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Events, Fitness, Life,

Protein Bar gets Sweaty at Flywheel Chicago

Protein Bar is one of my favorite healthy fast-casual concept restaurants in Chicago. I love them so much that I featured them in my roundup article about where to get salads in the loop. I recently ran into Protein Bar’s Brand Manager Teddy at the Social Media Day event, who invited me to take a spin class at Flywheel a few weeks out. Protein Bar recently struck up this partnership, as the brands both target a similar demographic and they both promote healthy lifestyles.
Protein Bar and Flywheel
So while I’ve never been to Flywheel before, I have taken my fair share of spin classes. I used to work out at David Barton Gym on a daily basis when I worked at Groupon. Spin was a critical part of my cardio days, even when training for races, because it’s awesome cross-training. What I love about spin is:
– Cardio with resistance and elements of HIIT so you’re burning hundreds of calories
– The instructor tells me what to do. I don’t have to think, I just have to show up
– It’s fun! Spinning to a loud, uplifting beat is an awesome way to spend my lunch break
– I’m tired but energized when all is said and done
Anyways, David Barton Gym did a great job with their spin program, but Flywheel specializes in spin. They’re able to produce a much better product, because it’s all they do.
So what makes Flywheel different from your typical spin classes?
– They have special shoes that click into the pedals. At David Barton Gym, my feet sometimes felt weird because they weren’t specially-designed for spin and fit differently into the pedals.
– Flywheel has a special gauge that shows resistance, pace, and energy output in an easy-to-read format
– It’s competitive! Regular attendees are assigned a username and they can track their energy output through class, that week, that month… all against other regulars!
Besides the differences in the class, the facilities were really nice. The lockers didn’t require a lock – instead you program an easy to remember four digit code. The showers were clean and stocked with everything you need to get ready after a sweat session, including shower necessities like shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, spray deodorant and more.

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After class, Protein Bar hooked everyone up with cold-pressed juice, headbands, free smoothie cards, and special Protein Bar trail mix. The cold-pressed juice was a refreshing tangy mix of greens – perfect for rehydrating after class. I later redeemed my smoothie card for an Avo-Matcha smoothie – a new favorite of mine.
Flywheel and Protein Bar


All in all, Flywheel is expensive. There’s no way around it. Depending on the package you buy, it’s about $20-25 per class. What I can tell you is that if you’ll actually use it, it’s definitely worth it. You’re not going to get that kind of workout on your own (unless you’re REALLY good at motivating yourself and know what you’re doing), or at a fitness studio (barre, pilates, etc.). For people who want to be fit or are looking to lose weight, this is a great step in the right direction.
At any rate, I’m definitely going back – who’s with me?
Thanks to Teddy from Protein Bar for providing photos!
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Fitness, Life,

HIIT Yourself Today For a Fitter Tomorrow

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Right now, I’m going to coin the phrase, You’ve Got to HIIT to Get Fit!

 I can see all of you jumping up and down yelling, “I want to get fit, I want to get fit!” Perfect! I’m here to help.

 What is HIIT you ask? Great question! Allow me to go in-depth about the intricacies of HIIT.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and if done correctly, it can streamline your physique and pump up your metabolism better than any other type of training.

HIIT Options: 

The term HIIT extends to a wide array of training protocols and styles of exercise that have the ability to provide similar benefits, with some styles having additional benefit depending on the protocol selected. While the list below should encompass a large portion of the available options to perform HIIT, this list is not all inclusive.

1. Sprint Interval Training(SIT)

– SIT can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone. Performing SIT requires literally no equipment (but can be done with equipment if desired). All you have to do is alternate going fast and slow doing your desired form of cardiovascular exercise, for more fitness tips and information visit the River Front Times website. Whether it’s summer and you want to run, bike, walk, swim or roller blade outside, or you prefer to go inside and use the stair stepper or elliptical, that’s up to you. 

-Interval times:

Across literature there is a lot of debate and dissimilar information regarding optimal interval timing. From what I’ve read and utilized, these are the SIT intervals that have worked best for myself and my clients:

Beginners: Utilize a work to rest ratio of 1:3. For example, sprint as hard as you can for 10 seconds, and then walk for 30 seconds.

Intermediate/Advanced: Utilize a work to rest ratio of 1:2. Example, sprint as hard as you can for 10 seconds and then walk or jog for 20.

Bonus Tip: As you become more advanced, you can amp up the ante by increasing the resistance during the sprint portion (via resistance on a cardio machine or wearing a weight vest) or increase the difficulty of your rest period by not allowing your heart rate to recover as much between sets. 

