you don’t know how to swim, walking or running in the water or basic aerobic exercises in the water is a great workout.

Keep it up and good luck!

Question 2: I walk, jog, run, swim and eat healthy most of the time, however I can not get rid of the belly fat. HELP!

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your question. You can’t spot reduce fat in a certain area, especially the abdominal area. My recommendation is to increase your calorie burning activities. If you walk or run maybe change up to cycling or swimming. If you do these activities 3 days a week change it to 4-5. Also the more lean muscle you have, the better, this will increase your metabolism and burn more fat. Also using your larger muscle groups like quads and hamstrings will help increase your metabolism.

Lastly, diet plays a big role. It’s great if you are eating healthy majority of the time. Have a nutritionist or dietician look at your food log and they may be able to make some additional recommendations. Keep at it and good luck!

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 2

Question: 1 What is the best way to tone up? I do not want to add muscle on top of fat, so what is the best way to rid fat and become lean?

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you so much for your question. Here are some tips to help get rid the fat and become lean:

TIP #1: Cardio training Cardiovascular exercise is arguably the best way for you to burn fat. Even if you are eating the best diet possible, you will not see the full benefits if you do not do cardio exercise. Start off at about 20mins per session and work your way up to an hour or so. When doing cardio you need to try and stay in the “fat burning zone”, which is about 65-70% of your maximum heart rate. To determine your “fat burning zone” subtract your age from 220 and multiply it by 0.65. That is what you want your heart rate to be.

TIP #2: Eat small meals, more often -western society is slowly moving away from the traditional 3 meals per day and there’s a very good reason for that. As soon as you start eating your metabolism starts to break down the food. It takes everything it needs from the food including nutrients and energy.
When you only eat 3 meals per day you metabolism has a chance to slow down in between meals. This is not good if you’re trying to burn fat. You need to keep your metabolism fast throughout the whole day. The faster your metabolism is working the more fat and energy you will burn. Maintaining a high metabolism is imperative to losing weight and keeping it off.

TIP #4: Up your protein intake If you want to keep all your hard earned muscle (and I know you do!) while burning fat it’s very important that you keep your protein intake as high as possible. Because carbohydrates are the bodys main source of energy it will always use them up first. Once there is no carbohydrates left your body will turn to it’s fat storage. If you do not have enough protein intake per day, your body will start taking protein from the muscles resulting in catabolism (breaking down of muscle tissue)

Stay focused and good luck

Question: 2 What are the best circuit workouts to do? I am limited on time so would like to get the most impact workouts done in less then 30 min a day.

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you so much for your question. Here are some tips to help you:

Pick an upper-body exercise.
The trick with circuit training is to use whatever you have handy. If you’re at the gym, you have a wide range of options, but all you really need is your body. You can choose a different upper-body move each time through the circuit or simply repeat the same exercise every time if you want to keep things simple.


  • Circuit 1: Shoulder presses
  • Circuit 2: Bent-over rows
  • Circuit 3: Standing dumbbell curls
  • Circuit 4: Triceps dips
  • Circuit 5: Pushups
  • Circuit 6: ab curls

Pick a lower-body exercise.
Just like you did with the upper body, choose exercises that will work each part of your lower body. You can change up the moves each time through the circuit or keep them the same.


  • Circuit 1: Walking lunges
  • Circuit 2: Sumo squats
  • Circuit 3: Calf raises
  • Circuit 4: Hamstring curls on a Swiss ball
  • Circuit 5: Deadlifts
  • Circuit 6: Supermans

Choose a sprint for 1 minute.
Research shows that short, fast sprints are the most effective way to torch fat—especially around your midsection. Pick any type of cardio you like and go all out for 1 minute.


  • Circuit 1: Running
  • Circuit 2: Jumping rope
  • Circuit 3: Rowing
  • Circuit 4: Cycling
  • Circuit 5: Up-hill jogging
  • Circuit 6: Stair climbing
  • Rest for 1 minute.

You’ve earned it! Let your heartrate come down and then go back through the circuit as many times as you’d like!

Example: Get a drink and make sure your music is all set for the next round.

Stay focused and good luck

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 3

Question 1: What is the best time frame to workout to get the most energy and benefits from the workout?

Answer from Trainer Karen:Hello Soror and thank you for your question.

While there is specific research being conducted on this topic, unfortunately the answer to the question, varies based upon your training goals, and your exercise adherence. My recommendation is that you get to decide the best time for you to exercise based upon your personal goals, schedule and lifestyle. Ideally, you will pick a time that you are able to stick with consistently and make part of your daily or weekly schedule. If you are training for competition, it’s wise to modify your training to accommodate the event start time, and it’s always wise to warm up before any workout.

Good Luck and Stay Strong,
Soror Karen Gipson, CPT

Question 2: How important is sleep to my workout?

Answer from Trainer Karen:Hello Soror and thank you for your question.

Hello Soror and thank you for your question.

Sleep is extremely important for body composition and helps the body and brain restore and rejuvenate in many ways. Plus, sleep (or the lack thereof) affects important hormonal activity tied to appetite and therefore has a direct impact on your ability to lose weight (i.e. body fat).

Good Luck and Stay Strong,
Soror Karen Gipson, CPT

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 4

Question 1: I have trouble staying motivated to workout or eat healthy. HELP!

