Category Archives: Cardio Training



Precor AMT

It’s Black Friday and that seems like a good time to tell you about some of the exciting new things we’ve purchased for the Club.  It’s an extensive list and a lot of time and effort was involved.  There were lengthy deliberations and three different road trips, but the orders have all been placed.  We’re now anxiously awaiting delivery of a great selection of new strength equipment, as well as some nice upgrades for the cardio area.




The big-ticket items for the cardio area are Precor’s newly improved AMTs.  We have several of the original versions of this machine already in place and they are very popular…smooth, easy to use, and a great workout.  The new models deliver all of this along with an increase in stride length  and more versatility in stride pattern.  You can do anything on these things…use it like a standard elliptical, a stair climber, or even simulate a running motion.   At a list price of over $10,000 each, you ought to be able to fly them like helicopters!  Additional changes planned for our cardio lineup includes the replacement of some older recumbent bicycles and the addition of two more Stepmills.

Downstairs the area that will see the most changes is the free weight/bench press room.  Virtually all of the older equipment in that room will be upgraded to brand new Hammer Strength units, including the benches and the Smith machine, and we’ll also be bringing back a military press.  There will be two new plate-loaded machines, an incline press and a “Jammer” that should be popular with both athletes and with those doing multi-chain exercises.


Hammer Strength Jammer

The dumbbell area will also see quite a few changes.  Along with new thicker flooring under the dumbbell benches, the majority of the machines in this area will also be getting replaced.  This includes the big Body Master multi-station cable crossover.  It will make way for a unit from Life Fitness that is very similar but has some great additional features that make it quite a bit smoother and more functional.  It will have both a single and a dual pulley lat pulldown, and a dual pulley seated row.  The old piece served us well for many years, but it’s time for it to be retired and this new unit will be much nicer overall.


Hammer Leg Press

We will also be squeezing a few select pieces into our stable of weight machines on the main floor and replacing a few others.  Lower body enthusiasts will be happiest about these changes, as among the new pieces there will be three different leg presses and a prone leg curl.  We’re making space for these additions by shrinking the lounge area back to its previous (before remodel) dimensions.  This won’t decrease seating capacity, it will just shift it closer to the front entry.

We sincerely feel that the addition of this new top-of-the-line strength equipment will give people using the main weight room a training experience that is  unsurpassed in both quality and variety.  Our hope is that these changes will also eliminate their need to use the weight room on the second floor, because major changes are going to be taking place there as well.  

Deciding on a strategy to re-equip the upstairs  training area gave us many challenges and was the driving factor behind the three road trips.  We are replacing every piece of equipment in that room and we wanted to make sure we got it right.  As our long-time members will remember, for its first decade or so we used that space as a women’s only area.  It gave novice users who weren’t comfortable in a coed environment someplace less intimidating to work out.  Love it or hate it, it was our imperfect solution to an imperfect world.  Then a few years ago someone threatened us with a discrimination lawsuit, so we had to open it up to everyone.  It wasn’t the end of the world, as the room’s users still tended to be novices and predominately female.

When our big remodel took place we made some equipment changes in that room;  we moved some very good older machines in there that we no longer had space for downstairs.   Memories of the past had faded and more and more men began finding their way up to use them.  Gradually and inadvertently the space lost its identity and it was no longer the quiet, safe haven it was intended to be.   So we’ve embarked on a plan to change that.  While we realize our plan may be a little controversial, our intention is to return that room to those exercisers who aren’t yet comfortable downstairs.  We plan to make it the best-equipped beginning weight training room possible. 


Optima Leg Extension

Our search for the perfect equipment for this room was a little like  the story of Goldilocks.  The first line we looked at was just a little too basic and simple…we thought our members would expect more.   The second was a bit too advanced…we felt like there were too many adjustments and it was too close to what we already offered downstairs.  Finally on the third try we felt like we’d found the right fit, the Optima Series from Life Fitness.  It’s a solid line of equipment with a good selection of the most popular machines.  It will fit just about anyone with one or two simple adjustments, but it’s not quite as advanced or as heavy-duty as the equipment that’s downstairs.


