Category: Lifestyle

Go Barefoot

by Maurita Marley, Group Fitness Instructor

Go Barefoot with Elevate Fitness

Runners – have you ever considered running barefoot?

You might be asking yourself, “What? And ditch my hi-tech running shoes?”

Now before you dismiss this as just a crazy idea, read on …

First of all, let’s clarify – although running completely barefoot is a very natural thing to do (if you’ve read Born To Run by Christopher McDougal you will understand what I am talking about), I am actually suggesting a minimal shoe such as the Vibram 5-fingers shoe. You know…the one that looks like you’re wearing a glove on your foot. There is not actually any cushioning or support, but the sole provides a barrier to protect your tender foot from nasty things that could be in your path.

And why am I suggesting that it a good idea to make such a change in footwear?

If you have ever had a cast on an arm or leg after an injury, think of what happens when the cast is removed. There is a loss of muscle strength so therapy is needed to build up the muscles again. The foot covered by our heavily structured shoe is no different. There are over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the foot which will atrophy from lack of exercise too! Humans initially walked on their bare feet. When the skin at the bottom of the foot is stimulated, it begins to assess the surface beneath it. A flexible shoe free of cushioning and support that provides separation for the toes will create a situation very similar to being in bare feet. So as we run, the body provides its own technology, and the foot strike will aim for the midfoot rather than the heel. Our highly cushioned and supported shoes force a heel landing which can cause stress to the body over time. Think of those you know (and maybe yourself!) who have suffered from knee issues, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, hip problems, plantar fasciitis, and other injuries. Back in the 80’s when step aerobics made its debut, studio shoes started to become more cushioned. But instead of protecting us from our landings on the step; the cushioning actually may have weakened the foot making us susceptible to these and other injuries.

Learning a new technique such as barefoot running requires patience as you want to build up your time and distance gradually. Over time, your body may begin to feel stronger, have greater endurance and actually minimize the risk of injury. But the key is to learn some Foot Fitness and to start slowly. Learn proper technique as well as stretches for the feet and lower legs. One place to start is by taking a willPower Method class to learn about foot fitness and how to land safely on your feet. As a bonus, you will strengthen your entire body from the ground up and increase your cardiovascular endurance.

Even if you decide to continue to use your running shoes, it should still make sense to remove your footwear from time to time to re-connect with sensory stimulation. Step outside and allow your bare feet to make contact with the grass, sand or dirt and you may even begin to enjoy some of the many health benefits of Earthing while you wake up those foot muscles!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You should always consult with your physician before making any major changes to your exercise programs or habits. While barefoot training can be beneficial for many, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. The recommendations and opinions shared in this post assume as much.

Maurita teaches willPower classes at Elevate Fitness which are a type of barefoot training. Learn more about these and other Elevate Fitness Group Classes here, and remember that your first class is always free at Elevate! Just fill out the form below:


Try Something New for 30 Days

by Jason Jaquays-Tarbox

I recently stumbled upon a Ted Talk that promotes the idea of giving yourself 30 Day Challenges. (This is a short 3-minute-ish video, and it’s entertaining – do yourself a favor and watch it!)


As a user of the Panda Planning systems, I’m a big fan of setting challenges for myself, however, my planner has a spot for a weekly challenge – no monthly challenges. My planner DOES, however, have a spot for monthly goals. Well, now I got to thinking about the differences between challenges and goals.

I did what I always do when something intrigues me: a Google search. According to this post on SparkPeople, “a GOAL is the purpose towards which an endeavor is directed; an objective the terminal point of a journey or race, and a CHALLENGE is to engage in a contest, fight or competition to take part in something”.

Of everything I found online regarding the difference between challenges and goals, I liked this explanation the best because it seemed to articulate what my initial thoughts were relative to the subject. So where a goal might be to complete a 5K, a challenge would be to run three times a week for a month. A goal might be to lose 10 pounds whereas a challenge might be to avoid sugar for a month.

This, of course, gave life to another line of thinking: setting a series of challenges for yourself might, in fact, be the easiest way to reach your goals. Running several times a week (the challenge) is certainly a good way to ensure you can complete a 5K (the goal). And certainly giving up sugar for a month (the challenge) would be a good step to take when attempting to lose ten pounds (the goal), right?

Now, you should know, I am obsessive about closing the activity rings on my Apple Watch at least five times a week. And I love an app called Done that I used to track my water consumption. Both of these are challenges that I’m able to track for myself. Is the goal to drink more water or be active? No, the goals are to be hydrated and healthy. I’m already using challenges to meet my goals!

So maybe you have a health or fitness related goal, I mean, you are reading this blog, after all. And maybe you’ve struggled with figuring out how to reach that goal. My advice is simple: set the goal, but then focus on challenges to get you there. It’s easier, after all, to rise to a simple challenge than it is to reach a complex goal. Try my favorite challenge advice for new participants in a fitness program:


I can hear the questions already.

Isn’t that unhealthy? Doesn’t my body need time to recover? Won’t that be too strenuous for a beginner? What if I don’t have the time?

Well, this post isn’t about excuses. And I don’t want to dwell on them, because I think that’s another great challenge: no excuses for 30 days.

Will you rise to the challenge? Maybe. Will you reach your goals? Maybe. Will you simply close this browser window and forget all about what could literally be life-changing advice within the hour? Maybe.

What determines the answer to these questions isn’t fate, circumstance, your schedule, your body mass index, your diet or anything else. What determines the answer to these questions is YOU.


BONUS: Elevate Fitness offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its full memberships, which means you can even join a gym while participating in your own 30-day exercise challenge with no financial risk involved. Fill out the form below to get more information about how we can help you start your own 30-day challenge.


Should You Buy Cycling Shoes?

By Tonya Warner

Cycling Shoes Can Make Your Workout More Effective

If you’re a regular participant in indoor cycling classes, you already know that it’s a perfect low impact way to raise your heart rate, torch calories, and increase your lung capacity. You’ve also most likely looked around at your peers and noticed those sleek looking velcroed shoes that a lot of people are wearing. Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself “What’s the difference between regular sneakers and cycling shoes and should I invest in a pair?” Before you talk yourself out of it because they tend to be expensive, here are some major advantages to owning a pair.

-Because of minimal wear and tear to your new indoor shoes, they will last for years.

-Cycling shoes have stiffer soles. This means the stiffer the sole, the more power you get when pedaling. Also, you’ll have more balance when you’re out of the saddle.

-Your feet stay in constant position when clipped in. This means perfect alignment that will prevent your feet from pronating. Your hips will also thank you for it!

-Your pedal stroke is smooth as silk! Cycling shoes help lift your pedals on the upstroke which takes pressure off your quads and brings your hamstrings in the mix.

-No shoe laces to worry about! It can be terrifying getting a shoelace stuck in the flywheel if they’re not safely tucked in the toe cages. The Velcro straps that come with most cycling shoes ensure a secure fit.

-More controlled and powerful pedal stroke ensures an awesome workout every time. Once you get used to clipping in and out, you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you are, maximizing your time in class!

Once you try them out, you’ll most likely never go back to cycling in sneakers again!!

Click here to see Elevate’s indoor cycling class schedule and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get your first class free!

ABOUT TONYA: Tonya is a Group Ride and Indoor Cycling Instructor at both Elevate Fitness’s Dewitt and Liverpool locations.


Exercising to Survive (Life)

by Jason Jaquays-Tarbox

Exercising to Survive Life at Elevate Fitness

Recently, The Lancet Global Health Journal, a resource intended for the education of health professionals, published a study; Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1·9 million participants.

A key finding in this study, and certainly the finding that interests us most, is that 25% of adults do not get adequate exercise. With sedentary lifestyles being one of the leading contributing factors to non-communicable diseases, this study indicates that one out of every four adults is, knowingly or not, putting themselves at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, certain types of cancer and more according to John Hopkins Medicine.

The World Health Organization researchers involved in this study defined “adequate exercise” as 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

As you might expect, the study suggests that wealthier parts of the globe fall lower on the spectrum of activity than poorer nations, this suggests that the nature of sedentary jobs and advanced transportation options in those more economically prosperous nations simply requires less physical activity than their less-advantaged counterparts.

Mark Clary, a Program Director for Elevate Fitness in Liverpool, NY says that in his 30-plus years in the fitness industry he’s seen a significant shift in the factors that motivate someone to join a health club. “Twenty years ago it was a recreational activity that brought people into health clubs, today its survival. People are trying to get off of expensive medications or to increase their health because they know they’ll have to work later in life. It’s really about training for life instead of training for a sport or to lose weight. It’s about being fit to survive.”

Because of this shift, more people are looking to full service, multi-feature clubs as opposed to short-term programs and single-focus clubs. “Because people know they’re making a lifestyle change and not starting a short-term program, they’re looking for clubs with more amenities and more services – knowing that this will keep them interested, engaged and active longer than short-term solutions,” says Gil Stedman, GM Elevate Fitness, Liverpool.

Gil goes on to explain that what’s kept Elevate popular over the years (or at least the last year, and as Gold’s Gym before that, and Sundown before that) is that members can experience a number of different activities and, when they start to lose interest in one, they can find something else to keep them active and motivated without having to go through the hassle of finding their next source of activity.

Footage of Elevate Fitness Clubs (you can see Dewitt’s video here and Liverpool’s video here) shows a wide variety of options and offerings from within. From fitness machines to free weights, swimming pools to group fitness, tennis, and racquetball, personal training, spin classes, yoga, and Zumba  … well, you get the point.

With memberships starting as low as $19.95 per month, you really can’t afford NOT to get active and start getting meeting the weekly activity guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization. “It’s less than the cost of a daily cup of coffee, and what you’re getting in return is so much more. In larger cities like Boston or New York, people pay close to $200 a month for the amenities that we offer at Elevate. Most people don’t realize how much value you get from an Elevate Membership.”

He might just be right, Stedman says that incentive programs (Elevate offers a free perks and loyalty program that rewards its members for just showing up, in addition to a list of other activities, points are earned and then redeemed for merchandise, discounts, etc.) and technology (state-of-the-art heart rate monitoring programs and 3D body imaging and scanning technologies) make it possible for the staff at Elevate to create highly-effective, custom programs for its members, while keeping them motivated to achieve their goals.

Regardless of the many benefits, “the challenge lies,” Stedman states, “in educating the public to understand how important it is to meet the physical activity guidelines. Stedman and Clary are up for the challenge. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping people survive,” says Clary.

To see for yourself what Elevate Fitness is doing to make Central New York a healthier and happier community, try their no-obligation 7-Day VIP Membership by filling out the form below. Also, get a complimentary 3D Body Imaging Scan session by mentioning this article!




Get Up and Running with Elevate’s Walk to Run Program

You’ve probably heard of walk to run programs. You may even have seen them in the app store on your smartphone or heard about a co-worker or neighbor who used on to run their first race. When it comes to exercises that everyone can do, running immediately pops to mind for most people. Running is something most of us learn to do at a very young age, it requires almost no equipment (really, all you need are some sneakers) and you can do it almost everywhere. The appeal of running as a simple, go-to exercise is easy to understand.

But running is also a highly beneficial activity. From weight loss to disease prevention to increasing your heart health, the benefits are well documented and a quick Google search will provide you with hundreds, if not thousands, of unique benefits that running can provide you.

But let’s be honest – we did a lot of things effortlessly as kids that aren’t so effortless as adults. Not only that – our bodies were probably able to take a little more wear-and-tear when we were younger. That means that when we’re re-introducing running into our lives as adults, it’s important to learn the proper techniques and to use a training program that is both beneficial AND kind to our bodies.