2. Tabata Training 

– Tabata is by far the most difficult style of HIIT around, requiring strong mental focus and hardy willpower to complete a round. The caveat? Tabata only requires 4 minutes of your time. Created by professor Izumi Tabata back in 1996, he showed that by performing 4 days of super high intensity Tabata regimens combined with one day of stead state cardiovascular(AKA low/moderate intensity for a longer duration), one could see cardiovascular changes similar to someone performing steady state for all 5 days.

– Interval times:      To truly perform Tabata training as intended in the study done by Izumi Tabata, one must utilize a work to rest ratio of 2:1 for the entire duration, with the fast portion meant to be as intense as possible. For example: Biking all out for 20 seconds, resting for 10.

Today, Tabata encompasses a wider array of training, with some people including weighted exercises (such as barbell squats, pushups, etc) as part of the intervals. For Example: Doing pushups as fast as possible for 20 seconds, and then resting for 10. After that, either do the same exercise again or switch exercises. For best results, try to do each body part throughout the 4 minute time span.

Reminder: Tabata is extremely difficult and not recommended for brand new exercisers. While effective, make sure your cardiovascular health, cardiovascular strength, and mental fortitude is high enough in order to correctly and safely perform this protocol.

3. Class Based/Strength Based HIIT

-The great thing about the world today is that exercise professionals exist to take the guess work out of training, as well as making sure exercise is modified and safe for each individual. While strength based interval training can be done on ones own using body weight, medicine balls, dumbbells, etc, just like tabata training, it’s best to seek the help of a professional to ensure safety and proper progression.

Interval times/Class offerings:

-Just like SIT, the primary interval times when done on ones own are 1:2 and 1:3 depending on fitness level. The only difference is the addition of weights in the exercise. 


XSport Fitness XIT/Queens X Programs:

These classes help individuals achieve their highest level of fitness by continuously challenging their clientele. Classes are lead by the XSport Elite Personal Trainers. These trainers have gone through special training in addition to their training experience and certificates in order to teach XIT classes. One of the greatest assets to these classes is the Polar CardioGX system, which displays every members current heart rate, heart rate percentage based on maximum, name and calories burned for the coach to see and monitor throughout the class so that each client is working correctly based on the current interval timing and exercise choice. Classes routines are changed every 3 weeks so that the body has time to make adaptation, but not to plateau. The other main benefit is that a person would have access to other areas of the gym as well, in addition to their classes. More information can be found at, or just e-mail me with questions!


Personal Training:

If you don’t think a group atmosphere is for you, go find and sign up for a personal trainer and tell them that you want to do HIIT style training! That way you get the one on one help of an exercise professional but don’t have to deal with a group atmosphere.

HIIT Benefits: 

I hear you! HIIT sounds hard. Why should I do HIIT, you ask!? Because HIIT will make you a better, more fit, you. 

Performing HIIT can provide the following benefits: 

-Increased Cardiovascular Health (Endurance and strength)

-Increased Lean Muscle Mass (Especially with Strength/Class based programs)

-Increased Metabolism (Increased Resting Metabolic Rate)

-Increased Mood (Via Release of endorphins)

Increased Athletic Performance Potential (Higher power output, anaerobic strength)

-Improved Insulin Sensitivity

-Decreased Body Fat (HIIT encourages the body to use Fat as energy)

These are but a few of the benefits of HIIT. At the end of the day, if you want to get fit, you’ve got to do HIIT. Get your head on straight, focus, and get to work. Building a strong heart as well as strong muscles through HIIT will benefit you throughout your life. If you have any questions about HIIT, other articles or subjects you’d like to see an article on, shoot me an e-mail at

GO get out there, get fit, and go HIIT yourself!


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Fitness, Life,

Diet to Live, Not to Diet: If It Fits Your Macros; A How to Guide

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Today, is the day you take your diet by the horns. YOU should be in control, not the other way around. Too often the word diet is negatively associated with a predetermined way of eating in order to lose weight. While losing weight is great if weight loss is necessary, too often predetermined diet plans restrict a person from eating things that they enjoy and therefore they develop an unhealthy relationship with food by believing that they cannot have something that they enjoy, causing stress, visit for more tips on fat burning and work out. Controlling your diet, should be stress free. Enter Flexible Dieting, also known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).

IIFYM consists of a person having macronutrient (Macros) goals set for them based on their goal and then eating in order to meet those goals. Macronutrients consist of three things: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate. By altering the diversity of these three macros, you can alter your body composition. Dieting should be easy, and I’m here to show you how.