Optima Lat Pulldown


Optima Dual Pulley w/ Touchscreen

The second part of reclaiming this room for beginners was determining how we could make it clear that this space was reserved for novice exercisers.  We already play mellower music in that area, but obviously that isn’t enough.  We joked about switching to a pink and baby blue color scheme, but that seems like overkill.  So instead we’re going to give the room a new name and hope that by posting it conspicuously on the wall everyone will get the point.  Once the new equipment is installed the upstairs weight room area will be called “starting strength“.

While we won’t be barring anyone from using this space, our intention in re-naming the room and bringing in a line of weight equipment more suitable for beginners is that the space will regulate itself.  When you add in all the great new equipment we’re adding downstairs, there really shouldn’t be any reason for someone that’s comfortable on the main floor to come upstairs looking for more.  We sincerely hope that this is the case, and that both our experienced users and our novices find a great selection of  fantastic equipment that suits their needs.

All of this new equipment is coming from several different manufacturers and will start arriving the first week in December.  Our hope is to have everything in place before we begin the new year.  We also have several projects scheduled (pool plastering, wall repairs, additional storage and cabinets installed) so things will be a bit hectic with selective closure of portions of the building.  Fortunately December is about as “quiet” of a month as we get around here in terms of Club usage, so you shouldn’t see any major disruptions.  Just plan to be a little flexible as we make these improvements and be prepared for some exciting changes.


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Filed under Cardio Training, Construction, Fitness Strength, Humor

The Big Push

The newly refurbished cardio deck

With the new year fast approaching we’re anxious to get as much space as possible out of the “under construction” category and put it back into service.  We expect to make major headway in this effort over the next few days.

We passed a major milestone over the Christmas holiday and reclaimed the main cardio deck on the second floor.  With the return of this 2000 square feet of floor area, we were able to make some major moves in terms of relocating cardio equipment.  All of the pieces that used to be above the men’s locker room were cleared from that space, as were about a dozen pieces from downstairs.

As we move sequentially through the process, the next step is to complete the remaining flooring on the second floor.  That is scheduled to occur over the next few days, and while it will present some challenges (access to some areas upstairs will be limited at times) once it is completed we’ll finally be able to begin “stretching out”.  There will be three new alcoves for cardio equipment…one overlooking the parking lot, one above the lobby, and one above the weight room.    The large multi-use space over the men’s locker room (where we used to have cardio equipment) will now be totally devoted to core and stretch.

With the completion of the new spaces upstairs we will be able to move the remaining equipment out of  “Studio 1” and begin work on that space.  We will also have room to bring in some new cardio equipment.   As soon as all of the equipment has been placed in its permanent location we will be attaching the new personal TV screens.  Unfortunately there will be a brief transition period (1-2 weeks) when no music or video options will be available on the cardio equipment.  But once the new equipment is in place you will have complete control over what you watch or listen to, with approximately 50 channels from which to choose.

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Good-bye cardio theater and hello personal viewing screens!!!

Our remodel is now over 90% complete, and we are rapidly approaching a huge milestone…the re-opening of the front entry and the upstairs cardio deck!!!  Obviously having the front entry back will make getting into the Club much more convenient.   But what really makes this such a pivotal time is that with the elevator and the main cardio area available for use we can finally start using our rooms as intended and begin moving  equipment into its permanent home.

For the past 16 months we’ve been shuffling equipment around, moving it upstairs, downstairs, and in and out of storage.  With that nightmare behind us, we are really looking forward to putting things where they belong and leaving them there for a while.  We’re also counting the days until we can finally put our antiquated Cardio Theater system out to pasture.  If you’ve ever been frustrated with your holiday lights, multiply that by about 20 and you’ll know how we feel about that thing.  That system has taken years off the lives of everyone who has ever had to work on it.