Walk to run training programs abound. You can download apps like “Couch to 5K” to your smartphone for a couple of bucks and follow a simple plan that takes you from someone who only runs when being chased, to someone who runs happily.

The problem with these apps, or programs torn out of magazines, though, is that they lack customization. Maybe you ran in college but haven’t laced up in 20 years and you’re looking to get reacclimated. Maybe you’re ready to make a significant lifestyle change after a lifetime of being sedentary. Or maybe you’re just looking to lose a few pounds and prepare to run a 5K for a charity that’s near and dear to your heart.

Elevate Fitness in Dewitt and Liverpool, NY recently introduced their Walk to Run programs under the direction of former Y Running Coach, and now Elevate Fitness Director of Running, Kevin Collins. Collins has coached thousands of Central New Yorkers from elite athletes to seniors looking to reverse the ills of aging. What Kevin brings to the table that apps and articles can’t, is a personalized approach to coaching using years of science-backed training and research and personal experience.

Collins describes his Walk to Run program this way: “Walk to run is a 10-15 week program instructional program that bridges the gap between walker and runner by teaching core principles for progression and lifetime maintenance. When you finish the program you’ll be equipped to handle a daily 15 minute run without stopping – which is what we consider to be the baseline for all running progress!”

walk to run programs at Elevate Fitness

Walk to Run is a part of the Elevate Fitness Run Club. Some quick Run Club facts:

  • Networking within and between Elevate Fitness Dewitt and Liverpool participants with similar running abilities and goals.
  • Introduction to and maintenance of fundamental training concepts for lifetime optimal fitness and development.
  • Detailed training plans and logs for each seasonal program duration.
  • Free-floating access to over 14 running group sessions across CNY.
  • Direct guidance from a former World-class runner who has trained over 1,000 of all levels beginner to advanced throughout CNY – Kevin Collins – A 2:15 marathoner, was among the top five U.S. ranked Marathoners and Half-marathoners of 2003, a three-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and the 1st American finisher in the 1996 Boston Marathon.

If you’d like to learn more about how Collins can help get you “up and running” just fill out the short form below and he’ll reach out and tell you more about the Walk to Run and other Elevate Running programs!


Stay Fit After Fifty – a Guest Post by Diane Lowery

How did you imagine you’d be living your life after 40? After 50? What about after 60? Medical advances mean that our life expectancy is longer than ever before, and when coupled with a healthy lifestyle, that means the average age of the folks getting their fitness on in the gym is increasing. And that’s great news! But how do we make sure we can stay involved and keep fit after fifty?

Enjoy this guest post by Elevate Group Fitness Instructor Diane Lowery. Then, at the end of the post, click the link to try your first class with Diane for FREE!

Do you remember disco balls?  How about mood rings, leisure suits, and P.O.W. bracelets?  Did you actually WATCH the first man walk on the moon?….in REAL time?  Did you spend Saturday night watching Carol Burnett and The Mary Tyler Moore Show?  How about Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights?    Well, my friend, if you can say yes to any of these memories, you are probably a baby boomer who is feeling the realities of an aging body.

Who would have thought the generations of kids who believed they would never grow old, actually….got old?  Heck, we originated the idea of being young forever!  I still secretively think I am in my 20’s until I look in the mirror or try jumping out of the car after a long trip…OUCH!!  Why won’t these legs move like they used to?

Yes, “age is only a number” but that number can bring big changes when it comes to working out.  I have been moving my body either playing sports (through high school, college, and adult leagues) or teaching fitness classes my entire life.  This has been great fun and I have loved moving my body through the decades, but no one told me the price I would pay.  The joints  I depended on to help me jump, run, twist and turn would eventually turn on ME, leaving me with pain and stiffness.

How do we aging athletes and baby boomers gracefully enter this new stage of fitness? I have thought about this a lot and have experienced a variety of challenges and obstacles first hand. Fortunately, I have finally come to a happier place.  I hope to continue moving my body, exercising, working out, and challenging myself for many years to come, but I have also found a need for caution and kindness.

I feel my body has served me well and now needs me to give it a little love. I have found that being kind to my changing body by changing my workout style has brought me to a much more peaceful place.  No longer do I feel compelled to compete with the others around me to jump higher, move faster and work out better or longer.  I no longer need to do the newest fitness fad.  I don’t need to run a marathon or compete for the top spot on the fitness scorecard.  I have had my run, so to speak.  My body has served me well.  I will choose to drop my risers OUT of my Step to save the remaining cartilage in my joints.  I will feel free NOT pushing myself to take three classes in a row just to get ALL of my physical components met in one day.  There is always tomorrow!  I will not feel shame when taking a bit more time getting up from the floor to move on to another exercise.  I will decrease my weights on my bar when my legs or arms are feeling a little tired or my joints have had too much fun dancing or stepping in Groove or Blast class the day before.  I am content with a little more cushion around my middle knowing my muscles are probably stronger than many of the millennials pushing weights on the floor or in the cage.

Yes, I have “come a long way baby” (sorry, Virginia Slims of the 70s) from my younger, athletic self.  I feel stronger and more fit today than I ever did when I was younger.  I have time to work out every day if I choose.  I no longer have to rush a workout to get home to kids.  I don’t need to squeeze a frenzied workout in after an exhausting day at work.  I can go to the gym to connect with friends and get a great workout while having fun.  I like that aging has made me less serious, more relaxed, kinder to my body and much stronger…. inside and out!!


Get your first class FREE with Diane or any of our amazing Group Fitness Instructors at Elevate Fitness! And read Marketing Director Jason Jaquays-Tarbox’s take on the evolution of Group Fitness classes here!


The Great Balancing Act (Or, How to Do it All)

The Great Balancing Act (Or, How to Do it All)

A Guest Post by Lisa Dolbear

I’m often asked how I manage to do “all the things.” In no particular order, I’m constantly juggling expectations and needs across the following areas:

  • My professional career as a strategist in an advertising agency
  • My freelance career as a fitness and lifestyle writer
  • My ability to deliver effective (and fresh) fitness classes in spinning, weight-training and kickboxing six times a week
  • My responsibilities as a mom (to my two pre-K children)
  • My desire to remain “exciting” as a wife (date nights, new recipes, etc.)
  • My hard-wired need to have a clean and orderly house

Yeah, it’s a lot — but it’s not impossible. The secret? Passion. Across the board, I am mentally engaged in everything I do in a meaningful way. I rarely “go through the motions.” Being passionate is about letting the motions go through YOU — it’s about finding ways to let your responsibilities empower and uplift you, rather than hinder you and hold you down. Think of the word passion as “a strong emotional investment.”

When something inspires a strong emotional investment, we tend to make time for that thing. Finding a half an hour to go for a run is easier than finding a half an hour to clean the refrigerator. Why? Because subconsciously you know that the run is going to fuel your body and mind for anything else that happens during the day. You know that you’re putting in 30 minutes to get 12 hours of feel-good back. Without realizing it, you’ve conditioned yourself to make running a part of “your balance,” whereas cleaning out the refrigerator just feels like a chunk of time you’re throwing away.

Many people think about balance in terms of time — if something can’t fit within the day, then it doesn’t get done. Yes, there’s a scheduling component to successfully doing many things, but the bigger key to balance is recognizing how each engagement you take on can nourish you and give you the ability to thrive across multiple areas. Over time, as you become more careful about what you choose to balance in your life, you’ll realize that if you’re making the right choices everything in your life starts to interconnect and act as a synergy.

As a fitness instructor, I work hard on memorizing choreography, cueing movements at the right time during a workout, and finding a motivating way to deliver the whole experience seamlessly. I’m getting a workout in for my body and my brain — this in turn makes me a better strategist when I work with clients in advertising. My brain is trained to see patterns, group things together or separate them apart and find meaning in that. In this way, I see my work as a fitness instructor as a supporting tool for my work as a strategist and vice versa. It’s a natural progression for me to write about fitness — I’m pulling from a long background as an athlete, a coach and an instructor, and using skill sets from advertising to share that background (developing insights, creatively expressing ideas, etc.). All of this helps me to have a healthy regard for my body and mind, which in turn makes me a better mom and wife.

Finding balance doesn’t happen overnight, but there are a few things you can start doing today to get better at “doing it all,” especially when it comes to incorporating fitness into your lifestyle.

  1. What does your workout do for you? What are you getting out of it? Focus on the things that are more mental and spiritual. How do those things tie into other areas of your life? When you start to see the workout as more than a block of time, you’ll be more inclined to “fit it in.”
  2. Be flexible — If you normally take a 60-min kickboxing class but you only have 20 minutes for a workout today, find something you can do in the shorter time period that might enhance your next workout. Crank out 20 minutes of lunges or jump knees to your favorite music. Try a completely different workout, or get creative in your immediate environment (run stairs, do box jumps on a park bench, etc.).
  3. Be unapologetic about your time. I schedule workouts like meetings. They’re woven into my day and they are firm appointments I must see to, unless an emergency comes up. There are few things that override the designated workout time — it’s a priority like brushing your teeth, or getting an appointment to see a medical specialist. You must treat your “fitness” time as something that is required to your being. — and you must not apologize for that.
  4. Identify at least three ways your workout makes you better at another area in your life. Be specific. It could something as simple as “when I go for a run, it clears my head to make better decisions at work.” The goal is to tie your success in the gym to the wider world around you.

And one last word — balance is something you’ll ever nail: it’s a game that changes daily. Life is unpredictable and circumstances change. Balance only works if you can build it from the inside (your attitude, your perceptions, etc.). Once that’s intact, it doesn’t matter what happens on the outside because you’ll the tools to adapt.


Get a customized program for your busy lifestyle by taking advantage of a complimentary personal training session at Elevate Fitness. Valid for first-time training clients, local to the Syracuse area aged 18 and over only. Other restrictions my apply.


Advice from a Trainer by Andrew Shoen

About 6 years ago, I moved back to Syracuse. I had been through a teaching career and relationships that didn’t work out as planned and realized I was nearly starting over at 30. I figured it was just as good a time as any to attempt to do something I always wanted to do, and something I felt passionately about. Fitness had changed my life in such positive ways, and I wanted to do the same for others by becoming a personal trainer here at Elevate Fitness.

Getting involved in fitness can be an altogether life-changing experience. If I could offer something to live by, I would tell people to “be their best” both in fitness and in life and to find (and allow themselves to experience) happiness, whatever that may be for them.

I find there’s a great correlation between what we accomplish in the gym to its application in daily life. When people achieve great things in our workouts, they then are able to tackle the world (jobs, relationship, etc) with a newfound confidence.

If I had any advice to give to those not involved in a lifestyle of fitness and health, it would be this: We are given this one body, and oftentimes don’t take care of it. Why is that?

People take better care of their cars and lawns than the very vessel in which they reside. You don’t have to settle for getting by every day. Do things that make you feel great. Make your body a priority, the biggest one, and you will develop the health and drive and longevity to do all other things you want to do. I’m not talking about looks or six-pack abs; I’m talking about training and developing your body to be strong, conditioned, mobile, flexible, balanced, and pain-free. When that is the prime focus, your health will greatly improve, and you will be able to do the things you wish to do. The aesthetics will come along as they will as you reach whatever genetic potential your particular body possesses.

  • Written by certified Personal Trainer, Andrew Shoen.

