Trainer Tips: Short bouts of exercise can have big payoff

Today, we're introducing what we hope will be a regular feature: Trainer Tips.

Today's tips -- on easy ways to incorporate exercise into your busy holiday schedule -- come from Becky Conti, an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Certified Weight Management Consultant who works as a trainer and nutrition consultant at Merritt Athletic Club in Canton. More about Becky, as well as her contact info, can be found after her post: 


Recently, the Institute of Medicine announced new cardio guidelines -- to maintain our health, we should spend at least an hour each day doing moderate exercise.  Now, I WORK in a gym and I can’t figure out how I would ever fit that in every day!  And now that the busy holiday season is upon us, I get overwhelmed just thinking about squeezing a workout into my hectic day.  But the reality is, if you don’t put fitness as a priority during the holidays, you’re more likely to gain a few pounds … and then some.  Nobody wants to miss the fun of festive parties, red wine and eggnog, and baking cookies with the kids for Santa!

So trying to find little ways to keep active during this hectic time of year is essential for health and happiness during the new year.  If you don’t have an hour to spend at the gym, here are some tips to incorporate little bouts of exercise into your day: 

1. During your lunch hour or right after work, put your running shoes on and head to the nearest stairwell and run (or briskly walk) up 5 flights.  Jog back down and repeat 3 times.  This 10 minute workout will raise your heart rate and will keep you burning calories even after you’re finished.  And you’ll get it done before you go home and start finding excuses!

2. If you do make it to the gym, instead of spending 45 min on the treadmill or elliptical, try interval training.  You can burn just as many calories in 20 minutes of intervals as you can in 45 minutes of moderate exercise!  Try this:


  • Walk at a moderate pace on for 2 minutes (this should be comfortable)

  • Run at a fast pace for 2 minutes (you should not be comfortable, this should be challenging)

  • Walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes

  • Run at a fast pace for 2 minute

  • REPEAT for 20 minutes


3. If you’re at home with the kids or waiting for the water to boil, try doing a quick 15 minute plyometric workout in front of the TV. Plyometrics (also known as plyos) are power moves that incorporate some body-weight resistance training and also keep your heart rate up.  Try this quick workout that incorporates plyos and body-weight exercises to give you a calorie-burning, muscle-toning workout that can be done anywhere:

  • 15 Squat Jumps (lower into a squat position and immediately jump vertically.  Land back in squat position and repeat.

  • 15 Push-ups (feel free to keep your knees on the floor if necessary)

  • 15 stationary lunges (stand with feet together and lunge forward with your right leg making sure to keep your knee behind your toes. Push through your right heel to come back to starting position.  Repeat on other leg.)

  • Rest for one minute

  • 15 sit ups (on the floor or on a mat)

  • 25 jumping jacks

  • 25 knee lifts (while standing, lift your knee to your chest and then immediately alternate to the other knee.  Repeat at a brisk pace.)

  • Rest for one minute.

  • Repeat entire circuit. 

These are just some of the ways you can incorporate exercise into your day in minimal time and still max out the benefits.  Making time to burn off that eggnog will help you avoid writing “lose my holiday flab” as your New Years Resolution!

Becky Conti is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Certified Weight Management Consultant.  She works as a trainer and nutrition consultant at Merritt Athletic Club Canton and also trains clients through her website  She has been featured in magazines such as Oxygen, Fitness & Physique, and has appeared on the cover of Performance Press Magazine.  She also writes fitness articles for Fitness & Physique Magazine and  Becky also competes in national fitness and figure competitions each year.

If you're a trainer and would like to write tips to share with our readers, please send an e-mail to Also, if you have any questions that you'd like us to ask a trainer on your behalf, send them our way as well.