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Beat the Heat – Exercise Tips during a Heatwave

columbia hell

Columbia, SC is no stranger to heat and humidity – we’re not Famously Hot for nothing! While some people may like the heat, many of us fitness nuts groan with the thought of running, cycling or working out in 95+ degree weather. Not only is it uncomfortable, the heat combined with the humidity in South Carolina can be dangerous. According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, heat stroke from exercise is one of the three leading causes of sudden death in sports activities, with heat stroke deaths rising between 2005 and 2009 to higher rates than observed in any other five-year periods during the past 35 years. What does that mean for you? It means stay safe! Which you can do by following our tips for exercise during a heatwave.

  1. Stay Hydrated – one of the easiest and most obvious tips we can give. The hotter it is, the more you sweat and the more fluids your body loses. You need to actively replace those fluids by drinking water and sports drinks, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s recommended that you consume 16 to 24 ounces of water a couple hours before exercising in hot temperatures. Past that, take in another six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. If your workout is moderate and less than an hour, water should suffice, but for anything longer or more intense, you’ll need a sports drinks to get those carbohydrates and electrolytes back up.
  2. Watch out for the Humidity – there are studies that show that training in extreme heat can boost exercise performance, BUT these studies did not take into account high levels of humidity (over 30%). Humidity is a given here in Columbia so don’t go overboard with heat training and here’s why – the body cools itself by sweating. When the sweat evaporates off of your skin, you experience a cooling effect. In a humid environment, you don’t experience as much of that evaporative cooling effect because the environment is already saturated with water. Good news if you’re training in Arizona – not so good if you’re here in the Midlands. So what can we do to get our workout in?
  3. Skip the Dreadmill – unless you really like running on a treadmill, of course. Otherwise, set that alarm for 4:30am and get used to getting your run in before the sun comes up. This is by far the coolest part of the day in South Carolina and you’ll get used to it, eventually. It’s also a great feeling to get your workout done by 7am and have the rest of the day in front of you. Find some local running groups to keep you motivated and get you out of the bed.
  4. Hop in the Pool – or the lake, river or ocean. Swimming is a fantastic, full-body, cardio workout and one of the best ways to beat the heat and still get your heart pumping. Make sure to wear sunscreen and have a buddy available at any open water swims where lifeguards aren’t on duty. Look into local Masters Swim groups at the YMCA or other pools to improve your performance and keep you motivated.
  5. TABATA – consider some Tabata training. Great for those who are time strapped and easy to do indoors, Tabata training is a high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) that lasts for 4 minutes. The set includes 20 seconds hard with 10 seconds rest x 8. For example, you do as many air squats as you can for 20 seconds (more than 10 is what to aim for) and rest for 10 seconds. This is repeated 8 times until you get to 4 minutes. It doesn’t sound hard, but wait until you try it. Expand the workout by adding Tabata pushups, rows and sit ups – that would be a very intense 20 minute Tabata workout that you can do in your own home, with air conditioning!

Setting Fitness Goals for 2015

Whether you’re new to fitness in 2015 or a seasoned pro, setting goals is the best way to keep your fitness regime on track. When setting fitness goals, think of more than just the number on the scale. We’ve all heard “I’d like to lose 10 pounds by summer” or something similar, but your weight is not necessarily a good indicator of your fitness.

Why you shouldn’t pay attention to the scale:

  • Your weight can fluctuate up to 10 pounds a day so if you’re constantly weighing yourself, you’re likely to be frustrated by these daily weight fluctuations.
  • If you are losing weight through exercise, you are going to gain muscle as you lose fat. So, you may have lost 10 pounds of fat but gained 6 pounds in muscle. The scale will tell you that you’ve only lost 4 pounds when in fact, you’ve gotten rid of that extra 10 pounds of unwanted fat!
  • Your weight is not an accurate reflection of how you look in real life. Some people carry weight differently – two people can be the same weight but one has 20% body fat and the other has 40%. These two people are drastically different when it comes to body composition and fitness yet the scale says the same number.
  • Many people let the scale dictate their self-worth. Yes, it’s exciting to see the number go down, but what happens if the number goes up? Does that ruin your day or your mood? Don’t let a number take away from all of the hard work you’ve put in and the health benefits that you’ll get out of it.

What fitness goals should I set?