Want to meet with a personal trainer at Elevate Fitness to assess your fitness goals and set up a program that works f0r you and your lifestyle?  Just fill out the short form below, some restrictions apply.


Success Tips from Certified Fitness Instructor, Darcy DiBiase

FITNESS SUCCESS TIPS from Certified Fitness Instructor, Darcy DiBiase

It happens to the best of us. You walk in, you sign up, you carry the key tag, but you never really find your gym groove. Sometimes the hardest part of getting started is just… getting started.

Have you seen Elevate Fitness? If you’re not a regular #gymshark it can be overwhelming. So what’s the best way to get started? I have an idea.

Pick a timeslot. Add it to your calendar: pretty paper or the latest tech with alerts to your watch, the idea is the same. Commit. Repeat. Give it two weeks. That’s how long experts say it takes *on average* to develop a new habit. (But we know you’re not average. You’re amazing!)

Maybe after two weeks you find that 5:30 pm is just not working for you, your dog, your boss, your hair, whatever. We get it. No hard feelings. Pick a new time slot and try again.

What about 5:30 am? Hey, at least no one is judging your hair. Seriously. When you pinky promise to a time slot at Elevate Fitness, you aren’t obligated to a sentence of “dreadmills” and gym bro’s. For every weekday time slot that fits perfectly into your life, there’s a ton of variety for what you can do when you report for duty. The more of those options you try, the less of a chore it becomes, the more fun you have and the more you want to try again.

Consider that early morning appointment… Monday-Friday you get 5 days of different group fitness options including

… all with certified instructors dedicated to your success. Maybe you like a smaller group vibe– check out team in training in the cage. You get your own personal trainer with a fresh WOD, at a fraction of the cost. Need a little less impact? Hop in the pool.

If you’re feeling a little intimidated by all that equipment on the floor, connect with a personal trainer. If you don’t, get out there: lift heavy and get after that cardio on one of a dozen different machines. Like hanging out between reps? Get hooked up with TRX.

Stretch it all out before you hit the showers and you can be on the road by 7:30 AM, even if you have to do your hair. Not a bad way to kick off another amazing day.

Yes, those first two weeks of building a new habit might be a challenge, but stick with it. Get out of your comfort zone and into your results zone. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon.

Not a member of Elevate yet? Try us for FREE!


Workouts and Drinking Alcohol

How drinking alcohol after your workout can compromise your GAINS…

By David Cruz C.P.T.

Relaxing, and drinking seem to go so well together; whether you enjoy wrapping up a busy work week with a few drinks at the pub or drinking a couple of beers off the court after playing basketball with your friends, the two just seem to belong together on such occasions. Now, for some of you there’s probably not much I can say to break this tradition up, nor do I think that having a couple of drinks with your friends is the end of the world, but if it’s a pattern you keep revisiting and alcohol is your go-to post-workout drink, you may want to rethink your strategy because there might be some serious gains you’ve been denying yourself.

Alcohol and Recovery: The Research

I recently came across some research that tested the effects of booze on rugby players to see what kind of effects it would have on recovery, as well as physical and cognitive performance. To test this out, the researchers had the players down the equivalent of about 7 shots of vodka in orange juice after a game (seriously, where do you sign up for research like this?) vs. a placebo group (I think I’d be very aware of it being a placebo after 7 drinks, but anyway…). As you can imagine, the results were not too good. Now, it’s pretty obvious that 7 drinks will likely leave you feeling like crap the next day, but what’s interesting in this research is to see what happens on a muscle recovery level and why that is.

We already know that after a workout your body craves an anabolic state to take advantage of the rest and nutrients you feed it so that it can grow bigger and stronger than it was before. We also know that this anabolic state is a fragile balancing act and that just a few things here and there can make it tip on the wrong side and seriously compromise your gains.

Within this anabolic state, there are two things that happen on a hormonal level that are extremely important: your testosterone-to-cortisol ratio, and your testosterone-to-estrogen ratio. This is where booze hurts on pretty much every level. Even just a few drinks is enough to throw this balance off by raising both cortisol and estrogen, which in turn hinders the possibility for gains because your anabolic potential went down the drain.

‘Man Boobs’ and a Decrease in Strength?

Other research has shown that even 2-3 drinks can boost cortisol and warp you out of that favorable hormonal state; this is far from ideal if you want to recover from a workout and grow. And if you do this over and over again, the hormonal shift will be more and more apparent and you may end up shopping at Victoria’s Secret to find support for your glorious, newly found man boobs. To prevent that from happening, you want to keep these ratios favoring testosterone—moderating your alcohol intake is a good place to start.

Furthermore, not only can alcohol prevent you from recovering from the workout you just did, it will also compromise your next workout(s). Alcohol can cause a decrease in strength and cognitive performance that can last several days, due in part to its diuretic effect. So it’s easy to screw up a week’s worth of training with one night of boozing. In fact, certain studies have shown that a 1-3% drop in water can cause 10-20% decrease in strength.

That means that if you’re 5 lbs lighter on Monday morning than you were on Friday because of alcohol-related dehydration, your max bench of 225 could be down to under 200. This is something I’ve seen in a lot of college sports, where guys go out drinking on the weekend, and spend the rest of the week catching up.  Practices and training sessions end up being cruise-control sessions as they just try to survive instead of profiting from them to acquire new skills and get stronger and better at their game.

This applies to you as much as it does to any athlete getting paid to perform; if you want to maximize your results, you can’t let the effects of alcohol cast a cloud on your training all week long, even if it’s from just one drinking session.
My Advice On Drinking

That being said, you should be able to live your life and have fun, so having a few glasses of wine, or even the occasional night getting out of hand is fine, but keep an eye out on the big picture to stay on top of your training and your results. If you do decide to have a few drinks, try to keep it under three and make sure to stay hydrated throughout the night.

In the end it does come down to personal choice, but I know that most of you are serious about your health and your bodies and don’t want to waste any time; that’s why looking at how your alcohol intake affects your training is something I think you should do. I’m not saying you have to quit drinking completely if you like to enjoy the occasional beer, but looking at the big picture here can allow you to find out strategically on what days you can allow yourself a drink or two, and on what days you shouldn’t. Here again, careful planning could open the door to success.

Stay Strong,
David Cruz C.P.T.

P.S. Apart from all this talk about alcohol, do you have your nutrition and strength training plan dialed in for maximum results?  If not,  reach out to me David Cruz at (315)-446-0376 and my team and I will get you there. Our team of certified professional share my love and passion for health and fitness and are eager to help.

Want more advice? Take advantage of Elevate Fitness’s complimentary personal training session for first-time clients aged 18 and over who are local to the Syracuse area. Some restrictions may apply.


5 Ways to Beat the Bloat on Thanksgiving & Lose Weight


5 Ways to Beat the Bloat on Thanksgiving & Lose Weight

Are you average? If you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t want to be average this holiday season.

If you consider yourself average, you might want to be concerned about your Thanksgiving holiday this year. Did you know that the average American can consume more than 4,500 calories and a staggering 229 grams of fat by the time the dishes are put away on Thanksgiving? This startling statistic comes from research conducted by the Calorie Control Council.

In many cases, this is well over 200% of the recommended daily caloric intake for adults. But don’t panic! Put down that drumstick and read along a little further and we can make sure that you’re not toddling through the aisles come Black Friday.

  1. Be Present
  2. Be Aware
  3. Keep Track
  4. Be Grateful
  5. Reward Yourself


It’s easy to be distracted at the holidays.  There are tasks to do, recipes to follow and parades on the television. All this while you’re catching up with friends and family that you don’t always  get to see on the regular. It’s easy to gain weight when you’re distracted – but we want to lose weight!

It’s important that you’re present though and avoid mindless eating if you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re gorging on cheese and crackers while waiting for the main course while discussing politics (which we recommend avoiding) with your cousin – you may not even realize just how much you’re eating, and worse – you’re probably not focused on the food and enjoying it to its fullest potential!

Stay present. Be mindful. Know what you’re putting in your mouth and why. (Hint – why should be because you mean to and want to. Not because you’re distracted or bored.)


It’s amazing how quick we are as a species to eat something we don’t fully understand. Most of us consume ingredients that we can’t pronounce on a daily basis. Take this food-centric holiday to learn more about what you’re consuming. At the very least, have an idea of how many calories you’re throwing back. Here are some common Thanksgiving foods and ball-park figures for calories:

Mashed Potatoes (with Whole Milk and Butter): 237 calories per 1 cup

Green Bean Casserole: 230 calories per 1 cup

Candied Yams: 206 calories per 1 cup Cranberry Sauce Canned: 420 calories per 1 cup

Stuffing: 350 calories per 1 cup

Biscuit: 150 calories per biscuit with 36 calories per 1 pat of butter

Turkey (3.5 ounces turkey) Dark meat with skin: 232 calories

Turkey Gravy: 100 calories per 1 cup

Brussels Sprouts: 38 calories per 1 cup

Corn: 132 calories per ear; with butter: 36 Calories per 1 pat of butter

Spinach: 41 calories per 1 cup

Beer (Regular): Average 150 calories per bottle

Generic Old Fashioned Cocktail: 155 calories per glass

Reds (Burgundy): 127 calories per glass

Pecan Pie: 503 calories per 1 slice (1/8 divided pie)

Vanilla Ice Cream Scoop: 125 calories per 1/2 cup

Whipped Cream:15 calories per 2 tablespoons

Champagne: 78 calories per glass

Cranberry Sauce Fresh: 408 calories per 1 cup

Candied Yams: 206 calories per 1 cup

Stuffing: 350 calories per 1 cup

Biscuit: 150 calories per biscuit

Turkey Serving Size: 3.5 ounces turkey Breast without skin: 161 calories

Turkey Gravy: 100 calories per 1 cup

Pumpkin Pie: 323 calories per 1 slice (1/8 divided pie)

Spinach: 41 calories per 1 cup

Brussels Sprouts: 38 calories per 1 cup

And since you’re aware of how many calories you’re consuming, check out this Sparkpeople article that shares 50 ways to burn 100 calories. Know what it will take to undo that cranberry sauce.

While you’re increasing your awareness, check out our blog post, Weight Loss 101: Getting Started.


The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. And for many of us, they are the busiest. We recommend tracking your calories so that you can make informed, intelligent decisions. This is easier to do than ever know that 68% of adult Americans have a smartphone. There are a ton of great calorie tracking apps that are totally free that can help you out. Sparkpeople is one, Calorie King is another. A fan favorite is MyFitnessPal, which allows you to track calories in AND calories out, ensuring you manage a daily caloric deficit – essential if your goal is to  lose weight.

Tracking calories in is easy – log what goes into your mouth. Calories out is a bit trickier. Some fitness wearables like the Apple Watch or some FitBits will give you good numbers. For the best accuracy though, we recommend a heart-rate monitor like MyZone.


Thanksgiving is really about gratitude. Some of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by an abundance of food, which really is something to be grateful for. But remember that’s not everybody’s reality this holiday season. Show your gratitude by wrapping a plate for an elderly neighbor or bringing turkey sandwiches to the homeless. Volunteer in a soup kitchen (less time to eat, more time on your feet). Do something, anything, to express your gratitude. Your health and your waistline will benefit.


Start thinking about the easy or habitual ways you reward yourself and make sure you’re rewarding yourself with things that make sense with regard to your goals. We think that rewarding yourself with activity is the best reward of all. Take a yoga class, go for a swim or even soak in a relaxing hot tub. All these rewards will not only make you feel good while you’re doing them, but long after unlike that chocolate reward you’ve been using for so long. After all, if you lose weight, isn’t that the reward you were aiming for all along?

