Question – I go to gym every day and I follow good diet, but I can’t get rid of my tummy fat. What should I do?

Answer – My experience as a personal trainer and as someone who has lost and maintained a 90 pound weight loss for 7 years is that this is more simple than you realize…but not necessarily easy.

Four things:

Diet: the more carbohydrates you eat and the more often you eat them, the less fat your body can remove. It’s not just about total calories! Insulin increases when you eat carbs (grains, sweeteners,  fruits, veggies), and the presence of insulin blocks the activity of hormones that utilize fat. Insulin is the storage hormone and will be storing and building while it is present. Reduce insulin as much as possible by reducing carbs as much as possible.

Sleep: 8+ hours a night and as many before midnight as you can. Sleep is when your build repairs and removes. During sleep your body is NOT resting. It is very active doing things it can’t do when you’re awake. Your hormones NEED this time. Less sleep means more cortisol and adrenaline which increase hunger and fat storage. More sleep means less inflammation and removal of waste. If you have belly fat and are doing everything else right, likely it’s cortisol in relation to a lack of sleep. Or cortisol in relation to stress…

Stress: Stress is necessary for growth. It’s what motivates you mentally and builds muscle physically. But you want acute not chronic stress. Stress breaks down and you must have time to rebuild and grow. As I say to my clients: I’m not building your muscle with these work outs; I’m breaking it down. You build it when you go home and especially when you sleep.

Exercise: this helps not with burning calories but with stimulating hGH and making your muscles more insulin sensitive. It also helps with mood and motivation. Sounds like you got this part, so focus on the others. Don’t overdo this or you’ll stimulate more cortisol, more breaking down, and not enough building and repair.

— I’m sharing here a series of questions I’ve answered at Quora about fitness, weight loss, and nutrition.

Question – Will HIIT Cause You to Lose Gains?

Answer – The short answer is yes if you mean size. No, if you mean strength or endurance or health.

Muscle size includes the stored glycogen. Glycogen is the stored form of sugar, and its presence holds water, too. If your gains are about sheer size of muscle, then you want to eat plenty of good carbs along with protein, drink lots of water, and get lots of sleep to build and keep muscle from being utilized for fuel. You want to do high-volume work outs and rest adequately between sets to recover your slow twitch fibers while burning out your fast twitch by the end of the work out.

If your gains are about strength or endurance or general metabolic health then the answer is no. HIIT will strengthen, condition, and lean you out because it burns up your glycogen stores. In fact draining your glycogen stores is the best part of HIIT.

HIIT is all about incomplete recovery. You DON’T want to rest long between exercises but recover partially and then hit the next work interval hard. By interval 5 or 6 your heart rate should be 90%. By the time you’re done, if you truly did high intensity, you will have emptied your muscles and your liver of their glycogen stores. That means your body will have to rebuild those stores for the next 12–24 hours. This is called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which means your body is now burning fat (because you used all your stored glucose).

If you’re a body builder, HIIT can be a problem. For any other sport or general health, it’s a great value, not only due to up-regulating enzymes that burn fat but building more mitochondria and conditioning you to function in an anaerobic environment (at a high heart rate).

— I’m sharing here a series of questions I’ve answered at Quora about fitness, weight loss, and nutrition.

New Groups and Training Opportunities

coralville personal training iowa city announcement

We’re adding a MURPH group on Sunday mornings. If you haven’t joined us and would like to, contact Teresa at 319-325-4000. This group is free to the public, but requires registration.

(More about MURPH HERE).

We’re adding some one-on-one sessions with Shannon on Thursdays: Noon, 3:30, and 4:30 times are available! Go to the scheduler page to sign up for a free consultation.

We’re dropping Friday small group. So rest up for Saturday morning MURPH!

Our group calendar times are located on this website in the sidebar and on a public Google calendar that you can add to your phone.


New Small Group – Murph for Memorial Day 2017

murph-workoutNeed a challenge? Like your work out simple? Value Primal movements? Need some kind of motivation besides just the drive to lose weight? Then join us for Murph every Saturday morning, culminating in the Murph Memorial Day Challenge 2017.

This work out is named for LT. Michael P. Murphy (SEAL), who was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire to radio his position to SOF Quick Reaction Forces. Though injured, LT. Murphy fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape, before he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007. We honor his sacrifice and memory though The Murph Workout.

