Merritt Clubs Blog


Looking for fitness in all the wrong places

Posted by Joanna Meade

Feb 3, 2014

Recently I asked a friend what they thought I should blog about. “Sex” was the answer. I laughed. All I could think was fitness is more than looking good naked. If that is your only motivation to get fit, you will most likely never get there. You have to find something that challenges you, inspires you and motivates you to get your lazy behind off the couch every day. Trust me. Looking good naked, isn’t enough.

On second thought, however I remembered that Valentine's Day is coming up and realized that sex is actually a perfect topic.

For a lot of people going to the gym is like unsuccessful online dating. You are trying so hard to get in shape, or find the right mate, but nothing is working. You can’t seem to get what you want no matter how hard you try...and it seems like you’ve tried EVERYTHING. Strangely, we often find someone worth dating in the weirdest places when we aren’t looking for them at all. What gives?

The truth is if you are looking for someone else to fulfill you, then you are doomed to be unhappy. It starts with you. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. A welcomed side effect of self-improvement, of loving yourself first, is that others find you more desirable. Fitness is no different; the side effect of being fit, is a rocking body that you worked hard to earn. If you are trying to get the rocking body without being fit - without earning it - you may be that desperate online single looking for love in all the wrong places.

And, to satisfy my friend, the fitter you are, the better your sex life will be. Research shows sexual dysfunction is more likely among women and men with poor physical and emotional health. Moreover, sexual dysfunction is highly associated with overall well-being. In the United States there is a surprisingly high prevalence of sexual dysfunction in both sexes. It is estimated that 31% of men and 43% of women experience some form of sexual dysfunction. That’s right - more women than men experience sexual dysfunction. Your physical and emotional health are the key.

Want to get a date, look better naked, have better sex, and generally improve all aspects of life? Focus on taking care of yourself first; loving yourself and prioritizing your fitness will take care of most of your problems. It’s that simple, and yet so difficult.

Joanna Meade (view bio) is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club. She is a Level OneCrossFit instructor and competitor. She can be reached at Merritt Athletic Clubs Downtown Club at 410-332-0906 or click here for a Free CrossFit Session.

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, baltimore gyms, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, fitness, Personal trainer, Baltimore fitness, diet lifestyle change

More than looking good naked

Posted by Joanna Meade

Jan 22, 2014

Fitness is more than looking good naked. Granted, looking good naked is a welcomed side effect of being fit, but it shouldn’t be your only motivation to put down that cookie and lace up your sneakers. Weight, or more appropriately body fat, is only one measure of your health. It’s the one everyone obsesses about. However, there is so much more to it. Blood pressure, body fat, bone density, triglycerides, posture, flexibility, muscle mass, good and bad cholesterol, even your mental health are things we can observe to determine your overall health.

You have to think of your health as a continuum. Every night you don’t get enough sleep, every day you don’t drink enough water, every hangover, every skipped workout and extra slice of pizza; they may not look like they are affecting you now, but rest assured they are. Everything we do, or don’t do, gradually pushes us toward greater fitness or toward morbidity. Being fit is the best way to protect yourself against disease. It's not just something you do to look good for bikini season.

Fitness is a way of life. It has to be a habit. Otherwise, you’ll never gain any traction.

The next time you feel intimidated by some hoss deadlifting 500 pounds, or that gazelle of a woman effortlessly bounding along on her treadmill, remember that we are not all starting from the same point on the continuum. Fitness is a journey. Everyone’s is different. Regardless of where you are on your journey, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Don’t despair that you’ll never look as good as that hoss or gazelle across the gym. Your workout is moving you a step in the right direction on the health continuum. And the next time you tell yourself you’ll make up for that overindulgence at the gym tomorrow, remember that it all adds up. You can't out exercise a bad diet. All your actions outside of the gym need to support your efforts inside the gym to make any progress on the continuum. Keep moving toward fitness and you'll have much more than a beach body. You'll safeguard your life.

There are a host of resources at Merritt Athletic Clubs that can help you continually progress your fitness. We have excellent personal trainers, group fitness instructors, massage therapists, dietitians, a meal service and even physical therapists, all on site. Improve your overall health by taking advantage of these available resources.

Joanna Meade (view bio) is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club. She is a Level OneCrossFit instructor and competitor. She can be reached at Merritt Athletic Clubs Downtown Club at 410-332-0906 or click here for a Free CrossFit Session.

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Topics: Personal Training, health fitness tips, Merritt blog, Weight Loss, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, fitness, best gyms in baltimore, Personal trainer, New Year's Resolution, Baltimore fitness, get healthy, best fitness tips, diet lifestyle change

Need a Unique Gift for a Child? How About a Gift Certificate to a Fitness Club?

Posted by RaySa

Dec 13, 2013

The holidays are coming up and you're probably looking over your list, trying to figure out a gift for each person that will be appreciated and unique. While many adults enjoy going to the gym, a gift certificate to one is a touchy subject. Some might appreciate it, while others will take offense. Kids however, are another story. A gift certificate to a fitness club that has classes and activities just for them would not only be better than a toy that loses appeal, it would provide fun and promote a healthy lifestyle for a child in your life.