We want to make rewarding yourself easy, so fill out the form below to get a week of unlimited access to all our facilities at Elevate Fitness including group fitness classes, pool, hot tub, sauna (Dewitt location only), tennis, kids club and more!

Trainer Profile: Why I Change Lives

by David Cruz, Personal Trainer and Life-Changer

My name is David Cruz. I am a personal trainer, group instructor, strength and conditioning coach & corrective exercise specialist at Elevate Fitness Club in Dewitt, NY.  I’ve been part of the fitness industry for almost 13 years now and it’s my absolute passion to be a part of people’s lives and journeys as well as taking charge of their health and fitness goals.

One of my strengths is working with individuals and helping to create change from the inside out. I do this under the umbrella of health and fitness but has to be a lot deeper than that for us to reach the goals that we have set before us.

So what brought me to Syracuse New York..? To tell you that story, I’d first have to tell you the story of my very first client. The person who I consider my very first client is one of the strongest, most stubborn, beautiful, unbelievably dedicated individuals I’ve been blessed to work with. Her name was Carmen.

Carmen was born in Puerto Rico where she was raised by her aunt Chére. She bounced back-and-forth to New York City (Spanish Harlem) to visit her dad who had moved from Puerto Rico for work. She grew up on what I considered a normal Puerto Rican diet which consist of rice, beans, chicken, some vegetables and so on. If you’ve ever eaten in a Puerto Ricans’ home or have been to Puerto Rico, you know what I’m talking about: a standardized carb, grease filled diet, high in sodium most of the time, not what would be considered healthy.

On top of that she had a body type that was very similar to mine. Endomorphs tend to be bigger, are often pear-shaped, and have a high tendency to store body fat. So between the genes that she was dealt and a poor diet, Carmen was always on the heavier side (as was I) growing up. Fast forward into her teenage years, she picked up smoking cigarettes along the lifestyle that comes with being a teenager. You can just imagine that as she got older, things got worse. She attended Columbia University in NYC for business before moving back to Puerto Rico, getting married and having kids – 4 boys to be exact.

Sadly, things with her husband did not work out. She ended up leaving him and moving back to NYC, to the Bronx to be exact. So was now a single mother raising 3 boys full of energy and testosterone, you can imagine that stress levels would have been high. Around this time in her life she had packed on a few more pounds due to stress and lifestyle and before anybody knew it, she found herself getting sicker and sicker as time went on. At first no one ever thought anything of it. She became incredibly fatigued and was in a lot of pain in her lower back, neck, shoulders and fingers.

With that came a more sedentary lifestyle and she ended up on bed rest for a good majority of the time which also led to more weight gain. Before we knew it she was close to the 300 pounds. Because it happened little by little no one really noticed it until she starting experiencing a hard time breathing and sleeping. She was developing sleep apnea along with diabetes.

To her, and everyone around her, it seemed like it was just a weight issue. Lose the weight, get the energy back and solve the weight problem right? Wrong!

In order for her to get up in be active, she would’ve needed more energy than she could muster at this stage in her life. It got to the point where it hurt for her to even get up and use the bathroom. No one had any clue what was going on. At first it seemed like it was a motivational issue. We even considered that she was being lazy at times, not even imagining that there could be a bigger issue lying underneath it all.

OK, let’s fast-forward a little bit. At this time in her life, she was still a single mother, taking care of her three boys (before the fourth one came along), and living in the Bronx. Her three boys starting to run wild and out of control with no positive male role model in sight. They began adapting to their not-so positive environment. Carmen was not going to let the streets of NYC raise her children, so she decided to pack up, move away and start a new life for her family. A friend always told her about a beautiful state where she’d vacation: Maine. Her friend convinced Carmen to visit Maine for a short vacation and she fell in love. The lifestyle was something that she felt would only benefit her, but her boys as well, getting them off the streets. So she packed up her family, moved to Maine and began anew.

I wish that at this point I could tell you that they lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Carmen moving out of state did not solve her health issues and on top of that her boys were now full-blown teenagers with a NYC mentality living in the suburbs and running wild. You can imagine how, on top of her health issues the struggles of a being a single parent to teenaged boys was adding to her stress, making her sicker. There were countless visits to countless doctors, trying to see what was the underlying issue causing the weight issue. The doctors didn’t clarify much – at first they told her it was a thyroid issue, then changed their minds, finally deciding that Carmen was ” just too overweight”, and that losing the weight would make her well again.

Little by little, Carmen started chipping away at it: being more active by going for small walks, moving around more and tackling her day-to-day activities. She always complained of being extremely exhausted and  felt that she was barely walking as much as she used to (and was in excruciating pain throughout her body). When she began to be more active, she felt like she was in more pain, she expressed this to her doctors and they gave her pain medication and bed rest. She always had a funny feeling that they never really knew what was going on. They just saw an overweight woman and didn’t look any closer.

Slowly but surely, she began to develop a hole-like ulcer in her left leg. It was really weird, I don’t remember exactly when we first noticed it, it started off looking like a rash and it spread like wildfire, from the size of a dime to the size of a half dollar and eventually becoming a half-inch thick full-blown “deep hole” that became terribly infected.

Carmen took this to the doctors and they gave her antibiotics more and more and more pain medication and told her to wrap it. So 90% of the time her infection was wrapped with some sort of ointment,which in my opinion only made it worse. They blamed the lack of healing on her diabetes, and while all of this was going, all of the attention was on her leg and the fear of amputation if the infection continued to spread – her weight continued to rise. In the midst of all the confusion and the worry about her leg, she went for a normal physical and was informed that her weight had climbed to almost 500 pounds.

At that massive weight along with sleep apnea and all her other physical conditions, she had no choice but to get a tracheotomy. This was an incredibly difficult time. No one around us ever had anything like that – we just didn’t see how that would help, and in fact, it seemed like it was getting worse. (I can see now that tracheotomy because of her massive weight actually saved her life in a way and allowed her to continue to fight.)

Now with a new issue in her throat, her leg being out of commission and adding a respirator to the mix which did her breathing for her at night, it seemed like Carmen was ready to throw in the towel. But I’m here to tell you that she was not about to quit… She continued to get up every morning and simply sit up and do something; whether it was to kick her legs, stretch her arms or just move anyway she could. By this time she was living in a one bedroom apartment where her kids frequently visited, helping out with meals and anything they could.

Around this time I was graduating Personal Training School in Boston and going into the fitness field professionally so naturally I took her on as my first official client. Although I knew Carmen, in order for me to work with her on a professional level I had to literally separate our relationship in two parts, so when I was working with her as her Trainer, I was just that! It’s all serious, I am in charge of her fitness, her health, her nutrition and anything that comes along with that and any other relationship that we have had take the back burner. I was fresh out of school, I was hungry and my energy was contagious. Finally I got her excited and she just listened to everything that I had to say. She really practiced every advice that I gave her and she was ready to move forward. Although we had many obstacles, we were ready to move on and conquer this and get her life back on track. Instead of visiting her sporadically, I ended up setting up a specific appointments for when I would visit her to work out! This plan seemed to work perfectly..

Slowly but surely the weight began coming off, and more importantly she just seemed more alive and more vibrant. She was moving more and being involved in all aspects of life, the way it should be. Unfortunately while all this is going on she was still wheelchair-bound because her leg the infection continue to get worse we didn’t know what it was (no one did – not even the doctors).

We got a call one day where they had the miracle fix it was called Maggot Therapy where they would insert maggots in her wound (leg) and monitor her and the maggots were supposed to eat the infection. She agreed. We all did. This seemed very effective at first- like everything did, but although the infection on top of her leg was being eaten, underneath it didn’t seem to be getting any better. The hole was not shrinking and the excruciating pain continued, even with all the pain med. But we continued with our plan, we continued to workout and she continued to chip away at her weight. Some days were better than others. Sometimes her energy decreased and was extremely low so we did only what we could. After that first year it seemed like Carmen just couldn’t muster any energy, and no one really knew what it was. We were on a good streak: her weight was coming down, she was more alive and present but although her energy didn’t completely fizzle out, it definitely slowed down. I noticed this and I just didn’t know what to do.*

All of the sudden, a miracle (disguised as disaster) struck! A pipe burst in her building and because she was on the first floor, it ended up flooding her apartment and she was forced to move out for a few weeks. She was given the option of a hotel, but I spoke to my fiancé Dessa and immediately jumped on the opportunity to bring her home with me where I would have 24 hour complete care of her. Now mind you, at this time I was working as a personal trainer and group instructor at a big box fitness facility, so my idea was that I could take care of her before work, go to work and then come home and care for her – not just make attempts to go and catch her at the perfect time. I would be in complete control of her lifestyle. I just wanted to be more involved. I didn’t know what the issue was I believe that if you move, break a sweat and have a vision, you will see real results! It really is that simple… for me. I was very naïve to think that it’s that easy for everyone.

Fast forward to … she moves in, and we start on her fitness and health journey full-time. My vision was to treat it like the show the biggest loser but at a more appropriate level. I was well aware that this was not Hollywood, we were not on TV and I was not dealing with somebody for whom it would be appropriate to be as extreme as what you see on TV, but that does not mean that we took it easy. We started with bodyweight movements in her wheelchair and from there we graduated to working with household items like cans of beans, gallons of milk and things that had any type of weight to them, along with resistance bands.

We’d start each morning together, before the sun rose, with a health, plant-based breakfast. Finally, the weight started to drop at a rapid pace. Carmen’s energy levels went through the roof and she was happy everything was going so well. When I tell you the weight was coming off fast, I mean it was coming off fast and we weren’t working out 24 hours a day, we just dedicated one hour of physical activity but because she felt so good after our workout, she would go about her day being more active and more positive.

A big win for us was when a home-care nurse came to the house to re-dress her wound and noticed her transformation. The nurse couldn’t get over how great Carmen looked and how vibrant her skin looked (that was one of the comments that we got most) in such a short period of time!

All of that attention lead to more motivation which meant more dedication and the weight continued to melt off. Eventually, word reached the local news stations. We were contacted by Tracy Sable, a news anchor for channel 5 local Portland news. They knew that I was a trainer at a local gym and wanted to do a piece “separated from this” on athletic training which I was involved in at the time.

They also wanted to know if Carmen would be interested in sharing her story for a future weight loss segment. I spoke to her about it and the answer was an enthusiastic YES!

Carmen was excited about sharing her story in the hopes that if there were others out there going through something similar they’d see they weren’t alone. They’d see that you can fight, you can move forward and you can stay in the game. She wanted to make that clear. So she did it, we did it, and it was a huge success – and a good motivation to continue to move forward. The story aired and so many people came forward showing their support and love. I hadn’t seen Carmen that alive and excited in a very, very long time.

Although progress naturally slowed a bit, we stayed consistent with the workouts and we literally worked off half her weight – we were almost to the 250 pound mark!

Everyone was so excited we couldn’t wait for her next physical (which was coming up) to do an actual weigh-in at the doctor’s office. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We were so happy everything was perfect she was up and dressed, I was at work and I came home early and took the rest of the day off to accompany her to her doctor’s appointment. I couldn’t wait to see the doctor’s faces. Doctor visits before had been completely hopeless, but not this time… I wanted them to know that “it ain’t over, till it’s over!” I know Carmen felt the same way. So we go in, she gets on the scale and … Boom! Target hit, we’re in the 250lbs club!

