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

7 Mindful Eating Techniques to Holiday Proof Your Metabolic Weight Loss

Posted by RaySa

Dec 22, 2014

A couple months of holiday weight gain can set back your metabolic weight loss for the rest of your life. That’s because most people never shed those extra pounds, and so they build up year after year. Eating mindfully will help you to have your cake and lose weight too. These are a few techniques to take with you to Grandma’s house or the office Christmas party.

Slow down: Sit down to eat. Put your fork down in between bites. Chew each mouthful. Give your brain time to let you know that you feel full.

Control portions: Forget about forbidden foods. Sample a little bit of all your favorites. People often underestimate how much they really eat. Learn to eyeball what an ounce of hard cheese looks like. It’s the size of about 4 dice or a 1 inch cube.

Enjoy the view: Did you ever feel like something looks too good to eat? There are no calories in feasting your eyes on a beautifully decorated cake. Focus on presentation whether you’re serving vegetables or cookies.

Plan ahead: Even soggy crackers are hard to resist on an empty stomach. Don’t get caught hungry. Bring along carrot sticks and yogurt drinks on shopping expeditions. Sip a bowl of soup a half hour before cocktail parties.

Tighten your belt: Form fitting clothes will make you more conscious of every bite. Trade in loose dresses and elastic waists for a sleeker look.

Don’t eat alone: Do you overindulge when you’re by yourself? Keep plenty of witnesses around.

Work on yourself talk: Drown out the sound of those chocolate truffles calling to you. Tell yourself how much you want to stay healthy or wear a smaller dress size.

Don’t wait for New Year’s to contact us. Fight holiday weight gain by visiting a gym now. Have fun taking a break from shopping and party planning. Exercising will help you to burn more calories and resist temptation.

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Topics: Merritt blog, Weight Loss, Fitness Tips, best way to lose weight, how to lose fat, best weight loss plans, best exercise program, best fitness tips, fit tips

Exercise Your Options: Stay Fit Over the Holidays with Plyometrics

Posted by RaySa

Dec 9, 2014

At Merritt Athletic Clubs, we know how challenging it can be to get through the holiday season with one’s waistline intact. That’s why we are encouraging you to exercise your options by exploring plyometrics.

Plyometrics is a series of fun yet challenging exercises. Collectively, they have the potential to build your muscle strength, burn loads of fat and increase your running speed. You may have heard about some of the exercises in conjunction with previous conversations about CrossFit classes.

Essentially, the exercises involve many of the physical activities that you may have engaged in as a child. Jumping, hoping, skipping, leaping and simulated skating are just some of them. The plyometrics’ routines also tend to include plank jacks, carioca, flutter kicks, clock walks and lateral lunges.

At this point, you may be thinking that plyometrics is something new. It really isn’t. Olympic athletes have been incorporating it into their routines since the 1970s. It’s just now catching on with those who are use to operating outside the world of competitive sports.

Because it does offer such an intense workout, we’d recommend speaking with our Merritt Athletic Clubs’ personal trainers and your personal physician before starting a plyometrics’ workout routine. You may also want to consult with our registered dietitians. That way, you can exercise your options safely and with professional guidance.

In addition, you should be prepared to feel sore after starting a plyometrics’ routine. It is normal to feel that way because of the workout’s intensity and the muscle groups involved. Thankfully, we do have massage therapy and spa services available at select locations. Partaking of those services should help ease the soreness. In the case of certain massages, they may help free your body of excess metabolic waste products and lactic acids too.

To learn more about plyometrics and exercise your options to the fullest, please contact us. Our Merritt Athletic Clubs’ experts would love to help you get and stay fit.


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Topics: best gym in baltimore, Personal Training, Merritt blog, Fitness Tips, plometrics, fitness, how to free lactic acid, merritt trainers, how to lose weight fast, best exercises, holiday fitness, jenna scott

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