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Deborah McConnell

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As a master trainer for Life Fitness and Hammer Strength products, I love sharing my passion for fitness and health. With more than 15 years of fitness industry experience, I've done a little bit of everything. I'm even a certified golf fitness instructor - which works out well when you live in South Carolina. I’ll be brining you weekly Fit Tips to help you achieve your fitness goals!  

Favorite Workout: Running, Interval Training and playing baseball and golf with my son


Blog Posts


The popularity of high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been on the rise for years, and understanding how to successfully implement a HIIT program in your facility is essential. According to ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), HIIT involves repeated bouts of high intensity work followed by varied lower intense recovery times. The intense work periods are typically performed at or above 80% of the theoretical max heart rate, which should feel “hard or very hard” for the exerciser. And it varies in length from as short as 10 seconds to several minutes long. Recovery periods are usually performed at 40 to 50% estimated max HR, which should feel “very comfortable” to the individual and last the same length, less or more than the intense periods.


HowToSayIDontToYourHealthClub.jpgSome of the toughest break-ups involve the physical spaces we’re attached to, and that’s especially pronounced with our memberships to health clubs and gyms. But if a crucial facet of your exercise experience is off, it could lead to months of mediocre workouts and uninspired results.

health club

BreathingExercise.jpgWe’ve all had that surprising moment – in the middle of an ab workout, treadmill run or bench press – when we realize we’ve been inexplicably holding our breath. Our faces are red, there’s pressure in our chest and sometimes a wave of dizziness sets in. Chances are, we finish the set before we explosively exhale, sometimes gasping for breath. I’m here to say that even though breathing incorrectly is a common occurrence during exercise, it’s still something we need to fix. 

LIfe Fitness

Whether you’ve always wanted to start or have been doing it for years, there are plenty of reasons to try a morning workout. Not only will you have that great feeling of accomplishment, you’ll also jump start your metabolism and elevate your mood for the entire day! Just keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a successful morning routine.

Exercise Tips
Morning Workouts

FitnessDuringPregnancy.jpgYou’re a woman who enjoys a hardcore workout with some pretty rigid fitness goals, but suddenly you get the baby bump. Now what? You’ll definitely need to make some changes, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon fitness for the next nine months. Fortunately there are ways to make fitness part of your daily routine, but as an expecting mother, you’ll need to remember that moderation is important before diving in.


You’ve asked and we’ve got the answers to your most pressing summer workout questions. Have a question you want answered by the Life Fitness Academy trainers in future posts? Leave a comment below!

Q: Am I sweating too much or not enough?

Summer Workouts
Ask the Trainer
Life Fitness Academy
Outdoor Workouts

Should I be strength training to muscle exhaustion or failure?

Momentary muscle failure is the inability to continue an exercise in correct form. It occurs when an individual is exerting maximum effort against a resistance at that point in the exercise it is not moving. Despite the effort, the weight can no longer be lifted; which is when an isometric or static contraction is occurring.

Here are a few very important factors before training to momentary muscle failure. First, make sure your muscles are properly warmed up before starting a failure set. Second, it is not appropriate for beginners to train this way. Build proper technique, form and muscle memory prior to adding this type of training to your regime. Third, never sacrifice form to get an extra rep completed. The gain does not outweigh the risk. And lastly, allow adequate rest of 48-72 hours specific to the muscles that were trained.

Muscle Failure
One-Sided Exercises
Isolateral Exercises
Ask the Trainer
Muscle Exhaustion
strength training
Life Fitness Academy

IHRSA 2012 is finally here and we can’t wait to show you how we’re moving Life Fitness Forward with our newest line of products. You can find everything you’ll ever need this weekend on the Life Fitness IHRSA landing page, including information on product demos, small group fitness classes and challenges!

The first day of the show we’ll be doing product demos of the Synrgy360, Lifecycle GX and our Circuit Series strength machines.

Circuit Series
Lifecycle GX
Group Cycling
Fitness Forward
Small Group Training
Group Training
Group Exercise
Fitness Challenge

These days fitness has become more affordable, more accessible and more fun than ever! If you are already tracking your workouts on your smart phone device or participating in programs such as Cross Fit or Zumba, you’re ahead of the curve on workout trends for 2012. Trends aren’t always for everyone though, so I’ve gathered some of 2012’s hottest workouts to help you find the one that works for you.  