Everything was going as planned, she is a rock star in there … no, not a rockstar – a miracle, an ambassador of hope! Through all the smiles and all the celebrations before the doctors visit was over they drew some blood to make sure that everything was going well. They took some blood, and off we went. For the rest of that week everything went back to normal until few days later when Carmen got a phone call.

I was at work, but when I got home she said that they got the blood work back and that the doctor wanted to speak with her face-to-face. We were both confused, but because of all the stuff that she’s been through, it didn’t seem all that strange -so we didn’t give it much thought and just continued to stay positive.

They wanted some more tests, more visits and then they dropped the bomb. Carmen was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. They said that because of her massive weight they were unable to detect it before, but because she lost all the weight, they were able to go in and do more thorough testing leading to the diagnosis.

They felt that radiation therapy would be best, everyone seemed very optimistic. I didn’t see fear in her face so I tried to hold back my own fear for her sake. The doctor expressed that cervical cancer is usually something that in most cases can be controlled or taken care of but because she had been overweight for so long they assumed that she may have had it for as long as 10 years. To me that sounded crazy – how can something so serious go undetected for so long? I didn’t get it but I also couldn’t be the one breaking down … if she was strong enough to take this then I had to be strong enough to stand behind her and continue to fight.

When we got back home nothing really changed. It was almost like just a normal day at the doctors. She still wanted to continue her workout routines. She still wanted to keep things the way they were and continue fighting, moving forward with her weight loss even though the fight had become so much more serious.

After countless radiation treatments and doctor’s appointments, the cancer wasn’t letting up, and it had begun spreading as Carmen grew weaker and weaker. I remember at one point the doctor gave her six months to live. I found this out after the fact, because she never said anything. She kept everything from that point a secret even the fact that she had given special orders to her doctors indicating she did not want to be revived in the event that it came to that.

As her son, I now understand why she did that, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a bit angry after the nurses told me everything she really knew about her condition and her remaining time here with us at her funeral.

Carmen Maria Diaz was my mother…

My mother passed away March 3rd 2015 at 5:03 am even though her death certificate and other hospital papers say 5:15 am.

I was there … I held her hand and watched her stomach go up and down until it finally stopped moving. My brothers were all sleeping around me at her side, but I was up … I saw it, I held her hand and it suddenly got very cold. I didn’t want to make any noise and wake anybody up, I didn’t know what to do – I just sat there, broken.

I would like to tell you that it was some positive and beautiful moment, but it wasn’t. I felt like we’d lost and that I’d failed her. All this fitness, strong, healthy eating and all this fancy mumbo-jumbo failed. I was angry and I was lost and a part of me died in the bed with her. After five minutes had passed, I nudged my older brother Luis awake, we didn’t say a word to each other, he just looked at me and looked at mom and cried. By now my little brothers, Juan and Tiger, heard us, woke up and joined us. It’s crazy we didn’t even call the nurse we just sat there while the machine made this long beep and showed a flatline…

I can still hear that respirator machine beeping in my head as I type this. The beeping meant “No oxygen” I don’t really remember what happened after that, I know that one of the nurses came in to do her routine check and saw us and immediately sprang to action and followed protocol. I know that at this time we sat back at our chairs until we were eventually escorted out of the room. To be honest with you everything from that moment until the actual funeral was a blur. I couldn’t tell you what happened in those days if I wanted to – or maybe it’s just in the back of my mind and I just don’t want to.

We went to the funeral, that I won’t ever forget. I don’t know why but for me being at my home was the worst – so after about a week, I went back to work and just tried to pretend like everything was normal, hoping that eventually it would be. I tried to avoid people who knew me personally and only did group classes where I wouldn’t have to speak to anybody individually, because the truth of the matter is that people care and love me, I’m very personal and passionate with my coaching and everything I do, and I think that comes across in my training. I remember completely trying to avoid everyone who just wanted to give me their condolences, express their love and sympathy. I just wasn’t ready for that – I just wanted to be left alone.

I came to quickly find out that wanting to be left alone and being a personal trainer and group instructor is almost impossible. You can’t do both so I chose to continue training and running my classes and slowly continued moving forward. My biggest obstacle was to try not to cry in public, emphasis on “try” … Although things never really got easier, I continued to push through and kept moving forward. But at that time I wasn’t myself. I’d lost more than my mother and I didn’t know what it was. I kind of still don’t. I thought it may have been that I lost the true belief in health and fitness or maybe the love for motivating and inspiring others. I don’t know – I know that they were many nights that I thought, I’m just leaving the industry and doing something else. The crazy part about that was that those thoughts were only sporadic. I love what I do, I never stopped working.

I second guess if I wanted to continue to workout or train others, but as soon as I came home from the hospital after my mom passed, the next day, I got up and did a INSANITY workout. Fitness is my happy pill, fitness and working out is my go to place. I am not saying that I always enjoy it, but I never regret doing it and I know I’ll always feel better after my workout.

So all this brings me to getting a phone call. My beautiful fiancé, and the mother of my 3 kids, Dessa White is originally from Syracuse New York. She was born here and partially raised here before moving to Maine where we met and fell in love.

We have three beautiful children together: my oldest Daviel is 12 years old, my second one is DABRIEL (Cheeto) 9yrs old, and the princess of the house, my youngest is Anjaliah (Anja) 4yrs old.

In July 2016, we got a phone call that an apartment was available in her old neighborhood Springfield Gardens. Her father William V. White (Papa) had also recently passed. He was the superintendent in this neighborhood for 32 years so this whole neighborhood was extremely important to Dessa and our family. After the passing of my mom and wanting to be closer to family here in Syracuse because of Papa’s passing we thought that it would be a wise decision for us to move and change scenery.

The decision was made almost immediately. I was on the fence about it at first because I didn’t want to leave my work at they gym where I had been for 9 years where I was established and starting again from the beginning  was hard to fathom. But we definitely needed to get away, so we packed our bags and came to Syracuse in hopes of a new beginning.

I’m blessed to tell you that I started to put in my resume in a few different gyms and my first choice was also the first gym that called me back which was a blessing. It was Gold’s Gym (Dewitt) now known as ELEVATE Fitness. I’d visited a few other local gyms down in Liverpool and although really nice, my first choice was to be at Gold’s Gym (Elevate) which is by far the best decision that I made.

It didn’t take long before the Gold’s Gym (Elevate) family welcomed me in and showed me love, although until this comes out nobody really knows the details of why I move down here until now. They have shown me complete unconditional love and I am internally grateful for this. I got my clients and started teaching again and although everyday is a bit different, some days I think about mom, sometimes I see people at the gym that remind me of her or her condition and there is so much I want to say to them to encourage but I hold back because they don’t know me and at the end of the day, I don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m that strong yet.

I leave you with this, please take down my information and feel free to reach out and ask any questions or leave any comments that you want. I would love to hear any type of feedback. I’m ready for it. I absolutely love what I do. Over the past year and a half that I’ve been out here, I found the love that I thought I lost. I know that everyday is a new and beautiful beginning. Some days are better than others but everyday is a chance for change. Stay blessed & blessed those around you. Become the change you wish to see in the world.

Success is failure turned inside out, a silvertip of cloud doubt, and you never know how close you are. It maybe near but it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, it is when things get worse that you must not quit…

I want to hear from you! Email me at to chat or to set up a complimentary training session (for new clients only), visit my YouTube channel, follow me on Instagram and Facebook! And get out there, get moving and have an awesome day!

Also see our blog post, Weight Loss 101: Getting Started to get motivated to begin your journey.

Get a complimentary session with an Elevate Fitness Personal Trainer to get started on your goals. Offer limited to first-time clients, aged 18 and over who are local residents of the Syracuse area. Other restrictions may apply.


IHRSA Passport for Traveling

The IHRSA Passport program is great for active members who travel!

Elevate Fitness’s jetsetters and world-travelers need not worry about losing track of their fitness and weight loss goals when on the road. Elevate Fitness is a proud participant in the IHRSA (International Health & Racquet Sports Association) Passport Program.

The Passport Program entitles members of Elevate Fitness Clubs to enjoy guest access at more than 1,700 clubs and gyms  worldwide when they travel. Check out this video from IHRSA explaining how the program works.

The IHRSA Passport Program is easy for members to use! You need only follow a few basic steps:

  1. Obtain valid IHRSA Passport I.D. from the gym on your next visit.
  2. Visit to locate a club in the area where you will be traveling.
  3. Call ahead to confirm availability, as well as any fees that may apply for that club.
  4. …upon arrival at the club, present your IHRSA Passport I.D., pay the guest fee (if applicable) and you’re in!

Some Tips to Make Traveling to a IHRSA Passport Gym Easy:

  1. Make sure you’ve followed the steps above.
  2. Have a photo ID with you when you visit the hosting club so that you can prove your identity matches the Passport ID.

Also, when you call the hosting gym, ask about things that might affect your workout: planning on taking a class – inquire about any additional fees or registration requirements; want to work with a trainer – ask about guest rates for personal training; traveling on a holiday – ask about special holiday hours that may not be listed on the gym’s website or social media.

Travel safely, enjoy your workouts on the road, and we look forward to seeing you back at Elevate Fitness in our gyms when your travels bring you back home to Syracuse!

And if your a traveling guest from another facility, learn more about Elevate Fitness clubs here.

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One Foot in Front of the Other

My friend Jenny, who heads up a running club, had mentioned something about an ultramarathon on Facebook. As someone who’d only recently completed his first half-marathon, and was in the very beginning stages of training for his first marathon – it sounded insane. I marvelled that there are human bodies out there capable of such a feat and mentally moved on to my next distraction.

At some point weeks later, she mentioned it to me in passing. Within the context of it being an insane undertaking for a runner. I agreed and continued on with my day.

Twice this ultramarathon entered my attention span, and twice I’d dismissed it as insane. Twice.

Reviewing a local calendar online, the event came to my attention again the morning before the race. Fresh off a recent semi-successful 16 mile training run, my ego and enthusiasm prompted me to joke with Jenny, “so, are we doing that ultramarathon tomorrow or what?” … or something similar.

What I wasn’t expecting, though, was for Jenny to take me seriously.

The next couple of hours are a blur:
Jenny and I using calculators to figure the slowest possible pace we could run a 50K race and still finish within the allocated time.
Jenny and I carefully plotting best case and worst case scenarios (including death).
Jenny and I joking about what great training it would be to run an ultramarathon.
Jenny and I scouring the internet for tips for running your first ultra.
Jenny and I trying to register for the race online –



Trying to register???

Well – thank goodness the race had shut down online registrations. So short of driving to the packet pickup location (Fleet Feet) and begging the race director to let us – two novices who’d not trained for an ultra endurance event – to run on a hot August Saturday, there was no way for us to make the ridiculous (and in hindsight, dangerous) decision to register for an ultra.

So guess what we did?


We drove to the packet pickup location and begged the race director to let us register. He was clearly not prepared to address such an idiotic request. His response was something very close to, “I don’t want to offend your intelligence, but you understand this is an event people train a very long time for?”

Well at this point, any sane person would heed the warning of an experienced race director and walk away, right? RIGHT?

Let’s just go ahead and cut to six the next morning when a sleepy Jason and Jenny are lined up with those people the director had told us about (you know, the ones who’d trained a very long time for this event?) waiting for the race to begin. We were lined up with folks, like us, running the 50K and folks who were running a 100K (this was the GLER, or Green Lakes Endurance Race).