Answer from Trainer Karen:

  1. Set small and measurable goals that will help you get to your overall large goal.
  2. Keep a food and exercise journal
  3. Enlist support from friends and family
  4. Keep nutritious foods on hand and ready to eat
  5. Don’t let one set back keep you from working towards your goal.

Stay Strong and Good Luck
Karen Gipson, CPT

Question 2: What are the best workouts for losing weight on my love handles?

strong>Thank you Soror for your question. Here is my recommendation:

    Three things you need to do-

  1. Healthy diet, to build energy and burn fat.
  2. Cardio-vascular and resistance training, to burn fat and build muscle. Also, more muscle tissue can increase metabolism.
  3. Targeted abdominal exercises, to help firm the muscles under the fatty area. Remember the abs are a muscle.

Special note- you cannot target fat loss. Fat will be used as energy for your workouts and will be reduced after time performing cardio, resistance training and eating healthy.

Stay strong and Good luck,
Karen Gipson, CPT

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 5

Question 1: What are good exercises for people that have back issues? I need workouts that strengthen but not strain.

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your question. Here is my recommendation:

When you’re in pain you may want to stay in bed and not move around, but that results in further loss of mobility will only prolong the pain.

Staying active means continuing with regular day-to-day activities to avoid becoming sedentary. There is some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with low back pain. There is also some research to show that pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific low back pain. Ideally, your choice of activities should involve elements of endurance as well as strength and flexibility as well as hydrotherapy (exercising in water) and aquarobics.

Stay Strong and Good Luck,
Karen Gipson, CPT

Question 2: How can I incorporate my kids in my workout?

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your question.

There are many activities you can incorporate your kids in. Here are some examples:

  • Go the distance. Whether you decide to bike, hike or kayak, kids love to get involved in these distance workouts. A child’s endurance is pretty astonishing for their size and you can always keep a beginner’s pace. None of these activities have to feel like an exercise regimen, yet they’ll give you a total body workout that you can feel. And your kids will love spending time outside. All around a win-win work-out.
  • Get in class. Whether it’s yoga, Pilates or swimming, plenty of Mommy & Me classes provide a workout for you and your little ones. Instructors tailor these classes to fit both adults and little ones, so you’ll have a professional making sure that neither parents nor kids are overdoing it.
  • Go Old School. Pull out that jump rope and dust off that hula-hoop. Your old recess games were quite the workout. Teaching them your old childhood favorites will be a fun activity for everyone. But don’t forget to give your kids a chance to update your skills with a few of their game.

Stay Strong and good luck,
Karen Gipson, CPT

Ask the Trainer Segment: Week 6

Question 1: Can you recommend your top 3 favorite fitness workout videos? I would like 3 good 30 minute workouts that I can incorporate in my routines?

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your questions, here are my recommendations:

A.) As far as workout videos there are a number of them out there. I think it also depends on the type of workout you are looking for and that will be dictated by your goals. Cardio? Strength? Or core? Also, whenever you are looking at videos, make sure it is approved by a National Certified Fitness organization-American Council on Exercise or the National Association of Sports Medicine, which are two that I would recommend.

B.) As far as a 30 min workout routine, I need more information from you in order to access and make an educated recommendation.

Thank you,

Stay Strong and Good Luck,
Karen Gipson, CPT

Question 2: Can you recommend your favorite 5 Pilates moves? I need something to strengthen my core and help make me more flexible?

Answer from Trainer Karen: Thank you Soror for your question, here are some examples with definitions of basic Pilates moves based on the National Pilates certification-Stott Pilates:

Single-leg Circles

a. Single-leg circles work your abdominals, hips, thighs and hamstrings. Lying on your mat with both legs extended along the floor. Lift your left leg off the floor toward the ceiling. Point the toes of your left foot and then make clockwise circles with your left leg, without moving or lifting your hips. Do five counter-clockwise circles and then repeat with the right leg.

Single-leg Stretch

b. The single-leg stretch works your trans-versus abdominis. Begin by lying on your back. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and extend your right leg into the air at a 45 degrees angle. Inhale and hug your left knee into your chest. Still inhaling, switch and extend your left leg as you hug your right knee. Exhale and hug the left and then the right knee. Perform five to 10 reps per side.

Spine Stretch

c. Spine stretch lengthens your back and hamstrings. From a seated position on the floor, with your legs spread hip-width and your feet flexed apart, stretch your arms in front of you. Exhale and lower your head in between your arms as if you were going to dive. Inhale and return to the start. Do three to five times.

Side Kick

d. Side-kicks tone your abdominals and gluteus maximus. Lie on your right side with your hand supporting your head. Extend your legs and then move them to a 45 degree angle along the floor in front of you. Lift your left leg to hip level and kick it out in front of you and then swing it back behind you without rocking. Do five to ten and then switch sides.


e. Criss-cross works your abs and your oblique’s to better define your waist. Lying on your back with knees bent, shins parallel to the floor, hands behind your head and elbows wide, lift your head and shoulders, stretch one leg out and pull the other in as you rotate your upper body toward your bent knee and then twist to the other side.

Stay Strong and good luck,
Karen Gipson, CPT

Ask the Trainer

Sorors, our fitness trainer would like to hear from you. Do you have questions that you have always wanted to ask a trainer but were too embarrassed or did not know a trainer? Well, here is your opportunity! Send us your questions and every week, we will post two to three questions and answers by our very own trainer, Soror Karen Gipson.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.