Merritt Clubs Blog


Nutrition and Strength Training Goals: A Woman's Perspective

Posted by Joanna Meade

Feb 12, 2015

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, women strength training, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, women and weights, women only, weight loss and exercise, Fitness Tips, best way to lose weight, fitness, women nutrition, Personal trainer, Baltimore fitness, diet lifestyle change, nutrition

Broccoli Parmesan Fritters

Posted by Joanna Meade

Feb 12, 2015

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Topics: recipes to get more vegetables, Healthy Recipes, Personal Training, health fitness tips, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, best way to lose weight, recipes for healthy snacks, Broccoli, Personal trainer, Baltimore fitness, diet lifestyle change, healthy weight loss, healthy diets

5 Reasons Women Need to Squat More

Posted by Joanna Meade

Jan 29, 2015

Despite the snow last week, we still had intrepid ladies turn out for the Women and Weights upper body seminar. This week we hammered squat mechanics and practiced many progressions and variations of the squat. However, we didn’t have quite enough time to cover all the reasons ladies need to squat. Yes, that’s right, we need to squat. Coincidentally, on the same day we reviewed squats, this blog post showed up in my news feed and I felt inspired to make my own list. So, without further ado, here is my list of reasons why squatting is so important:

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Topics: Personal Training, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, women and weights, women only, Fitness Tips, squat, Personal trainer, Baltimore fitness

Women and Weights Week 2: Upper Body

Posted by Joanna Meade

Jan 20, 2015

Week one of Women and Weights is in the books. Last week we discussed the core, it’s importance in injury prevention and exactly what it feels like to engage your core. Then we went over several different exercises that test one’s ability to engage and maintain their core. This week we are discussing upper body movements. This is where we start seeing some major differences in the sexes. In general, men and women respond to resistance training in similar ways. However, differences exist between the sexes in overall muscle mass, strength and hormone levels. The upper body movements are where this becomes most obvious. Upper body movements are much more difficult for women. Why is that, you ask?

Men tend to be larger, have more muscle, they are leaner and have higher levels of the sex hormone, testosterone. These sex hormone related strength differences are mostly found in the upper body. Women possess lower body strength levels similar to men relative to their body weight, but men have greater upper body strength relative to their body weight when compared to women. According to top trainer and researcher Brett Contreras, women possess 40-60% of a man’s upper body strength. That being said, when comparing strength per-pound of fat free mass (i.e. bones and muscle) the differences become less apparent. Women’s muscles are capable of producing the same amount of force as men’s muscles.

In our women and weights seminar this week we will be discussing proper form and will practice a few movements to help ladies increase their upper body strength. Here are a few women specific strength training tips to get you excited:

  • Learn how to engage your core and maintain it while exercising. Many women starting a strength training program initially posses poor levels of core stability; they utilize an array of lumbar-pelvic strategies when lifting and often end up overarching (excessive hyperextension) the spine during planks, push ups, pull ups and deadlift movements. If you lose your stable core during an exercise, stop the movement and re-engage before continuing.

  • Work your weaknesses. If you are already really flexible, focus less on stretching and more on building strength and stability. Women tend to have greater mobility in the shoulders, hips, upper back and pelvis and are more likely than men to possess hypermobility.This hypermobility results in less stability and a greater risk of injury. Women are also more likely to over-prioritize cardio. If your cardio is already sufficient, work on building some strength.

  • Utilize eccentric movements in your training. Women have good reactive or elastic strength, but poor starting strength compared to men. This means it is easier for a woman to lower herself down from the pull up bar (i.e. muscles are lengthening, eccentric movement), than it is to pull herself up (i.e. muscles are contracting, concentric movement). Use caution with eccentric training, as this can cause greater microtrauma to tissues, resulting in greater muscle soreness. Additionally, don’t short movements. Keep working throughout the entire range of motion; don’t just drop off the pull up bar, or drop the bar on a deadlift. Concentrate on lowering all the way down.

  • Do several total body workouts each week. Women have an advantage in recovery time. They tend to fatigue less and recover faster, meaning they can train the same muscles frequently throughout the week. There is no need to spend one day each week on a specific body part (i.e. chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, glutes on Wednesday, quads on Thursday, etc.) like many of the men in your life may be doing. One day each week on certain body parts might not be enough to produce the changes you desire. However, please remember, there is no such thing as spot reduction. There is no amount of tricep extensions that will get rid of ‘granny arms’ if you aren’t fueling yourself properly and engaging in other strengthening movements.

For more training tips and some hands on advice come to Women and Weights Wednesday nights at 6pm at the Downtown Athletic Club. Even better, schedule a one-on-one appointment with me, or email me to join my newsletter. Women and weights will only last until February 11th. Also, much of the information here can be found in Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body by Brett Contreras.

Joanna Meade (view bio) is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club. She can be reached at Merritt Athletic Clubs Downtown Club at 410-332-0906.

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, women strength training, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, women, Fitness Tips, Personal trainer, Baltimore fitness

10 Reasons Ladies Should Lift

Posted by Joanna Meade

Jan 8, 2015

Strength does don't come from physical capacity. It comes from and indomitable will. - Gandhi
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Topics: Personal Training, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, women and weights, women only, women, fitness, strength training, Baltimore fitness

Exercise Your Options: 5 Reasons to Take Up Racquetball/Squash in Autumn

Posted by RaySa

Nov 6, 2014

Looking to ramp up your fitness routine this autumn? Why not exercise your options and throw racquetball into the mix? Here are five great reasons to give the idea some consideration:

#1: Calorie Burner & Cardio Workout

For starters, a 60 minute racquetball game has the potential to burn more than 600 calories and get your heart pumping. Thus, it makes an ideal activity for those that want to maximize their time at our Merritt Athletic Clubs’ locations.