Getting away from the number on the scale, consider some of these goals as a driver for your fitness journey:

  • Aim for inches lost or clothes size. This is a good goal when you first start working out as this is where you will see the most change. Who doesn’t like having to go back for that smaller size jeans?
  • Out of breath after climbing stairs or playing with the kids? Set a goal to run up those stairs or play with the kids longer.
  • So you’ve plateaued – you’ve lost a few dress sizes and inches but you know you have more work to do. Consider entering a 5k or 10k race. Maybe a triathlon or an obstacle course race. These sorts of events are great motivators – you’ll meet other people who are fitness-minded like yourself and there’s no better feeling than crossing the finish line. If you’re local to Columbia SC, here are a few places you can go to find races:
    • Strictly Running – one of the best places to find and sign up for South Carolina running/road races. Anything from 5k up to a marathon.
    • South Carolina Triathlon Series – if you’re interested in triathlons in South Carolina, this is the place to find them. Don’t be afraid of the 3 sports – many sprint triathlons are as short as a 500 meter swim, 10 mile bike and 5k run. Easy!
    • Mud Runs and Obstacle Races – really test yourself with a mud run or obstacle race. Rope climbs, carrying heavy objects, covering some miles in rough terrain – these really are a test of your full body fitness and loads of fun!


In conclusion, set yourself some fitness goals in 2015. Trying to reach those milestones will keep you motivated and on track, and you can look back and see how far you’ve come! Just remember, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

Enjoy Spring with These 6 Outdoor Exercise Ideas

boot-camp-exerciseSpring is almost here! Everyone gets excited about spring – it warms up, the snow melts, there are longer days and much better weather. That means there are more opportunities to get out and about and move your workout from the gym, treadmills and trainers to outdoors. Added bonus – get your daily vitamin D from the sun when you’re working out outside! Here are some exercise ideas to sculpt your body with little more than you, a park and some motivation:

  1. If you live in Columbia, head down to the State House and do some running or lunging steps using the State House steps. This is a favorite outdoor workout for local Columbia residents so you’re likely to find others doing the same. Can’t make it to the State House? Try a parking garage or bleacher steps at your local high school.
  2. Get out to a local park and use a park bench, picnic bench or park amphitheater for doing step ups, push-ups, dips, or (carefully) plyometric jumps. These exercises are great for shaping those glutes.
  3. Head to a local playground and utilize the monkey bars for pull-ups or whatever else you can conjure up with the equipment available. Think American Ninja Warrior or check out this video for a playground workout.
  4. Find a local track for interval running workouts. All great distance runners find time for speed work to keep their fast-twitch muscles active. Try to find local green ways for running and biking.
  5. With a yoga mat and a couple small weights or a medicine ball there are an infinite number of exercises you can do in any park or playground and be surrounded by nature instead of the confines of a gym. Check out this video for some medicine ball inspiration.
  6. If you’re close to a high school practice football field, see if they have tractor tires or tackling dummies or sleds you can use, or smaller tires are great for footwork.

With these six exercise ideas, there’s no excuse not to get out and get fit this spring. Interested in joining a more structured workout, check out our boot camps and contact us if you’d like to join us at Lyerly Fitness!

6 Mistakes Gym Newbies Make in the New Year



Happy New Year! January is by far the busiest time of year in the gym. New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight and get fit have been made, now it’s time to follow through. But how come the gym is so busy in January and then gets quiet again in February and March? It’s because most people make the same mistakes when they start up in January. Take a look at our 6 mistakes every gym newbie makes and commit to being the person who’s still there in June, July and August.