The building has been wired so that we now can install personal viewing screens on each piece of cardio equipment.  This gives users complete control over they’re watching.  These screens will be installed on most of the equipment that will be located in the original part of the building (there are a few pieces that aren’t compatible).  For the present time we are not going to put these screens on the cardio pieces in the addition.  Again some of them are not compatible, and we’ve also had several requests to keep those areas “media free”.  So we’ll start that way and see how it goes.

We’ve created quite a bit of additional space for cardio equipment, so we’ve ordered a nice selection of new pieces.  We’ll be adding a line of treadmills do all the things our present ones do, plus they allow you to walk at a lung-burning incline of 30%!  We’re also adding bikes….a few uprights and a bunch of new recumbents.  The latter feature a new “step-thru” design that makes them much easier to access if you have mobility issues.  Some will have padded arm rests, and all will have personal viewing screens.  We’re also adding a pair of Crossovers; they resemble an elliptical but they allow lateral movement.  This results in a workout that engages more muscle groups and provides great core training.

Speaking of core training, we’ve also ordered a wide selection of new equipment for the weight room.  But that’s another story for another day.  We’ll fill you in on those details in another day or two!

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Filed under Cardio Training, Construction, Extreme Fitness


IT’S HERE!  HealthQuest’s High Intensity Training Boot Camp

Our dynamic team of fitness instructors is taking the training outside this summer.  Classes will meet just a few short blocks away from the Club, at St. John’s Lutheran School.  There participants will be led through a fun and challenging exercise class that’s been designed to get you the quickest results possible.

This new program is an exclusive offering available only to HQ members.  All fitness levels are welcome, but  space is limited.  Class sizes will be kept small so that each participant gets plenty of counseling and direction.  If you’re looking to add something fresh and exciting to your workout routine, this may be just what you need.

We will be offering 2 four-week sessions: June 13th-July 10th and then July 11-August 7th.  Available class times are M,W,F 5:45-6:45am, T,TH 6:15-7:15pm, and Saturday 7:00-8:00am.  You can register to take either two or three classes per week.  Class fees and registration information is available at the front desk at the Club.

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Filed under Cardio Training, Extreme Fitness, Fitness & Health, Motivation

Now That’s a FUN Run!

Are you a Survivor fan?  CrossFit enthusiast?  Just looking for something wild, crazy, and out of the ordinary?  Here’s something that  you might enjoy then, it’s called Warrior Dash

It’s basically a 5k run with a dozen obstacles thrown in to make it interesting.   They’ll have you scrambling over hay bales, slithering through muddy swamps, and leaping over fire, followed by music and beer at the post-race party. 

There’s a race scheduled for our area next fall, so you have plenty of time to train and to get your costume in order!

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Filed under Cardio Training, Humor

Using the Technology

Life Fitness recently announced improvements to its Virtual Trainer Web Site that expand its capabilities and make it easier to use.   The program, which has over  14,000 active users,  allows exercisers to record their workout results and to track their progress online.  They can also create personalized workouts for use anywhere, anytime on the Life Fitness Elevation Series products.  Healthquest currently offers treadmills and upright bicycles from the Elevation Series.

The Virtual Trainer, which is free, acts as your own personal training coach.  It can recommend a specific workout plan based on your individual goals, and help you create workouts that are customized and based on your fitness level and abilities.  It gives you the ability to create these workouts on your home computer, which you can save to a USB device and then upload directly into the Elevation Series consoles.  Your weight, time, speed, and resistance will all be entered automatically with one tap of the touchscreen.

Perhaps the site’s best feature is its ability to store and record your personal workout history.   With your USB device you can capture the results of any workout, whether you created it in advance  on the Virtual Trainer website or you simply entered it manually.   You can then upload that data into the Virtual Trainer, where it will be recorded and displayed on your personal dashboard.  You can then track your progress, compare it to your target goals, and see how your results change over a period of time. 

