1. Secrets of shaping-up from a top trainer

    Jennifer CassettyDo you have a reunion, wedding, or other special occasion coming up?  Maybe you just want to look and feel fabulous. Then do not miss a word of our Q&A interview with top celebrity trainer and coach Jennifer Cassetty, as she shares in-depth tips for shaping-up.  She has helped celebrities shape-up after childbirth and for special projects. Enjoy her no-nonsense approach and favourite exercises. http://www.jennifercassetty.com/
    DD: Do you have any tips to motivate women who have a hard time sticking to a
    fitness program?
    JC: It’s so much easier and less stressful to live a consistent lifestyle than the hard and fast "diet" approach. You have to be realistic with your goals and not expect immediate results. That will definitely spell doom. Try making subtle changes toward a healthier lifestyle slowly. For instance, incorporate more healthful snacks in-between meals or walk an extra 20 minutes once week. The progression approach will ease you into a more consistent workout routine and slowly build your endurance so you can get into the hardcore workouts!
    DD: Why do you suggest doing strength training before cardio?
    JC: Science proves it. You have more energy to lift if it’s done beforehand, plus it raises your heart rate to increase metabolism and is easier to maintain the "fat burning" heart rate.
    A strength training tip I recommend is to start with your large muscle groups before the smaller ones, like abs, squats, pull-ups and push-ups. Then divide up into quads, hamstrings, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Here is a sample work out for the large muscle group:
    Ab-Mission: Lie flat on your back, hands under your butt, then lift your feet about 12 inches off the ground, spread your legs, then bring back down together. This works your lower abs, thighs and increases flexibility.
    To work smaller muscle groups: Hip Lifts: With a small medicine ball between knees, slowly lift your hips while your feet stay flat on ground.  Your hips should slowly rise off the ground. This works your hamstring, butt, lower back — and squeezing the ball can make certain areas of the female body tighter. So it will be like the first time you see your lover after exercising.

    DD: Is it possible to shape up in four weeks and what would it take?  
    JC: Totally depends on what kind of shape you’re in. It’s easier to make small changes if you have a healthy fitness base already than to drop 20 pounds in two weeks.  Can we take you from fit and healthy to rocking that cute dress? Yes.  If you desire to lose 25-30 pounds, I can get five off of you happily and still see changes. 
    For 4 weeks; I would have you do 3 days of strength training with 5-6 exercises per muscle group. (Day 1 lower body/core; Day 2 Chest/back and abs; Day 3 shoulders, biceps and triceps) 5 days minimum of 30-40 minutes. Some exercises include: squats, lunges, and walk-out push-ups. Later, I would include some straight aerobic training with intervals like walking for a few minutes, then sprinting, and then back to walking for about 20 minutes.
    DD: Can you reshape you body with exercise?
    JC: Absolutely. You can tone arms, build a butt, lean out your legs, flatten your abs, etc.  Obviously, you have to include a nutritious and healthful diet.  That will help you re-shape your body.  Some of my favorite exercises to get your body in shape are:
    Cross Crunches: Lying face-up, with one leg crossed on your knee, then crunch up slowly.  Hold this position for a few seconds then return to the start position.  It’s simple and really works your lower abs.
    Planks (quad hip work): Plank exercises are some of the best moves to strengthen your core, which comprises not only your abdominal muscles, but also the muscles of the back, hips, and pelvic floor.  You start by lying face down on a mat.  Place your forearms on the mat with your shoulders aligned directly over your elbows. Clasp your hands in front of you. Extend your legs behind you and rest on your toes, as if you are going to do a pushup.  Your hips should not be lifted to the ceiling, nor should your back be arched.  You should look to attain a straight line between your shoulders and toes.  You should be tightening your abdominal muscles to help you hold the position correctly — and hold it as long as you can. Return to your start position and alternate between sides.  Do this for 25 reps.
    DD: Do you have any tips for women who would like to lose a quick 5-10 pounds or jumpstart a diet?
    JC: Clean it up. Clearly, no sugars, less alcohol, soda, and, souped-up coffees. Learn to be more creative with seasonings than sauces and salts.  Eat fruit before
    noon — and no sugar-loaded desserts — to get some energy in your body.  Lunges and crunches always shape and tone your lower body.  You can do the cross crunch mentioned earlier to help tone your body. For lunges, step out to the side, go down as far as you can go, then return to the start position. This increases blood flow and flexibility.
    DD: How many days a week and for how long do you need to exercise for fitness, and how long for weight loss?
    JC: You make a plan for exercise in what your schedule allows. If it’s important and you "don’t have time", make it happen anyway.  I train people who travel four days a week, so they see me every weekend, and I help them be creative with or without a gym/kitchen while on the road.  For the average young professional, 4-5 days per week.  Aim for two to three sets of weights and cardio every time you set foot in the gym. It will help with stress and keep you focused.  Weight loss should happen at a steady pace of 2-2.5 pounds per week for a healthy result.  Having a personal trainer is also good because we provide motivation, ensure you’re doing the exercises properly, and switch routines for your body so you to feel a change.
    DD: Can you suggest any super-effective exercises that are easy to do at home, for hard to tame areas such as the upper arms and abdomen?
    Yes.  Stop eating cheese.  You can get calcium other ways, but cheese is high in fat and sodium and keeps the "water" on those fun female fat-pocket areas.
    The single-most effective exercise does not exist, but my favorite is being creative with push-ups and squat variations.  Try push-ups with one arm and alternate between arms.  Or even try doing 10-15 push-ups on your knuckles and immediately get into squats.  Slowly add weights and you will see results.  These two exercises will increase your heart rate to burn fat faster, and it targets those hard-to-get “fatty” areas.
    DD: You are a celebrity trainer. Do celebrities have the same body challenges as other women?  Do any examples come to mind?
    JC: Women are women no matter what. Shapes and sizes change depending on genetics, but females face the same challenges in the thighs, buttocks, lower belly, and "back fat" areas.  Plus they actually have to change shape/size depending on the roles they have.  They don’t get the luxury of relaxing into one certain fitness routine to achieve their "ideal" body.  I focus on the areas they need help with most.  I have a good ear to listen to goals, but a better eye to see what really needs to be fixed and make that happen for them personally and their public! :o)
    I trained a national TV host who just gave birth. She wanted to get back in that bathing-suit body just in time for the summer.  Some things we worked on were the new “mommy” areas, like the thighs and lower belly fat. The “mommy fitness” routine was divided into circuits and she gradually saw results.  Here is a sample routine I did with her:
    First Circuit:  New Mommy Starter Crunches: Extend your arms with fingertips on upper thighs.  Contract your abdominal muscles and raise head and shoulders and slide arms up until you touch your knees, then lower head back down. Work up to 10 repetitions of this exercise.
    Second Circuit: Extended LegBridge: Lying on your back, right knee bent with foot flat on floor, left leg extended straight in the air.  Drive down through right foot and raise hip and press through left heel up into ceiling, and then relax back to starting position.
    Third Circuit: Baby Wall Squats: (This also helps with posture and lower body strength for lifting that baby!)  Stand against a wall with your back flat from your shoulders to your hips. Your spine should be touching the wall. Walk your feet out slightly and, bending your knees, slide down the wall, keeping your back flat. Then return to the starting position.
    (Editor’s Note: This routine would work for any woman trying to firm her abdomen, bell, butt and thighs — hello!)