Friday Run Down:You made it to the Gym….Now what?

Back in the day, I was guilty of going to the gym and jumping on any machine that appeared least intimidating and would work my problem area at the time, my thighs. Like I mentioned before, I don’t really count calories however I use to assume that because the elliptical required you to swing your legs to and fro really fast, it was the best machine to tone my thighs. Now don’t get me wrong, the elliptical is excellent for slimming thighs, but my problem was that’s the ONLY thing I was doing. An hour on the elliptical and then I’d call it a day. Now I thankfully know better, but I still understand how difficult it can be to venture into the gym wanting to be able to workout on your own but not really knowing which machine is best for what. Time to break it down.

-J.S. Gates

First and Foremost sustaining something at an even pace for long periods of time is the basis of Cardio. I say this because often times when people, websites or magazines highlight a Cardio workout prior to target exercises or weight lifting, its common for people to assume running is THE Cardio workout their referring to. I don’t like running, it’s kills my knees and it’s just not my thing. For me and others, our Cardio workout is probably going to consist of us jumping on the elliptical, bike, stair stepper, rowing machine or jumping in the pool for a swim. Depending on what machine you choose, using equipment is a great alternative to getting in 20-30min of Cardio prior to doing a floor or weight lifting sequence.


Great for all over toning and burns about 100 calories by simply walking briskly. To blast fat and burn more calories, include interval training in your treadmill routine. Warm up for five minutes with a moderate walk, and then increase the speed. Next, increase your pace by 1/2 mph or so for one minute, then return to your previous pace. Continue alternating between a moderate and vigorous pace, and then finish off with a slow five-minute walking cool down.


Perfect for people with bad knees like me! The calorie burn rate is pretty high since you’re using a lot of muscle mass in the standing position. Elliptical machines with arm components can further increase the numbers of calories you burn.

Stair Climber

My natural response to stair climbers is “ugggghhh” but it’s an amazing machine nonetheless. Stair climbers are known to work the thighs and tush while burning calories, but they also benefit the belly area. As you build muscle during your stair climber workouts, your body will become a more efficient calorie-burning machine. This helps you lose weight all over, including the belly area. While working out on the stair climber, engage your abs by drawing your belly button in and keeping your core tight. However, don’t forget to breathe!

Stationary Bikes

For some reason I always thought this was killer for my calves, which is true however the stationary bike is a less intense calorie-burner than some of the other machines. You’ll need to pedal four miles to burn 100 calories. Also a common mistake is people to jump on the bike without adjusting it properly according to height. Improper seat height can cause gradual knee issues.

Rowing Machines

Ok, so I use to be a Coxswain so I’m not a fan of people using the rowing machines if there’s not a trainer there to assist with properly alignment. The reason being is it’s possible to really throw your back out if your improperly yanking on the lever and holding all the tension in your shoulders. Steer clear if you have back issues, I do which is why I was a coxswain. However, if you’re up for the challenge this is a great total body workout, just remember to engage those abs.


More muscle use equals more calorie burn. The basic rule of thumb is that the machine that exercises the greatest muscle mass burns the most calories. There’s a flip side of that coin, too: If you’re a beginner, using more muscles means getting fatigued sooner — which will result in burning fewer calories.

Vary your routine! Don’t let yourself get bored, and aim to set time goals on a couple of machines during your gym time. But of course make sure you only use machines you feel most comfortable with. And don’t forget, once you get your Cardio in Take it to the Floor! i.e. do floor workouts, abs, planks, sit-ups etc.

Grab a Trainer. If you’re not able to grab a gym trainer for a quick overview as to how to use a particular machine, you’re at the wrong gym. Cancel your membership and find another one because EVERY gym should provide someone knowledgeable with the equipment.

Summer Special

Some people believe that if you workout, you shouldn’t treat yourself with food afterward. Good thing I’m not like some people, here’s a summer drink recipe just because! Thanks to Crazy For Crust for this excellent recipe. I’m making it this weekend!

Watermelon Lemonade & Watermelon Margaritas


    • 4 cups watermelon puree (from 1 small seedless watermelon), frozen into cubes
For each Lemonade, kid-friendly (serves 2)
    • 1 ounce lime juice
    • 1 cup lemonade
    • 2/3 cup frozen watermelon cubes
For each Margarita (serves 1)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec (orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 ounce midori
  • 4 ounces lemonade (I used Minute Maid 15 calorie from a carton, use what you like)
  • 2/3 cup frozen watermelon cubes


  1. Cut the seedless watermelon into chunks, remove the rind, and puree in a blender. I used a mini watermelon and got 4 cups of puree. You can use a bigger watermelon, if you want! Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze, a few hours or overnight.
  2. To make a kid-friendly lemonade: Place lemonade, lime juice, and frozen watermelon cubes in a blender and puree until smooth. Serves 2.
  3. To make margarita: Place lemonade, all alcohols, and frozen watermelon cubes into a blender and puree until smooth. Makes 1 large or 2 small margaritas.

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