Now, Jenny is a runner. She’d run marathons, halfs, 10Ks, you name it – she’d done it. More impressively, she’d often placed in the races she’d run. I had, however, only the dubious distinction of having never died in a race. But we were there and this was happening, so we did the only thing either of us was programmed to do: finish. One foot in front of the other, sometimes running, sometimes walking, sometimes hopping painfully down a steep hill; but always one foot in front of the other. We had only one goal: finish. Make four laps around the course and revel in the moment we’d receive our medals allowing us to proudly proclaim (as we’d decided on lap 3) in our email signatures that we were Ultramarathoners.

Here’s the crazy part (I know, I know – most people reading this far have decided the entire thing sounds crazy, but wait for it) not only did we decide to run an ultramarathon with less than 24 hours to prepare. Not only did we continue to push past every sign the universe shoved in our face telling us that we weren’t meant to run this race. Not only did we callously disregard a race director’s warning (accompanied by waivers I’m sure he was certain he’d have to invoke). Not only did we then show up at the crack of dawn. Here’s the crazy part: we finished.

We finished.

Not because we were prepared. Not because we are stronger or tougher or more athletic than anyone else. But because we kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Sure, there were times I wasn’t sure if I’d pooped my pants or not. There were several times Jenny was instructed to look away from me as I was sure I was about to erupt into a flow of tears rivaled only by the most talented toddlers (in tiaras).

But the bottom line is we crossed the finish line, collected our medals (and promptly hightailed it to the nearest soda fountain for bucket-sized Mountain Dews) and completed an ultramarathon with zero preparation (and in my case, zero experience).

The response from people (who didn’t know ahead of time that we were doing this – we didn’t have time to tell anyone!) was always a variation on a theme:

“Wow, I could NEVER …”

You know, exactly what I’d been saying up until 24 hours before the race. That it was crazy, insane and I could NEVER run an ultramarathon. But then I did. How? Am I super athletic by nature and able to do super-human things? No. Am I such an accomplished runner that this was merely a stretch of existing talents? No. Then what? How?

Was I wrong when I said, “I could never…”? No, I was right.

BUT I was also right that Friday afternoon when I said “We could do this…” And then ignorance being bliss, and with a stubbornness and conviction that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll eventually reach your destination – I did the impossible. The insane. The crazy.  And the totally achievable.

And this, as you can imagine, changes your perspective significantly. You start to wonder what else you can do. Like, maybe I could do a triathlon even though I’m not a swimmer?

(Famous last words:) No, that’s crazy. I could never do that.

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The Best Health Insurance

The best health insurance is probably the one you’re not using.

If you ask most people, they understand the importance of fitness, diet and exercise as preventative healthcare. If you ask those same people if they believe they’re doing enough to stay healthy – they’ll probably tell you no.


If we know that exercising more and eating better will not only make us healthier now, but keep us healthier in the future by reducing our risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer (check out WebMD’s article on heart disease and stroke prevention or the National Cancer Institute’s page on the link between exercise and reduced cancer risk), then why do so many of us readily admit we’re not doing enough? Especially when study after study proves that preventative healthcare is the best health insurance?

For most of us, simply knowing we need to exercise more isn’t enough information. Where do we start? What kind of exercise is best for me? How often should I workout? How long do I rest between workouts?

The internet can be helpful, but it can also be overwhelming and misleading. Try doing a search for “best workouts” and Google will say, “Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s talk about the specific workouts.” So in an attempt to find the best workout for me, Google wants me to tell it what kind of workout I want to know about … this is beginning to look like work. And if figuring out the best workout for me takes this much work, just imagine the workout itself!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Let’s use an analogy. You’re sick. What do you do? You go to a doctor. Why? Because you know that getting expert advice is the best way to get better. You wouldn’t self diagnose on the internet and then self prescribe based on internet articles or opinions (or if you have, you know how fruitless and dangerous that can be). You’re sick – you go to a doctor. Easiest way to get healthy.

Easiest way to STAY healthy? Go to a fitness trainer or coach. Let them diagnose (assess) and prescribe (program) your workouts for you. Whether you go once to get a program design to follow on your own or you go three times a week and have the trainer monitor and supervise your workouts, either way you’ll get the expert advice you need to get started on the most effective program for your body and your goals.

But why go to a trainer when I can download an eBook from the internet or watch a video on YouTube?

“I’ve been trained and educated to determine the most effective and efficient way for you to get results when it comes to exercise,” says Tyler Shepard, a certified Personal Trainer at Elevate Fitness Club in Liverpool, NY.  “As a certified trainer, I’ve studied countless methods for achieving results and can help you determine not only the most effective method – but one that meets your lifestyle and scheduling needs as well.”

Most trainers in the Central New York area charge somewhere around the $1/minute range and offer 30 and 60 minute sessions. Some clubs (Elevate Fitness Clubs included) and gyms will even offer a complimentary session to new members or guests trying to determine whether or not they want to join a facility.

We’re willing to be that if you ask someone who’s lived with the horror of heart disease or stroke or cancer, you can’t put a price on the kind of preventative healthcare that can save you and your family the physical, emotional and financial costs of these preventable diseases.  And ultimately, isn’t that what truly makes it the best health insurance? Think about it this way: you don’t hesitate to pay for things like toothpaste and medications, so why skimp when it comes to something as important as your future health?

Stop procrastinating and get the very best health insurance by joining Elevate Fitness and getting started on building a healthier and happier version of yourself.

Not a member yet? Try Elevate Fitness for FREE!


The Best Workouts for the Time Crunched

In this post, we’ll focus on workout modes for people looking for time saving workouts.

In an ideal world, we’d all have all the time we need to meet all of our goals:

  • we’d be able to spend hours a day in the gym sculpting our dream bodies,
  • hours in the kitchen preparing the most delicious, fresh, healthy meals and,
  • we’d have endless hours to spend relaxing, resting and recharging

But where time is concerned, for most of us, we’re living in anything but an ideal world.

So how can we make sure that we’re getting the most out of the time we do have to spend in the gym? How can we make sure that we’re using our time as effectively and efficiently as possible to get the best possible results? What are some workable tips for time saving workouts?

We know that the perfect fitness program consists of four key components:

  • cardiovascular exercise,
  • strength training,
  • flexibility training and,
  • rest/recovery

The most common mistake that people with tight schedules make is by limited their focus to only one or two of these components instead of figuring out how to incorporate all four into their full schedules. A great time saving workout includes at least three of these components. So let’s figure out how to get the full benefit of all the components while still getting in and out of the gym as quickly as possible!

As an example, let’s assume that you have 30 minutes to workout, three days a week. How can we make sure that you’re getting maximum benefit from that time?

When you work with a personal trainer, they’ll adjust your workouts using four important variables:

  • frequency
  • mode
  • intensity and,
  • duration

In this case, we can eliminate frequency (because we’ve already established that we only have three days a week) and duration (because we only have half an hour to spare on our gym days). If you’re looking for the most time saving workouts possible, definitely consider working with a personal trainer.

That leaves us with mode and intensity – these obviously become our most valuable tools in creating the ideal workout for our full schedules.

Intensity is simply how hard you’re working, or how much effort you’re expending in your workout. The more effort required of you, the higher the intensity. Making sure your intensity is appropriate to your goals is key in making the most of your gym time. We HIGHLY recommend heart rate training as an ideal way to monitor and adjust your intensity to your goals. Read more about heart rate training here.

If your goal is weight loss, the ideal intensity is to be working in the 80-90% range of your maximum heart rate, as this will trigger the afterburn response in your body, allowing you to burn more fat at rest in the hours immediately following your workout than you would otherwise.

What is mode of training? Simple – it’s the manner or way in which you’re choosing to exercise. Spinning Class is a mode of exercise, running on the treadmill is a mode of exercise, lifting weights is a mode of exercise, etc. So mode become important in this scenario because we want to choose the modes of exercise that will give us the biggest bang for our buck and offers the best opportunities for time-saving workouts.

For most individuals who are looking to lose weight, or simply tone up, the best option for mode of exercise is going to be interval training. Interval training consists of alternating periods of high-intensity work and recovery. By increasing intensity, we’re getting cardiovascular exercise, and by making the exercises we’re doing full-body bodyweight exercises (think burpees and jump squats and pushups). Interval training is the basis for the very popular HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts you see everywhere.

Interval training allows us to address both cardiovascular exercise needs and strength training needs – two of our four components of a successful exercise program! That leaves us with flexibility training and rest/recovery.

We’re going to incorporate these two components in one of two ways:

  1. We’ll either plan a 20-minute interval workout finishing up with 10 minutes of flexibility (stretching) and core work or,
  2. We’ll plan two 30 minute interval workouts and one yoga workout per week.

Either strategy will ensure we’re giving all four components the attention and focus that we need to be successful in the gym.

If you’re looking to see the maximum change in your body with minimal time in the gym – for most of the population, this is going to be the best strategy.

Let’s use a different example and say that you have an hour to spend in the gym three to four days a week. This makes programming your workouts even easier at Elevate Fitness Clubs.

In this case, we’re going to recommend that you combine our popular Cross Training or Group Power classes with our Mind Body classes. (Check out the schedules for these offerings here.)

This option will also address all four components of a solid exercise plan while taking all the responsibility for planning a workout off your plate. Simply use the schedule to determine which classes you’ll be attending, show up, slap on your heart rate monitor (ensuring you’re working in the correct zones during your classes) and watch your body start to change in as little as a month.

It’s easy to turn program design into a super complicated juggernaut that prevents you from ever getting started. Why not sit down with your calendar instead, try to carve out three or four windows a week when you can hit the gym and get started on your journey to your best body ever?

Not a member yet? Try Elevate Fitness for FREE!


Weight Loss 101: Getting Started

If you ask ten different people who’ve lost weight what the secret to their weight loss success is, you’ll get ten different answers. It’s not just because weight loss is an intensely personal experience, but because everyone’s perception of what actually did the trick can vary significantly from person to person.

When you add in the unending parade of misleading articles and resources online, countless self-appointed experts and an increasing demand on your time and energy and it’s no wonder why so many people struggle to create their own success stories with weight loss.

The goal of this piece is simple: to provide you with a basic outline for success in weight loss that will work for 95% of the population. The other 5% will be affected by medical or socio-economic conditions that require a highly personalized approach – but this post isn’t for them – it’s for you.

Here we go: 3 simple steps that when combined create a strategy for guaranteed weight loss success.

ONE. Consult with your doctor. Every exercise program in the world starts with the same words of advice: “before starting this, or any, exercise program, consult with your doctor…” and there’s a reason you hear this advice over and over again – your doctor will a) ensure you’re not in that 5% we talked about earlier and b) create an amazing source of accountability to insure your success.

The truth is, you can’t count on your friends and family to hold you accountable, because often times, it’s falling into the same habits and lifestyles as those folks that put you in your current situation. And because they often suffer from the same health and fitness struggles as you – they may not be invested in your success as it may underscore their own perceived shortcomings or failures in weightloss and wellness.  Because your doctor is invested in your success, talking about a weight loss strategy with them will ensure you have someone holding you accountable who’s objective and rooting for you.

TWO. Count every calorie you consume and spend and track them. This is just basic science, folks. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You cannot lose weight without following this principle (and that’s why it’s so important to track these things).

In order to lose one pound, you need to burn approximately 3500 calories. In theory. In reality, what that means is that you need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories in order to lose a pound. If you burn 3500 calories but take in 7000 – you’d gain a pound. (And you’d be surprised how many people overestimate their caloric burn and underestimate their caloric intake – create a surplus instead of a deficit!)

