Shape Up: Seasons Change

  Hey what’s good everybody?  This is Darrell Butler, your new AHH Fitness specialist.  Just to give you a little background, I’m a certified personal trainer and strength coach with the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  I’m also the founder of Industrial Strength & Performance (I.S.P Fitness) and have trained at facilities throughout the nation. […]


Hey what’s good everybody?  This is Darrell Butler, your new AHH Fitness specialist.  Just to give you a little background, I’m a certified personal trainer and strength coach with the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  I’m also the founder of Industrial Strength & Performance (I.S.P Fitness) and have trained at facilities throughout the nation. A funny thing seems to happen each year at my gym as the weather starts getting warmer, right around the beginning of April. 


The “Oh snap!” alarm seems to suddenly go off in everyone’s head as they realize that they can’t hide behind hoodies and bubble jackets for much longer. The gym becomes packed with all these fresh new faces pressing weight, burning up the treadmill and banging out crunches like there’s no tomorrow. All in hopes of securing that perfect beach body just in time for the summer – and I’m happy to say that many of them actually pull it off!  But then, just like a summer love, they eventually fade away by the end of August. They go from “gym rats” to “gym grizzly bears” as they go into hibernation for the winter.


You know, as a certified trainer, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone reach his or her fitness goals. On the flipside, it’s just as sad seeing all of that progress fade away.  Despite the prevailing misconception that leads many to believe otherwise, I’m here to tell you that you can keep that summer body all year long; and it’s not as hard as you might think. I mean, just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean you have to completely stop caring about your body. Your jacket is meant to have extra layers and pockets….not your stomach.


Now, before we can change this behavior of losing ground during the winter, we should first address some of the most common reasons for why it happens. The most obvious would be the change in temperature itself.


If you live in Dirty Jerz like I do, or in another state that has all four seasons, it’s about to get cold out there…really cold.  For most people, that usually puts an end to long walks in the park or leisurely bicycle and skateboard rides.  Softball leagues come to an end, tennis courts and golf courses close and community swimming pools are shut down.  It practically becomes a chore just to leave the house – so many don’t unless it’s absolutely necessary. 


Let’s face it, people are naturally more active in the summer and are likely to spend extra time walking outside instead of driving everywhere.  As a result, it’s easier to get away with the occasional barbeque or ice cream cone.  With all of the additional calories burned during the typical summer day, slip-ups like this have much less of an impact than they would during a lazy winter day spent indoors.  However for most people, junk foods become more than just an occasional slip-up during the winter.  Combine that with a decrease in physical activity and you have a recipe for disaster. 


It’s a simple formula actually, if you consume more calories than you burn off each day, you’re going to gain weight.  Unfortunately, the way the US calendar of events is laid out at the end of the year, it’s easy to fall into that trap if you’re not paying attention.  


Lets take a look at the chronological descent most people take during their transformation from two-piece to super-sized at the end of the year.


Labor Day – “Time to finish the summer strong with one last bbq – where did I put that bottle opener?”


School/Work Begins – “Damn, this ish again?  Where did I put that bottle opener?”


Football Season Begins – “Wings, chips, pizza, beer…welcome to the good life.”


Fall TV Season Begins – “Head to the gym or chill on the couch with the remote and a bag of Doritos – Deal or No Deal?”


Halloween (also my birthday, holla at cha boy!) – You know how we do people – telling your kids that you have to “check the candy” for them and then you eat all the good ish out of the bag and leave them with a bunch of pennies and candy corn.  Or you only buy candy to pass out that you want to eat then start playing “one for you….one for me” with the chocolate by the end of the night.   


Turkey day/Christmas/Holidays – Between shopping, traveling and all of that food, thoughts about the gym usually hit the backburner by this point…if they hadn’t already.  Pass the gravy…


New Years – “Oh well, I’ll start off fresh next year….”


But you see, it doesn’t have to be like this.  Sure you can’t do as much outside during the winter, but if you enjoyed playing basketball, racquetball or swimming outside, check out a local facility that has these activities indoors.  Many are free or offer discount membership programs.


Is cold weather your thing?  Try skiing, ice skating, snowboarding or maybe even shoveling your own driveway instead of hustling your neighbors kid into doing it for 20 bucks this year.


Busy at school or work?  Try taking the stairs in your building instead of the elevator or bring your own lunch to avoid ordering out each day. 


Is the game or a hot new show coming on?  Workout before it starts or alternate between doing push-ups and sit-ups during commercial breaks. Most gyms also have tv screens with headphone jacks, or invest in a digital video recorder and watch your shows whenever you want to. 


As for the holidays, it’s no secret that they’re coming so start planning around them now. By no means would I want you to miss out on all that stuffing and mashed potatoes, my point is that if you’re consistently working out on a regular basis you can do anything in moderation. If staying healthy or looking good for your spouse or significant other isn’t enough motivation (that reminds me, spouses can help provide another fun “indoor workout” during those cold winter months), I’d like for you to give yourself a realistic goal or event to work towards. 


People seem to make so much progress during the spring because they know the summer beach season is right around the corner.  We need that type of incentive during those long winter months as well.  Think about how much easier it would be to look good for the summer if you were consistent throughout the whole year instead of just for a few months?


Try planning a vacation during the winter to a warmer location to keep you motivated.  Or maybe you could partner up with friends to keep each other focused.  You can also keep summer photos in plain sight to serve as a reminder or start buying your winter clothes a size too small!


Whatever you end up doing, one thing is certain, you will not be slacking off this time around; because I’m here now to provide that proverbial kick in the ass.  Whether your goal is to lose more weight or build and shape muscle, we’re going to begin that journey right now.  It’s time for some action!


In the upcoming editions of this column, you can expect to see workout plans, nutritional advice and motivational interviews. Also feel free to share your accomplishments and questions with us as well.  Whether you’re an elite athlete or just starting off, we’re going to take you to the next level this year.  In the meantime, be sure to check out the valuable information already posted at 


Until next time, be good….or be good at it…-Darrell


PS: Along with each column I’ll also be providing a topical list of tracks to keep your workouts on point.  Here’s the inaugural batch:


1. Summer of Love (remix) – Justin Timberlake ft. Stat Quo2. Flipside – Freeway3. Good Life – Kanye West ft. T. Pain4. Time for some Action – Redman