To begin, to stave off any naysayers to IIFYM, I say this: All diets, no matter what predetermined way of eating they outline, consist of macros. If a person is losing, maintaining or gaining weight, that means the program they chose has a macro spread conducive to whatever is happening with their body composition. IIFYM is not a free pass to eat complete garbage. While it’s true, a person can consume things that wouldn’t be seen on a ‘clean’ diet and still achieve their body composition goals, eating a diet low in nutrient density can cause other issues altogether. I recommend eating foods that are typically seen as healthy as the majority of a diet, somewhere along the lines of 90 percent healthy food and 10 percent pleasure food split is best to maintain sanity. If you want to eat less healthy but still hit your macros, great. If you want to eat 100 percent clean, great. Both work, one is better for health than the other, but, they both work. End rant.

Alright, now, let’s truly begin.

So you’ve decided you want to take your diet by the horns and actually LIVE your life without constantly thinking about your diet in an unhealthy, stressful way. Awesome! According to Orlando Weekly this is the best way to do it if you are using fat burner supplements.

Step 1: Tracking Your Macros

First, download My Fitness Pal (MFP) on your phone or go to and create a free account. Input all of your information and get started! It’s going to give you a calorie and macro goal based on the options you select, but we’re going to ignore that for now and set our own. This app/website will be used to track EVERYTHING you eat and drink, including alcohol. If you don’t put something in, or lie about the amount, you’re only hurting yourself, so, be honest! As a side note, make sure you don’t log your exercise into the app/website and don’t link it to any fitness instruments (Polar watches, fit bits, etc) that you might have. When you enter exercise manually or through a fitness tracker, it gives you extra calories/macronutrients, which most of the time we don’t want.

Step 2: Determining your Macros

Once you’ve created your MFP account, it’s time to figure out our macros. Go to and go through the options. The site has a lot of ads and it’s really annoying, but it’s the best tool out there to accurately generate macros without having to do all the computation by hand.

Fill out the form according to gender, age, weight and the number of times a week that you exercise. It gives the option to choose between an athlete formula and an overweight formula; Always select athlete formula, even if you’re not an athlete. Over the years of training clients I have found that this formula always gives a better result. Once you’ve done that, click calculate your TDEE to generate your TDEE and BMR. BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, or the amount of calories your body burns naturally without doing anything. TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or the amount of calories you expend each day based on your BMR and activity level.

Once you’ve generated those numbers, step two asks you to select your goal. What do you want to do, Gain, Maintain or Lose weight? Select one and get started! The lose weight and gain weight options are more tricky as each of them has 3 options to choose from. Typically the top option works best for gaining in order to limit the amount of body fat gained during a bulk and the middle option works best for the losing weight option in order to maintain a healthy muscle mass during a cut.

After choosing the appropriate plan, you come to adjustable numbers for protein and fat. Here’s where most people wouldn’t know where to go because of conflicting information. To make this simple:

– If you’re LOSING weight, you need HIGHER protein than someone who is maintaining or gaining weight. So select a number between 1.0 and 1.4 instead of the default .8. The lower your body weight, the higher that number should be (so someone with low body fat who is trying to get to a lower body fat percentage would need to be closer to 1.4, and someone who is overweight can be closer to 1.0). I typically keep clients at a 1.2 until they reach their body composition goals.

– If you’re GAINING or MAINTAINING weight, your protein doesn’t need to be as high, especially for women. So select a number between .6 and 1.0. If you’re going to be doing heavy endurance workouts, keep the number closer to 1.0 so that you maintain muscle mass.

Now that you have your numbers set, click calculate and the calculator will spit out your macro goals. In this view it will tell you how many calories, grams of protein, grams of fat and grams of carbohydrate to consume in order to reach whatever goal you set. You can even break down these goals by the number of meals you want to eat!

– A side note: If you have ANY questions about how to go through this calculator and need help or someone to do it for you, feel free to e-mail me and I can calculate them for you!

Step 3: Editing your MFP

After getting these numbers, it’s time to put them into your MFP. On the app, go to ‘More’ at the bottom of the home page, ‘Goals’, ‘Calories & Macronutrient Goals’ and then edit the calories and percentages until the macronutrients resemble the numbers from the calculator (they will almost never be exact, but as long as they’re close, you’ll be OK). Every 5 lbs or so down or up, repeat steps 2 and 3 to make sure your Macros stay in tune with your body composition.