So the rule is simple: every day track how many calories you take in and how many you spend. Make sure you end up with a negative number at the end of every single day. If you track-as-you-go there should be no big surprises when you step on the scale. Don’t assume you can lose weight without good tracking habits – simple math on paper cannot lie, but you’d be surprised the lies our brain is willing to tell us when we want that special treat at the end of the day.

Go to bed every single day with a caloric deficit. And if you want to get really specific, plan your deficit based on your weight loss goals using the 3500 cal = 1 pound math. And when I say track them, I mean write the numbers on a calendar. Write them in a journal. Anywhere. Just make sure you’re keeping  a record of your calories in and calories out.

THREE. Decide how you’ll define your success and WRITE IT DOWN. Is it pounds lost? The fit of your favorite jeans? The number of uninterrupted minutes you can spend running? Whatever it is, define it. And make it a part of your tracking habits. Tracking weight? Weigh yourself regularly and write it down. Tracking the fit of your clothes? Take a pic in your favorite jeans twice a week. Minutes spent running? Make a log.

You MUST have a clearly defined goal and measurement chosen in order to know when/if you’ve created your success story. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” You have to say, “I want to lose 10 pounds by the time we open the pool this year.” Or “I want to fit into my favorite jeans before my high-school reunion.”  And write it down. Write it down several times. Put it with your tracking logs/journals/diary/whatever you choose. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your fridge or in the cupboard with those crackers you always run to at the end of a long day. Stick one on your mirror in the bathroom or on your closet door.

Remind yourself regularly of your goal and WHY that goal is important to you. Ultimately, you’re accountable to yourself. If you really want to achieve something, you need to constantly keep the goal and the reasons in front of you to maintain your focus and motivation.

There are plenty of other rules. Plenty of programs and guides and recommendations. But I personally guarantee you that if you do nothing more than these three things you will absolutely lose weight. So before you invest in the big programs or drop bucks on the next big thing, just do these three things consistently for three weeks. If you see results, keep going. If you don’t – go back and read this again – you’re doing something wrong. You can even email me at and we’ll figure out what that is.

So get out there and use these three simple rules to write your own success story. I believe in you. Do you?

Not a member yet? Try Elevate Fitness for FREE!


Gym Trial in Syracuse? Not without checking out these tips!

People search for GYM TRIAL SYRACUSE all day long on Google (and sometimes, but rarely, on Bing). But do you know how to get the most out of those trial memberships that you’re seeking out? We’ve pulled together some easy tips and tricks to make sure you get the most out of your GYM TRIAL SYRACUSE.

Most people don’t use all 7 days of their pass. This is a mistake. The best way to get the most value from your 7 day membership, is to use all 3 days. By planning your week you can ensure that issues like overtraining and recovery are addressed while still maximizing the value of your free membership.

Take advantage of any free sessions with a trainer that you’re offered. And if you’re not offered one – ask! Even if it’s not a standard offer, many clubs will give you a complimentary session if you ask for one. Day 1 of your 7 day membership should be spent with a trainer learning as much as you can about how to best reach your specific goals, and to get feedback about how you’re planning to spend the rest of your gym trial.

Go to the Group Fitness Classes! These instructor-led workouts will ensure you’re using your time wisely and getting the most bang for your workout buck. Try to schedule your time so that you are getting different types of workouts on back-to-back days. For example, follow a cardio day (spinning, aerobics, etc.) with a strength-training day (sculpt, power, etc.) and on days you feel like you need to recover check out a yoga or pilates class. This will allow you to go to your gym for 7 consecutive days without overtraining. Check out the Elevate class schedules here.

Socialize! Meet members who are working toward goals similar to yours, or who enjoy the same workouts or classes. The power of having workout buddies will spill beyond your 7 days and help you maintain your motivation to reach your goals.

Don’t be afraid of “double-days” – you’ve only committed to a week so don’t be afraid to schedule double sessions or event to visit the club twice in one day. The more you can expose yourself to during your trial membership (especially classes) the more information you’ll have in your arsenal to maintain your progress outside the gym after your trial ends.

Okay, don’t pester them, but talk to them. Ask lots of questions! Most employees in a gym work there because they’re passionate about fitness and wellness. Take advantage of what they know and learn as much as you can about how to reach your goals from people who genuinely want to see you reach them!

If you decide that you like the club, great! Find a salesperson, or someone who can work with you to get you a great deal on membership. Lots of times, clubs give their sales staff the ability to create extra incentives to get you to join. Don’t be shy to ask for a deal!

Not a member yet? Try Elevate Fitness for FREE!


Joining a New Gym? 5 Questions to Ask First

Whether you’re thinking about joining a gym for the first time, or you’re a seasoned exerciser looking for new digs for all those hardcore workouts you’re logging, there are 5 questions you want to consider before signing on the dotted line.

The Questions.


Everyone who’s ever been in a gym knows that something as seemingly simple as a treadmill functions differently based on a number of factors like model and how old the treadmill is and what you’re trying to accomplish on the treadmill.

Make sure you won’t be left without help when you want to learn how to use a new piece of equipment or when you’re ready to change up your workout plan several months into your membership. Lots of clubs will gladly take your membership dues without providing any assistance if you don’t also hire a personal trainer. Stay away from these clubs and choose one that can clearly answer this questions for you.


We all have the same 24 hours in a day that Beyonce has. And look at what she can do with them. Make sure you choose a gym with hours that match your needs. Decide what your workout schedule is going to look like: will you workout before work or after? On the weekends?

Choose a gym that’s open 7 days a week and open long enough each day that if Plan A falls through, you’ll still have time to implement Plan B.


Have you ever looked at your bank statement and said, “I’M STILL PAYING FOR THAT?”. Nobody wants to be in that position. Find out what the gym’s cancellation fees are, what happens if you know you’ll be unable to use the gym for a period of time, and more importantly (because you’re not thinking about joining a gym to NOT use it) – what the gym does to make sure you stay regular. After all, your bank account shouldn’t be the only one getting thinner, right?


Find out what you’ll be charged besides the standard monthly rate. Find out what each fee and charge is used for and what benefits exist for you for each of those charges. Make sure that the answers you get are clearly documented on any paperwork you may sign.


It’s high school all over again, right? Will the other kids like you? Will you have the right clothes to wear? Will you say the right things? It sounds silly, but it’s not! These things are important and will ultimately determine how often you use the gym and how focused you are while using it! Ask questions about appropriate attire (the truth is anything you can safely and comfortably move in is appropriate, but asking will give you insight into the gym’s culture). Ask about busy times, who takes the classes, etc.

The Answers.

We’ve done a little research for you using these 5 questions, and we think that for 99% of the population, Elevate Fitness Clubs will fit the bill. Here’s how they answer these 5 questions according to Mark Clary, a Membership Coordinator with over 30 years in the business:

Who will help me? “Our entire team is here to help you. From your first fitness consultation with a certified personal trainer (included with every membership) to the ongoing help you may need, we only succeed if you succeed, so we’ll be there every step of the way to offer you the resources you need to reach your goals.”

Will I have the time? “We’re open 7 days a week as early as 4:30 am and as late as 11 pm. We’re also open 363 days a year. And we’re not one of those clubs that gives you partial access – when we’re open, we’re really open. We have staff, full amenities. We’re here for you.”

3. Will I Stick With It? “Again, we’re only successful if you are, so we’re committed to making sure we provide every single member with the tools, resources and motivation to create a winning plan for reaching their goals, and more importantly: for sticking to it! This may mean regular reassessments, it might mean getting some emails asking why you haven’t been in the club this week, or some phone calls from yours truly reminding you to get your butt into the gym!”

How much will it really cost me? “With memberships starting as low as $19.95 a month, we can find a program and membership that fits every lifestyle and every budget. We disclose all fees up-front so that there are no surprises when you’re checking your monthly bank statement. I’ve been that guy surprised by a fee, and I personally want to make sure it doesn’t happen to our members.”

Will I fit in? “For a long time, we had a reputation for being an elite club for bodybuilders and people in prime physical condition (when we were a Gold’s Gym licensed club). The reality is that the population of health clubs has changed significantly in recent years. We have a thriving senior population thanks to programs like Silver Sneakers, we have members who are everyday athletes and choose to train with us and we have first-timers who weren’t comfortable anywhere else who’ve made a second home of Elevate Syracuse because of our diverse membership and welcoming atmosphere.”

The Offer.

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Why I Work with a Personal Trainer

by Jason Jaquays-Tarbox

I’ve been working in the fitness industry (sometimes full-time, some times part-time, but pretty much continuously) since 1994. Usually when I share this information with people in person, it comes out as, “I’ve been working in the industry since [cough/mumble/groan].”

I’ve worked in almost every position you can imagine: I’ve taught group fitness class, trained clients, folded towels, cleaned locker rooms, led aqua aerobics, sold memberships, filled drink coolers and picked up trash from parking lots. I’m hard pressed, in fact, to imagine something I haven’t done in the industry.

But that’s all just backstory to increase the shock of my confession: After 23 years in the business, after training hundred of clients and teaching thousands of group fitness participants: I use a personal trainer to keep me focused on, and moving toward my goals.

I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Wait. What? Why?” Why would I pay someone to train me (as recently as two weeks ago) when I have the experience and education to create and implement my own training programs and workouts? I’m so glad you asked. There are 3 reasons why, after all these years making my living in the world of fitness, I still choose to invest in personal training for my own fitness.

Reason One. One of my favorite sayings is, “none of us is as smart as all of us.” Which I take to mean that there is no one who can’t benefit from the experience, insight and perspective of someone else. And that’s why I love working with trainers: they can use their experiences to make suggestion and modifications that my experience haven’t exposed me to. They can give me insight into behaviors that are affecting my results that my ego don’t initially allow me to see for myself. They can share their perspective to tweak what I’m doing to get me better results (it FEELS like I’m getting deep enough in my squats – but am I really?).

Reason Two. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? We all have habits, we all get stuck in our ruts and all of us can benefit from a little push out of our comfort zones. Working with a personal trainer forces me out of my typical routine and gives my body a chance to respond to new stimuli and challenges. I’m almost always sore after working with a trainer because of these new challenges compared to when I work out on my own.

Reason Three. I’m more likely to keep a commitment I’ve made to someone else than I am to a commitment I’ve made to myself. I know, I know – this isn’t my best quality, and my therapist and I are working on it. However, as long as it holds true, I can use this quirk to my benefit and schedule sessions with a trainer on days when I know I might be otherwise inclined to skip a workout or to not give 100% during a workout. Being accountable to someone else is a huge motivator for me to show up and put in the work – and at the end of the day that’s what it takes to get results, just show up and put in the work!

Will I ever stop working with a trainer? Maybe. But if I do, I’m certain my results and my fitness will suffer as a result. So while I can’t say I’ll never stop, I can say I certainly hope I never do.

Want to experience the benefits of working with a certified personal trainer for yourself? Fill out the form below to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation session with an Elevate Fitness personal trainer today! (Some restrictions apply.)


Think and Succeed

Ever since Napoleon Hill wrote his groundbreaking book, Think and Grow Rich, successful people have been using mastermind groups to up-level their accomplishments and create opportunities for themselves and for others as well. Perhaps you have heard of mastermind groups but are not sure what they are and how you could benefit from them.

What is a mastermind?

In the words of Napoleon Hill, a mastermind is “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

Basically, a mastermind group is a group of people who communicate regularly with each other for the purpose of helping each other reach their goals.