#2: Other Health Benefits

Of course playing racquetball or squash at Merritt Athletic Clubs provides more than just an opportunity to burn calories. Each game can also help to tone your body’s major muscle groups, increase your muscles’ range of motion and improve your overall coordination.

#3: Inexpensive

In addition, it is a very inexpensive sport that does not require a lot of gear. All you need are protective eyewear ($20), a good racquet ($25), comfortable sneakers ($50) and a racquetball glove ($15). They are also available for purchase through our pro-shops. Understandably, equipment prices will vary based on where you shop and which brands you prefer to purchase.

#4: Easy to Learn

Racquetball and Squash are also very easy to learn. As such, you’ll be able to spend more time playing and less time memorizing rules. Basically, your mission is to win rallies by accumulating more points than your opponent. The points are essentially accumulated by hitting the ball towards the front wall and keeping it in play.

#5: Opportunity to Socialize

Lastly, our Merritt Athletic Clubs’ locations offer members a chance to sign-up for racquetball/squash leagues and clinics. Both opportunities are a great way to meet new people, enhance your racquetball/squash ability and develop your social skills. The leagues tend to run for 10 to 12 weeks. We should also mention that the clinics are taught by a certified American Professional Racquetball Instructor. Advance registration is required for each one and may be initiated online.

For more information about racquetball/squash and the courts available at our Merritt Athletic Clubs’ locations, contact us by phone or online.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, workout tips, racquetball tips, Merritt blog, Fitness Tips, fitness, burn calories, Baltimore fitness, racquetball benefits

3 Weight Loss Tips You Should Know

Posted by Steve Ruby

Nov 5, 2014

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Topics: biggest loser club, Personal Training, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, healthly eating, Fitness Tips, healthier lifestyle choices, Baltimore fitness, eating habits, nutrition, cheat meals, best gym, fit tips

Best Health Clubs’ Dietitians Dish on Why Turkey is More Than Just Delish

Posted by RaySa

Oct 31, 2014

With a particular pilgrim laden holiday on the horizon, our best health clubs' registered dietitians couldn't help but feel compelled to dish on why turkey is more than just delish. So what is it, besides taste, that makes turkeys one of America’s most beloved Thanksgiving staples? Momentarily stop the clock on your treadmill and check out our forkful of facts:

Every time you reach across the Thanksgiving table for a slice of turkey, you’re adding to your day’s protein intake. And we all know that our bodies need plenty of protein. The Center for Disease Control recommends that we eat anywhere between 13 and 56 grams per day, depending on our total body weight, age and lifestyle. It should also be noted that each 33 gram serving of breast meat alone is likely to net a person 6 grams of the invaluable stuff.

In addition to body enriching protein, that helping of mom’s roast turkey is also apt to be reach in potassium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. They’re all essential to maintaining health too, especially the selenium. Known as an immune system boosting antioxidant, it could help stave off that winter cold as well. And who wants to spend the holidays sneezing and miserable? Certainly not our best health clubs’ members and staff.

Do you desire beautiful skin, a persistent smile and a well rested state of mind? Well, a healthy serving of holiday bird can do that for you too, thanks to those B vitamins that we mentioned earlier and tryptophan. They play a critical role in melatonin and serotonin production, which are two other things that our bodies crave.

Lastly, holiday turkey tends to be very low in fat, unless of course your family loves to dunk a bird or two into oversized fryers. In that case, the low fat benefit will end up out the window. Plus, you’ll have the extra stress of having to make sure that the fryer doesn’t catch fire. To learn more from our best health clubs’ registered dietitians in time for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, please contact us today.


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Topics: Healthy Recipes, best health tips, Merritt blog, health holiday recipes, healthly eating, Fitness Tips, best health club, Baltimore fitness, nutrition

Baltimore’s Best Gym and Fitness Club Recognizes Emotional Wellness Month

Posted by RaySa

Oct 29, 2014

All of us here at Baltimore's best gym and fitness club want to remind everyone that it’s Emotional Wellness Month. And as many family doctors have pointed out over the years, the condition of our bodies has the potential to impact our emotions. So this is the perfect week to sign up for a gym and fitness club membership.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends physical exercise, healthy eating, forming social bonds and developing relaxation routines as some of the best ways to achieve emotional wellness. And you’ll find opportunities to do all four at our Merritt Athletic Clubs locations. Just look at our list of health and wellness programs alone. It includes, but isn’t restricted to the following:


We’ve also got a short list of fitness club programs and amenities designed to help people toss away their stress. It includes group fitness, yoga, pilates, dance, aquatics, gymnastics and massage. Of course some folks may find sweating the stress out during a kickboxing class or elliptical workout helpful too.

Plus, there’s something for all members of the family, including the kids. They may enjoy our XRKade, camps, birthday parties and classes. Parents, on the other hand, rave about our onsite childcare services. They make it possible for moms and dads to get a workout in even when their kids’ regular babysitter is out of town.

To learn more about them and the other benefits of joining Baltimore’s best gym during Emotional Wellness Month, please contact us today. And when you do call or e-mail us, be sure to ask about our free e-book offer. It will help provide you with the secrets to achieving excellent health.


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Topics: Merritt Athletics, wellness programs, Merritt blog, baltimore gyms, Fitness Tips, fitness, wellness, fitness clubs, health programs, Awareness and Support, Baltimore fitness, nutrition, best gym

Kids Fitness: Study says Elementary School Kids are Unhappy with their Bodies

Posted by RaySa

Sep 29, 2014

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Topics: Merritt blog, diet, family fitness, best diets, Fitness Tips, best kids fitness, balanced diet, kids fitness, Baltimore fitness, best gyms, gym membership