Step 4: Understanding MFP Macro Goals

Now that you have goals in your MFP, it’s time to actually hit them. Under the nutrition tab on MFP, you will see two views. One is a pie chart, we’re going to ignore this one, and a list view with progress bars (As of the most recent update this is true, it may change in the future). These progress bars will fill up as you reach your goals throughout the day by entering food. The main 3 bars to pay attention to are: Protein, Fat and Carbs. You’ll see at the top 3 columns: total, Goal and Left. At the end of the day, Your total and goal columns should be nearly identical and your left column should say 0 or slightly under 0 (if you’re losing) or slightly over (if you’re bulking). As you enter food throughout the day you will see the bars fill, and that will allow you to know how much of each nutrient you have left to eat for the day. Often times people struggle to initially meet protein goals and typically go far over carbohydrate goals. As you get better at controlling these two categories, you’ll begin to notice changes in the way that you eat and ultimately your body composition.

Step 5: Tips and Tricks

I was going to call this section rules, but hey, rules aren’t fun and there is really only one rule: stay close to your macro goals to ensure success. Protein and Carbs are less calorie dense, so +/- 10 is acceptable whereas fat is more calorie dense, so staying +/- 5 is usually better. Below are some tips and tricks to help you succeed!

–  Every 5lbs up or down, recalculate your macros to keep them consistent with the changes in your body composition. Also recalculate if your goal changes (Going from losing to maintaining or maintaining to gaining, for instance).

– Eating healthier, over time, will serve you better than eating less healthy. Yes, you can have that piece of chocolate cake if it is within your macro goals to do so. Should you every so often? Yeah, that’s fine. Should you every day? No. That’s not good for your overall health. You need to eat things with vitamins and minerals to keep yourself healthy and strong!

– Tracking all of your food the night before or in the morning will always be less time consuming than tracking it each and every meal. If you want to do it every meal, that’s great. Tracking can be tedious, so find a pattern that works best for you and your schedule. A note here though, if you decide to track what you ate throughout the day, at the end of the day, you won’t necessarily know that you hit your goals. Doing it the night before or morning of, keeps you accountable for the rest of the day because you know what you’re able to eat.

– Getting a food scale and/or meal prepping will make this entire process easier.

At the end of the day, choose a plan that works best for you. The way that we eat impacts our health and fitness in a HUGE way; make sure you’re impacting both in a positive manner. As I said earlier, if you have any questions, comments, or requests for future articles, comment below or e-mail me at Until next time, get fit, get healthy, and get above the ultimate competition; Yourself.

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Fitness, Life,

Embarking on Your Fitness Journey

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You! Hey you! So I hear you’ve decided you want to be ‘fit’. Welcome, my friend, to the beginning of your fitness journey. My name’s Josh, and I will be your guide, here to aide you in this epic endeavor we call fitness. But listen carefully young fitness warrior! The path to fitness lays strewn with obstacles, challenges and triumphs alike; but with guidance, I will help you circumnavigate your path with ease so that you may conquer the mighty mountain of fitness and stand tall atop the peak!

Now that we’re excited, let’s take a step back. In fact, let’s take a few steps back, and outline a step by step plan!

Step 1: Setting Goals

According to the Health Care Guys, Fitness begins with a well laid plan; we have to know where we’re going and why. The need for a plan leads us to setting goals. Without goals, our success is neither measurable nor meaningful. We’re going to create what are called SMART goals:

– S: Specific. Select a goal related to what you want to achieve and specific to yourself.
– M: Measurable. Select a goal which you can CLEARLY measure your success.
– A: Attainable. Select a goal which you are actually able to achieve. A caveat here; you are able to achieve more than you believe a lot of the time, just make sure your mindset is set for success.
– R: Realistic/Result-Oriented: Select a goal which is realistic and/or outlines an end result.
– T: Time-Oriented: Put a time limit on your goal. Without a time limit, there is no sense of urgency created to actually finish your goal.

Example of a SMART goal: I want to increase my weight from 140 lbs to 150 lbs by adding lean muscle mass and maintaining a low body fat percentage by this time next year.

This goal hits all five aspects of a SMART Goal. By adding personal weight and goal, the goal is specific. By using numerical values, the goal is made measurable. By choosing a goal which isn’t over ambitious within the designated time frame, it is both attainable, result oriented and realistic. By selecting the period of a year, the goal is time oriented.

Step 2: Developing a Program

Now that we have goals set, let’s move onto the program. Our number one purpose here is to create a program that maintains relevance to the goals set forth and to remain injury free. For beginners, doing some research and finding a program that suits your needs works best. For the more advanced… Programs begin to become more difficult. Throughout the coming articles, I’ll do my best to provide proper information on how to achieve your goals through programming. More often than not, it’s best to reference and even hire a professional to develop a program for you; again, to make sure the program remains relevant and you remain injury free.