Kids Classes at Merritt Athletic Clubs

If you're in the Maryland area, Merritt Athletic Clubs caters to families. They provide special classes for children year-round, and even have camps and activities when children are on vacation from school. Some of the classes children can choose from include:

If you've got a video game lover on your list, XRKade is a special fitness class that challenges kids using the latest video game technology. Kids get fit using Dance, Dance, Revolution, a virtual cycle, a snowboarding program, and other active video games that motivate children who love to live in an electronic world.

Families who enjoys having fun and getting fit together can do it at Merritt Athletic clubs. Kids love to swim, and when families come to one of our pools, they will have a blast while being active.

If you've got a child on your gift list, consider giving them a gift certificate to Merritt Athletic Clubs. They will, without a doubt, enjoy it more than any toy you could give them.

For more information on locations and programs, contact us.

Just a Hint... Honey Holiday wish list!

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, Personal Training, Merritt blog, holiday wish list, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, best holiday presents, unique gift ideas, xmas gift ideas, best gyms in baltimore, best holiday gifts, gyms, kids fitness, nutrition

Caffeine and a Healthy Lifestyle- Too Much or Not Enough?

Posted by Heather Blake

Aug 15, 2013


Most people think nothing of drinking a cup or two of coffee every day to wake up and keep ourselves going throughout the. Caffeine can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and it seems harmless enough- until you decide to quit cold-turkey and suffer from painful caffeine-withdrawal headaches and other symptoms. Many people find it almost impossible to quit caffeine and go back to drinking their coffee in a hurry. Why is it so difficult to give up caffeine?

Both caffeine withdrawal and intoxication are now listed as official diagnoses in the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as DSM-5. When these caffeine “conditions” impair a person’s ability to function in their daily life, they are considered mental disorders. Both caffeine intoxication and withdrawal occur on a regular basis, but only rarely are symptoms serious enough to be considered a mental disorder.

Caffeine withdrawal headaches can mimic other medical issues. According to Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American University, “We've heard many times people went to the doctor for chronic headaches or because they thought that they had the flu and it turns out it was caffeine withdrawal and they didn't even know it."

Caffeine withdrawal is classified as a patient experiencing at least three of five symptoms within 24 hours of cutting back or eliminating caffeine: headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, and flulike symptoms such as muscle pain or nausea.

Caffeine intoxication is defined as having symptoms such as insomnia, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, rambling flow of thought and speech, restlessness, or nervousness. The other criteria for intoxication are that the person must have five out of a possible twelve symptoms. Intoxication can occur at levels of more than 250 milligrams of caffeine, and it must be very difficult to function at home or at work.

Many studies have shown that caffeine can have beneficial health effects. But anyone who experiences unwanted effects from caffeine, such as sleeplessness or the jitters should consider scaling back on their consumption. People with diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, or high blood pressure are also advised to avoid caffeine.

"Some people cannot drink any coffee, half-a-cup of coffee or a Coke will keep them up at a night," said Jim Lane, a professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. However, "if a person doesn't have any unpleasant symptoms, or any health problems that we know are affected by caffeine use, then I would not try to suggest that whatever they consume is too much," he said.

For more information about reaching your health and fitness goals, please contact us.

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Topics: coffee, health, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, wellness, caffeine, Awareness and Support, caffeine withdrawl, nutrition

Can a Paleo Diet Support a Healthy Lifestyle and Help You Lose Weight?

Posted by Heather Blake

Aug 14, 2013

One of the most popular diet plans out there today is the Paleo Diet, which focuses on lean meat, vegetables, fish, eggs, and nuts. The concept is based on what our Paleolithic ancestors supposedly ate, and has garnered a lot of attention in fitness circles and the press as the perfect answer to the highly processed foods we consume in the modern world. The Paleo diet might support a healthy lifestyle, but is the Paleo diet also an effective way to lose weight?

A panel of diet experts was hired by U.S. News & World Report to review 28 popular diets to determine if they were effective for both long-term and short-term weight loss. They also looked at the safety, nutrition statistics of the diet, and whether it was easy to follow.

The top-rated diet on the list was the DASH diet, and last on the list was the Paleo diet, which was cited as having studies that were “few, small, and short.”

Three of the five studies on the Paleo diet plan had no control group that randomly assigned them to either the Paleo diet or another diet. As a result, without the corresponding control group following another diet, study researchers could not tell if people lost weight because they were simply participating in a study or on a particular diet.

Two other studies that did have control groups assigned participants with heart disease or type 2 diabetes to either a Paleo diet or a Mediterranean diet consisting of whole grains, fruit, olive oil, fish, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. After 12 weeks, the Paleo eaters had lower blood sugar levels, but did not lose any more weight than the Mediterranean group.

Other trials have tried to answer the question of how a particular diet stacks up in the long run. Comparisons of diets such as Atkins, Weight Watchers, or the Zone diet have shown that none of them were better than others. The most important factor in the success of the diet was whether people stuck to them, with more extreme diets like the high-protein Atkins diet being harder to stay on.

If you are trying to lose extra weight, there is no hard evidence that a Paleo diet will get rid of those extra pounds.