When I was Crossfitting, I never did Murph. It was a Hero WOD that I put on a pedestal and figured — mostly because of my injured shoulder — I could never do. But all exercises can be modified or progressed, and this pre-eminent WOD is no different. So I modified the pull ups and pounded it out in 59 minutes. Now, I want more.

I’m putting this on the schedule as my own work out, but every Saturday, whoever feels motivated enough can join me for Murph. The run is through our local park and the exercises are in the Studio. You’ll modify where you need to get it done, and then progress over the months as your body changes. And it will change!

This is a high-volume work out. That matters. That makes it muscle building, high intensity, and will wreck you for a few days. I recommend only one other strength session a week and plenty of low intensity activity. And you need to eat clean (cut the sugar and get good protein) or the tearing down you do with this work out will not rebuild into the lean strength you hope for.

What I love about this WOD is its simplicity: all body weight, high reps, strength plus cardio. However, it’s variable, too. The central exercises you can circuit as you choose: all in one block or in sets of 5, 10, 15, whatever. Just get them done. The run can be a walk or a run/walk if you choose. Just get it done. See? It’s about challenging yourself where you’re at and finishing. That’s it. Just finish. Period.

You compete against no one but yourself. Aim to improve your time or progress the exercise each time you do it. You don’t have to complete it in any set time, and the Studio is open until noon. When weather hits us, we’ll work around it!

The official WOD and unmodified standards are here (and you can also join the scholarship challenge that’s performed every Memorial Day).

A great analysis of performing the WOD is here.

The WOD starts 9am Saturdays. If you want to join, you must text ahead. No drop ins, please.





Why You Should Be Doing Sit-ups

sit-ups-paleo-personal-training-coralville-iowaRan across another trainer online telling people to “never do sit ups.” Well, that’s just ridiculous. Here’s why.

My dad, who was an avid strength trainer into his seventies, once told me he had trouble getting himself up off the weight bench. He joked that he felt like a “bug on its back.” He was doing presses, crunches, squats. He was strong in shoulder, chest, and abs. Why couldn’t he get off the bench?

Sit-ups is why. Sit-ups are a functional exercise.

If you want ripped abdominal muscles, you should be doing lots of clean & press, overhead squats, and deadlifts — compound exercises that put stabilizing pressure on all your core muscles. You can pack on more definition with high volumes of leg raises and crunches.

fallen-and-cant-get-upIt’ll make you purty. It won’t necessarily make you functional.

If you want to get off the floor when you’re 70 or even when you’re 40 and deconditioned, you need to practice, you know, GETTING OFF THE FLOOR. That’s sit-ups.

My deconditioned clients have a hard time with sit-ups, so I tell them to rock, use momentum, whatever it takes to get their back off the floor and get them sitting. As they get stronger, they’ll keep their heels down, drop their knees (that’s butterfly sit-ups), and start achieving a full range of motion of the rectus abdominis. (BTW, crunches don’t even give a full range of motion in this muscle, so why is it called a “good” exercise at all?)

Sit-ups got a bad rap because people were doing them to gain six-pack definition and because people who already had tight hip flexors were working these muscles even more (achieving the complete range of motion draws the hip flexors into the work during a sit-up).

But the problem isn’t over-working your already tight hip flexors. They might be tight, but that doesn’t mean they’re strong. Work the hell out of them, because they are what help you rise and run. Instead, get to building your glutes and hamstrings to compensate and balance your strength.  Yeah, we have exercises for those too!



Strength Squad – Hyper Split Program

personal training coralville iowa hypersplitsI’ve finalized the next program for our Strength Squad small group training beginning the week of September 11th.

We’ll be doing a 2-day split that we can complete in 45 minutes.

I know, I know. You’re asking, “How can you get a decent volume accomplished and work all muscle groups in only 2 days?”

It’s a combination of supersets that incorporates timing, with the highest volumes focused on the bigger muscle groups.

  • We’ll have one day that hits legs, chest, and triceps, followed by a timed full body movement progression (L-sites) and a core kicker.
  • The other day will hit back, shoulders, and biceps, followed by a timed full body movement progression (handstands) and a core kicker.
  • Our summer program (GVT) had 100 reps on each muscle group. The Hyper Split will give us 90 on the back and legs; 60 on the chest and shoulders; 30 on the triceps and biceps in isolation (but they get extra work in all the compound exercises). Additionally, we’ll isolate abs every session.

Our GVT members enjoyed the simplicity of the work out, so I’ve tried to keep things simple despite having to reduce the work out from 3 to 2 days.