Step 3: Monitoring Diet

Diet. A word shrouded in taboo. No one wants to be ‘on a diet’. The word itself brings fear because people believe they will be restricted from eating the things they enjoy, forever. To keep this section short for now, that should never fully happen. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and diet truly means nothing more than the food that you eat. To take a step in the right direction, download MyFitnessPal on your phone or go to and create a free account online, then start tracking your food; it’s that simple.

Step 4: Read this blog.

Over the course of time, I will be posting fitness articles to help you better understand health and fitness. Every week I will update and post a new article to keep you up to date with how to best achieve your results. If you have a specific question or would like an article posted about a topic in depth, let me know!

Step 5: Let the journey begin.

Get in the gym, get outside, get in a class, get a trainer, GET SOMEWHERE! All the planning, all the research and all the wishing in the world won’t get you anywhere. Put on those running shoes and get to work! This is where most people fail. Instead of following the pack, take initiative. Your fitness, your health, your life, is all in YOUR hands! I’ll see you at the top or from the top, the decision is yours, fitness warrior. See you at the end.

Stay tuned for weekly articles! Any questions, concerns, or article requests, please e-mail: (or leave a comment on this post).

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Reviews, Technology,

Save or Splurge? Fitbit Aria

When I was in college, I started my own personal blog to get in the habit of writing and to document my travels. I was asked to review products for Verizon due to my young, technologically-savvy readership. I had a blast testing out all sorts of tech toys.

Fast forward to today. I’ve started a new blog with a similar audience. I reached out to Verizon’s Chicago team and will continue my technology reviews with a different twist. I call it “Save or Splurge?” because technology is never (well… rarely) cheap, but can certainly be worth the cost. Although the products are provided to me on a free rental basis, I’m given no direction on how the review should be written. So rest assured, lovely readers. What you’re getting from me is 100% no-bullshit.

Fitbit Aria: A Review

So I decided to start my reviews with a product I’ve been lusting over – the Fitbit Aria Scale. I’m pretty obsessed with my Fitbit tracker (the Flex model). I’ve convinced many of my friends to get one so we can participate in weekly step challenges – I’m always first or second, and it gets super competitive 🙂 What initially drew me to the Aria scale was that it pairs with any Fitbit tracker. If you’re like me, you like things that connect seamlessly. This would explain my obsession with Apple technology – each device is a specific extension of the others. I use my Fitbit not only to track my steps, but also to use that data to sync with MyFitnessPal to get a more complete picture of my health. So why not add the extra step?

So let’s talk specifics. The Aria is not cheap, especially by my standards. At $129.99, it’s a product you have to justify before swiping your card. The Aria can support up to 8 different users’ data – perfect if you live with another person who owns a Fitbit tracker. If you don’t, you can still use the scale on Guest mode without a Fitbit. The scale uses wifi to sync with your Fitbit account and track your data – no manual input required! The Aria scale tracks body fat percentage and lean fat so that the other numbers it tracks (weight and BMI) give a more complete picture of your health. This calculator shows you if you’re within a healthy range of body fat based on the type of lifestyle you lead.

I had the Fitbit Aria for about a month and weighed myself at least once a day (sometimes more). The battery stayed strong throughout my time with it. From a health perspective, it was beneficial for me to see the day to day changes in my body (and what stayed the same). Since your weight can fluctuate a few pounds everyday, it can sometimes be frustrating to see a higher number on the scale than what you expected. Having additional data made these fluctuations more bearable. Having a Fitbit (pedometer) has already helped change some of my health habits for the better. I make more excuses to walk instead of taking public transportation or cabs. And as previously mentioned, it’s gamified fitness in challenges against my friends. Having the Fitbit Aria Scale has made me more aware of what I eat and my fitness routine – I can see the changes on the scale everyday.

It’s worth mentioning the Fitbit Aria’s competition: the Wi-Fi Body Scale by Withings. It uses Twitter to keep you honest by tweeting your results to your Twitter followers. Definitely a good feature for someone looking to make a change, but it’s also more expensive than the Fitbit Aria at $159.99.

So what should you do? Save or Splurge? I would say this is right in the grey area. If you’re not super into health and fitness, you’re wasting your money by purchasing a scale that gives you more than the basic data most people seek from a scale. If you’re into data as it applies to your own personal health trends, you probably already own a Fitbit, and additional accessories are within the realm of possibility. Plus, if you’re into fitness, you’re probably already getting these measurements done at the gym or with a personal trainer… it’s so much more empowering (and convenient) to do it yourself.

What fitness technology do you think is worth a splurge? Let us know in the comments!