For more information on how we can help you reach your fitness goals, please contact us.

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Topics: Weight Loss, diet, paleo diet, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, pale, Awareness and Support, nutrition, DASH diet, fitness goal

Variety As The Spice of a Healthy Life

Posted by RaySa

Apr 30, 2013

Feeling bored in your usual workout routine? The cold winter months are a great time to investigate variety as the spice of a healthy life.

According to researchers at the University of Florida, “One of the main reasons people stop exercising is that they get bored.” Adding variety to your exercise routine is a way to avoid boredom and continue your commitment to healthy living.

Adding variety to your workout routine is most simply done through your choice of exercise mode. Some examples of exercise modes include cardiovascular exercise (such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming), interval training (such as circuit training), and strength training (such as kettle bell exercises or traditional weight lifting exercises). These options and many more are available to you at Merritt Clubs! Friendly and knowledgeable staff members are ready to assist you as you search for new workout options to add to your routine.

As you try new kinds of exercise, make sure to take note of the amount of fun you are having! With so many options available to you, there is no need to stick to a monotonous routine that leaves you dreading every trip to the gym. Find activities you enjoy and keep them part of your routine! For example, if strength training is your preferred mode of exercise, you can add variety through the equipment used in your workouts. A dumbbell workout can be alternated with a TRX workout; or a kettlebell workout can alternate with a workout of body weight exercises.

So remember, variety is the spice of a healthy life! There is no limit to the creativity and variety one can enjoy while pursuing a healthy, balanced life.

Merritt Athletic Clubs is the largest fitness center operation in the Baltimore area with several 24 hour gyms to fit your lifestyle. These include the 24 HR Downtown Athletic Club, 24 HR Buckingham, 24 HR Canton, and 24 HR Cranbrook facilities (Eldersburg, Fort Avenue, Owings Mills, Security, & Towson). Contact us to learn more.

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Topics: healthy living, Merritt Athletics, Personal Training, 24 hr fitness clubs, Merritt blog, baltimore gyms, best exercies, healthy lifestyle, good variety workouts, Fitness Tips, best way to lose weight, fitness, 24 hr gyms, fitness centers, gyms, workout routines, healthy tips, nutrition, group fitness, spice of life

Bored with your healthy lifestyle? 5 Ways to bring the passion back

Posted by RaySa

Mar 27, 2013

You may be a master of self-discipline, but if you find yourself bored with your current routines, the following will you help bring the passion back.

Hire a Trainer. Sign up for a boot camp, or a one on one session with a trainer at a Merritt Athletic Clubs. Trainers can give solid advice and the encouragement you need to make it past a plateau.

Compete. Sign up for an event, like the Merritt Challenges, or join a team. The social support a team gives you can fire up your resolve for a healthy lifestyle. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is an important component in a healthy lifestyle.

Go for the gold. Give swimming a try. The pool can introduce you to muscles you didn't know you had! It is not too late to take a class if you had never learned to swim.

Take Martial Arts Class. Karate is a great place to start. Attending a weekly class as a newbie is a challenge to even the very fit. Build your confidence and focus while learning practical new self-defense skills.

Virtual Workouts. Technology can give your workout the boost of energy you need. Reserve a spot in the XRKade to kick boredom to the curb once and for all. Play your way out of boredom through an exhilarating session of Dance Dance Revolution or virtual sports like snowboarding and cycling.

Contact us to help you break out of boredom and into an enjoyable pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, Personal Training, Merritt blog, healthy lifestyle, fitness and health clubs, Fitness Tips, fitness workouts, fitness, Personal trainer, martial arts classes, gyms in maryland, Member Success Stories, nutrition, gyms in baltimore, group fitness

Make a Healthy Lifestyle a Family Resolution in 2013

Posted by RaySa

Jan 22, 2013

So you're already thinking ahead to the New Year, and for many people that means making some changes to achieve a healthy lifestyle. For most people, the resolution is an individual one, but why not make it a family decision? Not only is there more success with a built-in support system, but it can be more fun too.

Most people think the gym is just for adults, but with the increasing awareness of Type 2 Diabetes in children, getting healthy is not just for grown-ups. Families who are active together are going to be healthier, stronger, and less stressed.

So what can families do at the gym? Consider swimming as a group activity. Not only is it great exercise, but it's an easy sport to make fun with races or silly contests.

Merritt Athletic Clubs have special programs just for kids. In addition to swimming, there are offerings such as karate, zumba, sports, fitness classes, and gymnastics to get kids moving, and having fun too. And if the kids want to go to the gym, then parents get to go too.

So instead of taking kids to activities and sitting there browsing on your phone or flipping through a magazine, this is your chance to get healthy with them! Adults can take advantage of all the equipment for strength or cardio training, as well as take classes in yoga or Pilates. Get active by taking up a sport such as:

Whether you're in downtown Baltimore or in the suburbs, contact us to find the location near you. Bring your family and make a healthy lifestyle a priority in 2013.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, Merritt blog, new years resolutions, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, karate, gymnastics, swimming, kids fitness, Baltimore fitness, group fitness