The idea of mastermind is taken from the habits of highly successful people.

Napoleon Hill noticed, for example, that Andrew Carnegie belonged to a mastermind group, which consisted of about fifty men. He surrounded himself with these men for the express purpose of manufacturing and marketing steel. In fact, he later attributed the entirety of his fortune to the power he gained from this group of people. Likewise, most of Henry Ford’s success became noticeable after he became close friends with Thomas Edison. Coincidence? Not likely.

These examples simply show the power that comes from being surrounded by people who are interested in thinking outside the box and are committed to reaching not only their own goals, but helping you reach yours as well.

What are the features of a successful mastermind?

While every mastermind group will have its own individual characteristics, there are some elements that should be present in order for the group to function at the highest level possible.

These include:

• A leader. A leader is an essential ingredient for a mastermind group. Without someone to provide direction and keep the session in line with the agenda, time could be wasted in unproductive chatter. This person may also provide individual coaching for members outside of the group sessions.

• Member commitment. Because a mastermind group is only as strong as its members, participants must be committed to being active in the group. The success of a group depends on the willingness of each member to work hard not only on his own individual goals, but also on the goals of the other members.

• Cost. Most mastermind groups require members to pay a fee to participate. The value of this feature is rooted in the fact that people tend to value what they have invested themselves in. The old cliché, ‘You don’t get something for nothing,’ rings true. When members must pay a fee for the privilege of participating in a mastermind group, they are likely to take it more seriously.

Why do masterminds work?

When highly motivated people join together to reach goals and make things happen, the result is often an up-leveling of success for everyone. Finally, you are not just relying on your own ideas and your own internal motivation. By making yourself vulnerable to the group, you are subjecting yourself to their ideas, their motivation and their accountability.

Your goals become their goals. And their goals become your goals. Sometimes you need to be pushed. Sometimes you can’t see what is in front of you. Sometimes you need someone else believing that you can do something, even when you are beginning to doubt yourself.

And of course, sometimes all it takes is being surrounded by successful people who are high-energy, highly positive and highly motivated to stay in the driver’s seat of their own lives. And if these people see you trying to crawl into the back seat of your own life, they will drag you back and make sure you stay on top of your game.

Who can benefit from a mastermind?

Do you have goals that you want to reach? Then you can benefit from a mastermind group. Perhaps you want to set a goal of working out a certain number of hours each week. Maybe you want to finally get a handle on what you eat, but you aren’t sure where to find the motivation that it takes to break ingrained habits. It could be that if you had a group of people counting on you to show up and be strong for them, you might be stronger for yourself.

A great place to try out the benefits of a mastermind is in a fitness boot camp. All the essential elements are there waiting for you. Harness the power of this decades-old success principal, and get back in the driver’s seat of your life.

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Gym Motivation: What Motivates You?

Gym Motivation is fleeting. One day we’re inspired to hit the gym hard, the next day we’re inspired to get our entire monthly Netflix value in a single sitting.

Mike Fohner, cross country running coach, tells this story about one of his students:
Last year, one of my young cross-country runners was fully content walking up the hills and avoiding physical exertion to the maximum extent possible. I tried all sorts of tactics and motivation techniques…to wits end. Even my “walkers club” (post practice sprints for those that walk during practice) had no effect. One meet, this runner unexpectedly knocked 3 minutes off her best time to which I gave a look of amazement to her parents. They smiled and said, “Well…she didn’t walk…so I guess we owe her ten bucks!!” So it appears that money is an effective motivator for all ages!

The Statistics

What’s the truth about gym motivation? Brace yourself. According to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Fitness Laboratory at the University of Georgia, nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months. The question is, “Why?” What is it about sticking with a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?

The answer? Motivation. They don’t want health and fitness badly enough. It is a simple fact of human psychology that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do everything we can to get it.
Your challenge is to find out what motivates you to get serious about fitness and stick with it.

Unlocking Your Gym Motivation

Mike Fohner’s student found that money was the motivation she needed to push her out of her comfort zone and into a commitment that she previously hadn’t been interested in.

Bryan Reece found a different motivation. Told by his doctors that he was minutes away from a heart attack, Bryan decided to fight back. Even though he had not been in a gym in 30 years, he turned his life around and eventually became a finisher in the Arizona Ironman competition. You can read his story in the book, You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon by Jacques Steinberg.

You do not have to be part of that 50 percent who quit. You can stay committed and finish strong. It is all about finding what motivates you personally.

Here are some possible motivators for you.

1. Do it for your health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of many cancers, prevent diabetes, keep a sharp mind and resist dementia and avoid many of the common ailments that come with aging. It is possible to age without decay, and the key to this is exercise and eating well.

2. Do it to look better. Appearance isn’t everything, but most of us care how we look. A strong and healthy person just looks good. And it isn’t all physical. Your demeanor will change as you develop the confidence that comes from the discipline of fitness. You will appear more energetic and confident because you will be more energetic and confident!

3. Do it to relieve stress. Really! It isn’t a cliché. Exercising really does cause physical changes in your brain and nervous system that results in feelings of calmness and well-being. In fact, you may get so hooked on the mental benefits of exercise that you will crave it!

4. Do it to be strong. If you have never done focused weight training, then you literally have no idea of the total transformation that you will feel after just a few weeks. There is nothing like bending over to pick something up that normally results in discomfort, strain and even pain, only to find out that it is a piece of cake! And by getting strong now, you reduce your risk of age-related falls and fractures because you have the core strength and balance to keep yourself stable.

It is worth taking the time to discover the powerful motivators in your life. Don’t worry about ‘bribing’ yourself: do what it takes to get yourself moving. Find out what makes sweating worth it. Find out what you want more than that brownie. Your health is at stake; in fact, your very life is at stake. It’s time to transform yourself.

If you need the extra motivation, check out our member rewards program.

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Why You Need a Coach

There’s a reason why celebrities and other highly successful people use coaches and trainers: IT WORKS.

And that is why so many people are turning to personal trainers to help them move from mediocre to excellence in their pursuit of health, fitness and weight loss.

The Reality

More than 91% of people who start an exercise program quit early—even before their new routine becomes a habit, and 61% will give up within the very first week!

Why? Because changing your lifestyle is hard. In spite of all the infomercials and ads claiming that you can lose weight and transform your body in thirty days (or six weeks at the longest), the truth is, getting fit requires a lifestyle makeover that takes.

  • Time
  • Determination
  • Support

If any of these components is missing, the odds of success plummet.

The Fix

The good news is that one component virtually guarantees the continued presence of the other two, and that is support–and support is the heart of what a good personal trainer provides.

A personal trainer helps with the time factor in two ways:

  1. Finding time in your schedule to actually work out
  2. Sticking with your program long enough to reach your goals.

A personal trainers supports you looking at your schedule and find ways to make fitness fit. A seasoned personal trainer has much wisdom in the area of time management and is a master at figuring out how to work exercise into even the busiest schedules. He can also design workouts that are both efficient and effective. Finally, a personal trainer can also provide the motivation that you need to keep going, long after you would have stopped were you doing working out by yourself.
Determination is also an area that a personal trainer supports you in. At the beginning of your new fitness program, you have excitement, novelty and the joy of discovery to keep you going. But eventually, what used to be new and fun becomes old and boring. If determination fades, you will find yourself wandering off track in search of the next exciting pursuit.

Your personal trainer will help you keep your determination. He will remind you why you are doing what you are doing. He will get into your life and help you move past obstacles that arise, and he will talk you out of excuse-making. He will constantly hold before you the consequences of your choices. He will keep you moving forward.

And finally, a personal trainer supports you as your source for practical, step-by-step instructions for building health. Your personal trainer is an expert in the field of exercise science. While under the tutelage of a personal trainer, you do not have to design your own program of fitness, constantly wondering whether you are doing the right exercises in the right way. A personal trainer will create a customized blueprint that will help you achieve your goals.
A personal trainer is your insurance policy against being another number in the appalling fitness drop-out statistics. Don’t try to go it alone; we all need help.

Position yourself for success by working with a personal trainer and watch fitness and robust health become part of your life.


Schedule a complimentary, no-obligation session with a Personal Trainer at Elevate Fitness by filling out the form below. Some restrictions apply.


Gold’s Gym Syracuse become Elevate Fitness!

Gold’s Gym Syracuse became Elevate Fitness effective September 1, 2017. While we have had a successful run as Gold’s Gym franchise for over 20 years, becoming an independent club will allow us to best serve members at our Liverpool and DeWitt locations. We appreciate those of you who’ve been with us all along, and we realize you may have some questions, so we’d like to take this opportunity to answer some of the most common.

  • Both our Liverpool and DeWitt locations will become independent clubs, but will remain under the same management. This decision brings us back to our roots of being a locally-owned business, when we opened in the 1980s as Sundown Health and Racquet Club.
  • This change will not only help our clubs grow, but allow us to invest our time and money to create new and better experiences for our members. Being independent means we have more flexibility and control over what we do as a gym to best serve the needs of our members and build a stronger community.
  • There won’t be any cuts in service, resources, programming or staff, and there won’t be an increase in pricing.

Elevate Fitness continues to be the only full-featured, multi-amenity fitness club in Syracuse. You’ll start noticing positive changes right away.

  • We’re adding more classes. The member experience is our top priority. We already offer more classes per month than any other gym in the area—and we think members will be excited about the new aquatics and yoga programming rolling out this fall.
  • We’re brightening up both locations with fresh paint. Please excuse the temporary inconvenience—we’re striving to finish painting as soon as possible.
  • In Liverpool, we’re putting in a new athletic-based training area complete with turf, kettle bells, ropes and more. The Liverpool location will also add 15 new treadmills with personal TVs. The yoga studio has also been refurbished and a new yoga schedule will be announced in the fall.
  • We’re giving our pool a makeover to accommodate new water fitness classes. We recently invested over $120,000 in new equipment at our DeWitt location.

We live in a technology-driven world, so we built new digital and mobile functionalities and apps to make Elevate Fitness a more personalized, interactive, results-driven experience for members.

  • We have a new mobile-friendly website so members can manage their fitness experience at their convenience. The online member portal enables members to sign up for classes, purchase personal training sessions and class passes, and view their fitness progress at their convenience and discretion.
  • We’re creating a free mobile app (for iPhone and Android) so members can monitor their fitness goals in real time. This includes tracking calories/weight loss and a heart rate monitor that can be used during classes and workouts.
  • We’re installing Fit3D, a wellness assessment 3D body scanner. The 3D body scanner will measure body fat and full body analyses to show muscle mass, posture and track progress—emailed instantly to each member.
  • We’re rolling out a new rewards program for members to earn points for regular to promote a healthy lifestyle. The reward system will track visits automatically and points can be used for retail, food/drinks, memberships, personal training or fitness classes.

There will be no changes to memberships, fees, or the services members currently receive.

  • There will be no change in ownership. Tom Muller began working at the club in 1988 and took ownership in 2005. He is just as passionate and optimistic today as he was 12 years ago.
    Club hours of operation will remain the same, as well as the pricing for our services. This includes membership costs, personal training, fitness classes, retail and food/drinks for purchase.
  • These changes will occur at both locations and will cause minimal to no disruption to staff or members. Both facilities will be brightened with fresh paint, along with new Elevate Fitness signage and branding.

If you have other questions that we haven’t answered here, please call the club, or stop in and speak to one of our team members today! We’re excited to make the move from Gold’s Gym Syracuse and we hope you are too! And make sure to follow us on Facebook here!

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