And New Equipment!

To get the all-around leg work out I want, I finally got the Glute-Ham-Developer (GHD) roller assembly & pad from Rogue that’s been on my wish list for a year. We’ll do either GHDs on the box or Russian leg curls on the floor, depending on how tough you think you are.

And if you find crunches and butterfly sit-ups less than challenging, don’t expect to be doing GHD sit-ups in my studio. I’ll put the weight vest on you instead!

Let’s do this thing!



Fall 2016 Updates – New Times, New Sessions


Tpersonal training coralville iowaeresa will be running three sessions in the Mercer Park Recreation Center Wellness Room. You must sign up through the Iowa City Parks and Recreation website for the fall. Classes start last week of September and run in two short sessions through December.

She’s offering weekly 30 minute sessions:
FIT IN 15 (adult HIIT)
ZEN STRENGTH (adults super slow strength training)
ACTIVE ANTICS (kids 4/5)

Sign up here through August:


Starting the week of September 4th, Tuesday night will be Open Gym for members. This is a time when you can drop in and do your own thing — unstructured or with a work out sheet or DVD. If you missed a group or just want some extra time, text ahead. The Studio will be open 4:15-7pm and may be shared with other members.


Saturday Strength Squad will move from Saturday mornings 10-12pm to Saturday morning 10-11am

Strength Squad looks like this:
Tuesdays 5:30am
Wednesdays 5:15pm
Thursdays 5:30am
Saturdays 10am
(And during Open Gym Night)

For those clients who would like more strength training but can’t make the listed times, please consider a DIY work out or Open Gym on Tuesdays.


Fit in 15 is moving from 6:10am on Tuesday and Thursdays to 6:30am Tuesdays and Thursday.

Fit in 15 looks like this:
Sundays 11:30am
(And during Open Gym Night)

For those clients who would like more HIIT but can’t make the listed times, please consider a DIY work out or Open Gym on Tuesdays.


Our new 12-week program, HYPER SPLIT, begins the week of September 4th. Join us for a 2-day split focused on muscle growth and getting that six-pack you always wanted! You’ll also work on progressions toward full-body development, including L-Sits and handstands. This is a two-day split, and you may rotate it as often as you wish (2 work outs a week to 5 work outs a week).

Group members may join the new program HYPER SPLIT at any time or may perform strength-focused 5x5s during the class.

We provide work out sheets, with a certified trainer present. Group members keep their sheets to track their progress. Personal training clients may join an unlimited number of groups each month. Group-only members may join based on their membership. If you’d like to try out the group, please text for a free session. No drop-ins please.


Summer GVT and Preview of Fall Small Group Training

personal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowa
personal training coralville iowapersonal training coralville iowaWe’re winding down our German Volume Training (GVT) program that started in June. By the end of August we’ll do measurements and see how group members have progressed in size and strength.

Our team has enjoyed the program tremendously.

GVT is a simple and effective program for adding muscle mass. Despite the simplicity, it isn’t easy and it isn’t boring — especially when you add tabatas and gymnastics progression exercises now and then ;-). However, keeping the same exercises throughout the weeks means you see your strength gains in a way more varied exercises can hide.

Starting in September, we’ll have a new 12-week small group program that includes a split routine, this time upper/lower body work outs. You commit to two days a week in the studio (two group or one group and one personal training).

And we’ll get our Tuesday night HIIT back!

Voice/Text Teresa with questions or to sign up 319.325.4000

Follow Us on Facebook

personal training coralville iowaWe post many things on our Facebook page that don’t make it to the website, so follow us for updates, health information, and lifestyle tips.

We provide fitness & nutrition programs that remove common barriers to exercise through safe and effective training, convenient packages, and an exclusive and comfortable environment at a compelling price. We’re not a box gym. We’re your partner in fitness, because your success is our success!


personal training coralville iowa primal health coachThe WOMANSTRONG Primal Health Coaching program is now on Facebook, where you’ll find news and learn about healthy lifestyle choices.

WOMANSTRONG is a lifestyle coaching program that includes personal training following Primal principles.

Teresa, ACE-CPT

Primal is a lifestyle that can lead to better health and fitness. Primal methods are supported by a growing body of scientific research, anecdotal success, and my own experience. I was obese and ill. I’m now lean and healthy, over 50, and raising two pre-teens. I’ve walked the walk. You can, too.

Personal & Small Group Training | Coralville IA

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