May 9, 2009

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Mark Willes

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Squeeze It In

Finding Time for a Workout Within the Workday

By Jamie Huish Stum

May 9, 2009

Let’s face it, today’s businesspeople are busy. Balancing responsibilities with work, family and a plunging economy can leave very little time for executives to take care of themselves, especially when it comes to their health. Recognizing that the closest thing many businesspeople see to exercise is a brisk pace between budget discussions and board meetings, personal trainers have perfected work- outs that can be done on a lunch hour or even a short break. “A business-person is going to take a lot less sick days if they work out; they will have focus and energy,” says Kelly McPherson, owner of personal training company One For Fitness. “And if they do it during a break or on their lunch hour, they won’t have to worry about fitting it in when they get home.” Exercise, even a quick bout during a break, can also reduce stress and add to a person’s confidence, says Greg Fedderson, a personal trainer with The Treehouse Athletic Club in Draper. To squeeze in an effective workout during a workday, the objective should be high intensity in short bursts, says McPherson. This gives a higher calorie burn and a better workout in the same amount of time. “Focus on total body movements,” she says. “You shouldn’t just be doing a leg extension or a bicep curl; every exercise should involve multiple muscle groups. Think hard and fast.” A full body workout can be achieved in as little as 20 to 30 minutes with compound movements. Adding some cardio, such as jumping rope, is even more effective, McPherson says. A few pieces of equipment can be kept in an office or cubicle to make such results possible, experts say. Their top pick: the resistance band. “A resistance band can do almost everything the dumbbell can and it’s highly portable, it’s effective and it’s inexpensive,” says Fedderson. He recommends starting with a yellow colored band, which offers the lowest level of resistance, then moving on to a green and finally a heavy-tension red band. Two of the most productive exercises with a resistance band are the lunge and the squat, which both work a variety of muscles as well as the hip and knee joint, says Fedderson. These are especially effective with a doorway attachment for the band. A lunge is executed by putting one foot forward and placing the resistance band underneath that foot, holding the handles with both hands. With the torso tight, bend the opposite leg until the knee is about two inches off the ground, then return to standing. To do a squat, stand with both feet about shoulder width apart and bring the handles up to shoulder level. Descend as though sitting in a chair, keeping torso upright as much as possible without hunching, then slowly return to standing. A resistance band can also be used to do a chest press from a standing position. Resistance comes from the doorway to work the core and upper body. Fedderson recommends starting in a standing position facing a doorway. Then put one foot in front of the other for stability and press the hands in front until they meet. Slowly return to a starting position. Other portable workout pieces, such as a mat, can be stowed in a corner or a drawer then used for core exercises including traditional crunches or Fedderson’s pick, the plank. To do the plank exercise, lie face down on a mat then bring the body up until all bodyweight is rested on the forearms and toes, keeping the back as straight as possible. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, keeping abs and glutes tight. McPherson also recommends a stability ball or a Bosu, which is essentially a stability ball cut in half. Both work multiple muscle groups while providing variety to a workout. “I could talk to you for two weeks about different exercises to do with those two pieces of equipment,” she says. “Either one increases resistance and difficulty, which are some of the things people will struggle with in an office situation.” McPherson’s favorite exercise is the ball pass, performed by lying flat on the floor with the ball held between the knees and the arms outstretched above the head. Legs and arms are lifted toward each other, then the legs pass the ball to the arms. The arms bring the ball over the head as the body returns to lying flat. For the Bosu, McPherson recommends doing a squat to press exercise. With a weight in each hand, press the weight above the head and down to shoulder level, in front of the neck. This is performed while standing on the Bosu and moving into a squat. It’s an exercise that works shoulders, core, glutes and abs, says McPherson. To see benefits, Fedderson re-commends doing each exercise in three sets of 15 repetitions about every other day. Bodies will quickly get used to a routine, so be sure to switch up something once a month, even if it’s small, such as the weight, the frequency or the muscle being targeted, Fedderson says. Though some kind of results will come for everyone, the amount of visible change depends on the person, says Fedderson. Anyone can expect to see arms and legs tone up a bit and some added firmness in the tummy. But it also comes down to portion control at those power lunches, says Fedderson. “Seventy percent of your results in all cases, whether it be building up or trimming down, will be diet.”
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