High-Intensity Workouts and DVDs

Workouts like P90X and Insanity make it convenient to get fit in the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule. But be aware, these are intense workouts. They work well if you are internally motivated and can be smart enough to adjust the intensity to your own fitness level. If you know sticking to a workout routine has been difficult in the past, enlist a buddy or family member to join you in your workouts. 

2012 fitness trends
Small Group Training
battle rope workouts
workout trends
kettlebell workouts
Life Fitness Academy

Lack of time and motivation seem to be the most common roadblocks for not participating in a regular exercise program for many people nowadays. The recent  economic times have caused many people to take on more than one job to make ends meet. If you fall into this category and cannot even fathom having time to exercise, it is time to rethink your exercise strategy now.

A common misconception is that one has to spend countless hours in the gym to gain any health benefit. According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommendations, most adults need to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Key points that ACSM adds are:

Multiple Workouts in One Day
American College of Sports Medicine
Quick Workouts
Life Fitness Academy

How can I get the best workout on the Life Fitness Circuit Series products?

If you’re short on time, circuit training can be a great way to get an effective workout in quickly. Using equipment like the Life Fitness Circuit Series line makes it very easy to customize a circuit training program that works for you. There are consistent resistance levels across the full product line, allowing you to choose the same resistance level on each machine to match your ability. If you’re working on a level 6 on the triceps press, you’re most likely a 6 on the seated row. How easy is that to remember? Not to mention, it’s designed with no set-up adjustments for exercisers, which saves a lot of time.

Combining many components of fitness into one program promotes caloric burn both during and after the workout. It’s also extremely time efficient. 


A new study from the PEW Research Center takes a closer look at one of the hottest fitness industry trends, health and fitness tracking. Sixty-nine percent of adults are tracking their health with measures such as body weight, calories and distance, and of those trackers, one in five does so using technology.

When you break down that data by age, you may be surprised to see that only eight percent of those technology-savvy trackers use a mobile app. Eight percent may not seem like a lot, but don’t be so quick to write off the thousands of available health and fitness tracking apps as useless. When app trackers are broken down by age, the percentage is double for the younger crowd. 

Health Apps
fitness apps
Industry Research
Fitness Tracking

I recently had the pleasure of participating and attending Eaton Corporation’s Health Fair in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the local Cleveland vendors, Joe’s, handed out a  great Northwest Quinoa Salad recipe that I’ve tested in today’s blog post. It’s a very fresh and light salad with robust flavors and healthy too.

Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. This recipe is served cold and pairs well with flank steak or grilled chicken.

Northwest Quinoa Salad


  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa        
  • .5 lemon
  • .25 cup fresh chopped basil
  • .25 cup fresh chopped shallots
  • .25 cup dried Bing cherries
  • .25 cup dry, roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • .25 tsp. salt
  • .25 black pepper
Clean Eating
Healthy Recipes

This week the web is a buzz about a recent Reuter’s article that points out, “As the American waistline continues its spread, fitness is shaping up as one of the hottest careers of this tepid economic recovery.”

While the obesity epidemic continues to sadden us, this presents an opportunity for anyone looking for a career in fitness—now is the time to get started. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of fitness trainers is expected to grow by 24 percent in the decade to 2020.

If you have a passion for fitness and helping others, and want to know how to become a personal trainer, keep some of these things in mind:  

personal trainer
personal trainers to watch
Fitness Industry
Fitness Instructor

These days it can be difficult to determine what to believe when it comes to the best way to workout. Life Fitness Academy wants to help you debunk some of those scary exercise myths that can hold you back from getting efficient and safe results.

Myth #1: If I do 100 crunches every day I will get a flat tummy.

This is one of the most common misconceptions that we hear on TV and infomercials. You cannot spot reduce a specific part of your body. When exercising for fat loss, fat cells shrink from various parts of the body and it differs with each individual. The best option is to combine cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and a healthy diet.

Training Tips
workout myths
Fat Loss
Spot Training
strength training
Life Fitness Academy

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