Below is a brief tutorial to help you get started using the Virtual Trainer.

A custom interval program

First, login to the Virtual Trainer website and setup your free account.  After that’s done you can navigate into the “Create and Download Workouts” area, where you will find two choices, “Popular Workouts”, or “Personalized Workouts”.  Once you make a selection here, you will see a screen that is very similar to the menu that comes up on any Life Fitness piece of equipment.  You will then be able to choose between “Hill”, “Fat Burn”, “Cardio”, and “Random” programs.  

Here you will be able to choose from the same workouts you’re used to using, or if you have the desire,  create something more specific to your needs.  The photo shows an interval workout that I created with fast, intense running periods followed by recovery walks.

 Once you have set the parameters of your workout. you will need to name the workout and save it.  After it has been saved you can then download the workout to any USB storage device.  HealthQuest has inexpensive USB bands for sale at the front counter, but anything you have will also work. The next time you’re ready to workout, simply plug the USB into the Life Fitness console.  Your pre-recorded workout will appear on the screen, so all you have to do is press “select” and you’re up and running (or biking).  You won’t have to enter any of the usual data, the program will automatically run just the way you set it up.

When you’re finished with your workout, the touchscreen will give you the option to save your results to your USB devivce (you can do this after any workout, prerecorded or not).  Then when you get back to your PC and log back onto the Virtual Trainer, you can upload those results onto the site, where all your data is recorded and saved. 

The program will graph your results over time on your PC

Once you begin to accumulate data, the program offers several ways to see your results charted and graphed.  You can track your progress in terms of time, miles, or calories, view results for the week, the month, or the year, and compare your actual results to your preset goals.

Recording your results can be a great way to see the progress you are making and to keep yourself motivated.  If you need something to help hold yourself accountable, the Virtual Trainer  might be just what you need to boost your adherance.  Give it a try and let us know what you think.

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Lose 3 Times the Fat in Half the Time?

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?  But those were the results of a study which measured the effect of interval training versus training at a steady pace.  Read about it in this NPR article, Running Hard, But Just for a Few Seconds. 

For many years the fitness community has promoted the idea of “zone training” for fat loss.  The idea was to get your heart rate up into the aerobic “fat burning” zone and to stay there as long as possible.  Meanwhile runners and most other athletes knew that interval training, mixing bursts of intense effort with lower intensity recovery periods, provided the most benefit in terms of performance gain.

Spinning was the first major trend that took off using the principles of interval training.  Since then there have been many additions to the class schedule that adopt this idea of alternating high and low intensity periods.  HealthQuest offers Spinning, Kickboxing, Power Circuit, Blast,and Cycle Core, all of which incorporate interval training into the class.

I haven’t seen the move to interval training  adopted as readily in the cardio area of the Club.  While there are a few serious runners doing them, it’s more for race training than fat-burning.  Most people seem to be quite content to punch in a speed and stay there from start to finish.  I think that it’s because many of us just like to “zone out” and read or watch TV when we’re on the equipment.  That’s hard to do if you’re constantly monitoring times and adjusting speed and resistance.

While doing intervals takes considerably more focus, the benefits seem to be more than worth it.  And the best part is that unlike the serious runners doing long, tough, intense periods of work, you’ll be better off keeping your intervals short, like the ones mentioned in the NPR article.  Here’s another article that goes into more detail on that subject: Intervals & Fat Loss.  It suggests that intervals of intense exercise should be kept under 15 seconds, with rest periods that are 1.5 times longer than the work period (you may initially need longer rest periods, depending on your fitness level).

Based on this research it’s hard to discount the payoff  interval training offers.  If getting leaner is your goal, it might be time to get a little more involved with the keypad on the cardio equipment.

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Filed under Cardio Training, Weight Loss