  1. Doing too much, too soon. The temptation is there – it’s a New Year and you want a new you. You’re psyched – you’ve been watching inspirational videos on YouTube, you stuffed your face during the holidays with the promise that you’d burn all off in the gym in January, you’ve created your iTunes Playlist “Workout” – let’s do this! But, if you don’t work out regularly already and go into the gym on January 1st and lift for an hour then jump on the treadmill for an hour, YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF. There are people out there who can work out for hours a day, every day of the week, but believe me, they worked up to it. Start slow – if you’re doing a new movement or exercise that your body isn’t used to, 30 minutes is plenty of time to feel that ache the next day but be able to go back to the gym and do it again. If you go hard, you will pull a muscle, twist an ankle, tear a ligament and be out of the game for weeks if not months. Try a new workout regime under the guidance of a personal trainer. He/she can set up a plan that works to your strengths and strengthens your weaknesses. Don’t be these guys.
  2. Not eating correctly – restricting your diet too much, too soon. Losing weight is not all about eating less. If you change your diet too rapidly, your body will go into starvation mode and start storing fat. Plus, if you’ve added the gym or sports to your routine, your body will need the nutrients to recover and build muscle properly. Cutting things like junk food and snacks out of your diet is always a good idea, but 3 nutritional meals a day are needed to sustain the average human. Don’t starve yourself!
  3. Not having the right shoes or other athletic wear. This is especially true for new runners. Shoes are important. In almost any sport, your feet are taking a pounding over and over again. Your shoes should support the activity you’re doing. There is so much information out there about what type of shoe works the best – it will overwhelm you. For the new runner, go to a running store (not Dick’s or Academy Sports – an ACTUAL running store) and ask them for help. They will let you try on different shoes and talk you through their pros and cons. Athletic gear is also important – you’ll realize that once the chafing starts. Baggy and loose clothes can be dangerous in a gym setting where they can get caught in the machines. Here’s what your gym gear say about you.
  4. Having unrealistic expectations. If your goal is to go from a beefy 400lbs to 250lbs in 6 months, you need to reassess your goals. It is so much harder to lose weight than to put it on so you need to be prepared for the hard work and create attainable goals to keep on you the right path to an overall healthier lifestyle. And your goals shouldn’t always be based on the number on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat – you can be losing fat, gaining muscle and going down a dress size all at the same time. Consider goals like walking or running your first 5k, lifting your toddler without back pain, swimming 10 lengths of the pool without stopping – the opportunities are endless. Discuss your goals with a certified personal trainer to make sure you’re working towards them at all times.
  5. Doing too much of the same exercise – not having a balanced/well rounded routine. This is an easy pitfall for all of us. The first few weeks we do our squats, some dumbbell curls, sit ups, pull ups, run on the treadmill, etc. We’re feeling the difference, the (good) ache in the muscles that says we’ve worked out, but then it stops and we plateau. Your body gets used to the motions you put it through and those exercises are no longer as beneficial as they used to be. Or, another scenario, you want jacked arms. All you do is bicep curls, triceps exercises, wrist curls, push-ups, etc. 6 months later you can curl 40lbs but you’re exhausted after a 1 mile jog. That’s not true fitness. Working with a private fitness instructor will make sure you don’t fall into this pitfall and gain the all-around fitness you’re seeking.
  6. Not making a permanent change. Working out is a journey, not a destination. So many people lose that 10-20lbs and then go right back to their old habits and stop working out. This is the same as the yo-yo dieter. Your current habits got you to where you are today. Making a permanent change to your diet and fitness regime will get you to where you want to be and keep you there. You’ll struggle at first – everyone does – but one of the greatest things about exercise is that once it’s really part of your day to day life, it’s addictive. Your body will crave the activity and it will crave the healthy foods it needs to build muscle and repair itself.

It IS a New Year and if you want to make a change in your life, contact the professional personal trainers at Lyerly Fitness today. We’ll make sure you don’t fall for these 6 mistakes and put you on the right track for a healthier, happier 2015.

Burn Off Those Christmas Calories!

Just in time for the holidays, Columbia personal trainer TJ Lyerly takes a look at how many calories are in our favorite holiday treats and how much exercise we need to do to burn them off!

Christmas fitness woman wearing santa hat

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s is a time for family and friends to gather and many times, eat copious amounts of food. If you’re worried about the extra calories this holiday season, worry no more! We’ve broken down the Christmas Day calories of some of our favorite food and drinks and then the exercises needed to break even.

Christmas Dinner Calories

Food/Drink Calories
1 glass of wine 120
½ cup of Chex Mix 140
4 oz of shrimp and cocktail sauce 80
½ cup of Waldorf salad 110
6 oz of white and dark turkey 340
½ cup of stuffing 180
½ cup of cranberry sauce 190
1 cup of mashed potatoes 300
½ cup of gravy 150
½ cup of green bean casserole 225
1 dinner roll and butter 155
1 slice of fruitcake 324
Total 2,314


2,314 calories! That’s more than some people should eat in a day. It’s good we don’t eat like this every day! Below are some ideas of activities and the calories burned. Actual calories burned will vary by height, weight and gender so results are not exact.

Holiday Exercise Ideas

Activity Calories Burned
Running 10 miles at 7mph (8:34/mi) 725
Swimming 1 hour 650
Cycling 2 hours at 14-16mph 1,400
Air squats – 15 minutes 230
Jumping rope – 30 minutes 360
Total 3,365


Of course, the exercises above are just suggestions and in no way is this an exact science. The best way to have a guilt-free holiday feast is to lead an active life all year round. Private fitness training is a great way to develop a fitness plan that works for you – your schedule, fitness level and fitness goals. TJ Lyerly at Lyerly Fitness has over 15 years’ experience as a certified personal trainer, helping individuals in and around Columbia, SC attain their health objectives. If you’re motivated by group exercise, ask us about our boot camps. Nothing is better than exercising outdoors and the friends you’ll meet along the way will keep you excited about the next workout! Contact Lyerly Fitness today with questions. Happy Holidays!