Monday, May 19, 2003

Racing toward total fitness

Our freelancer steadily improves her endurance

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

Fit City details
How's your Fit City challenge coming? For 2003, I am working with personal trainer Beryl Donenfeld to see if I can reach my fitness goals. Here is the second installment of my four-part diary chronicling my attempt to get fit.


One month into my new regimen, Beryl gives me the "body fat" tester again. This time it's 33 percent (up from 31 percent just four days earlier). I am officially obese.

Personal trainer Beryl Donenfeld instructs Llee Sivitz during her spinning class at Midtown Health & Fitness, Columbia Township.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |

• Llee Sivitz is a freelance writer specializing in fitness, and the parent of two teenage sons. She has an active interest in healthy lifestyle topics and is rapidly approaching senior citizen status. You can hear her interviewed on WVXU-FM's ( 91.7) Fit radio show, at noon June 30.
• Beryl Donenfeld is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and lifestyles and weight management consultant. She is spinning director at Midtown Health & Fitness and has spoken at the Speaking of Women's Health Conference in Cincinnati. She recently filmed an exercise segment for Lifetime cable.
Sivitz's fitness goals:
• Increase strength, endurance, flexibility
• Improve core strength and posture
• Avoid injury
• Run the six-mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
• Lose 20 pounds (new goal)
Sivitz's exercise schedule:
• Monday - One-hour "Ballistics" class (using free weights, exercise ball, step, tubes)
• Tuesday - one-mile jog
• Wednesday - One-hour strength training at gym (sometimes with Donenfeld)
• Thursday - One-hour spinning class
• Friday - 45-minute advanced aerobics tape
• Saturday - 40-minute stretch routine
• Sunday - four-mile walk/jog
Exercise ball class is really hard. Is this because I haven't exercised in three days, or because I'm inflating like an exercise ball?

Amazingly, it's single-digit weather and I'm in spinning class at 8:30 a.m. I hop up and down on the bike, trying to speed up and keep pushing. I make it through the one-hour class and collapse over the handlebars. Beryl announces, "This was a moderate class today. No one should feel spent."

At my gym appointment, she zeros in on my weak spots. I work hard, grunting as I lift 30 pounds on the weight machines, and soon break into a sweat. (But I feel great afterward.)


What? I look forward to working out? Several people at the club say I look great. I compare myself to some ideal in my head. I have a long way to go.

I'm running the two-mile "Labor of Love" race on Valentine's Day at Northern Kentucky University. I call Beryl for advice. How should I train?

"Have you ever run before?" she asks. No. She suggests I do a one-minute run and walk the rest of the two-mile distance, and increase my run by one minute each day.

At exercise ball class I'm not able to push myself as I usually do. Beryl says that's typical when adding a new workout. My endurance should improve over time.

I try to exercise at the gym without her. I barely break a sweat by the time I'm done. So much for me working me. I surmise that personal trainers are worth the money.

On my two-month fitness "anniversary" I jog the two-mile Labor of Love race in 23 minutes, 5 seconds.


I'm training for the four-mile Hyde Park Blast race on July 4, using Beryl's training method and increasing my total distance to four miles.

I notice I have no overhead strength in my arms. Beryl says that's not unusual for women. We hardly use those muscles. She says to keep working on it and take my time so I don't get injured.

Most people quit exercising in the first three months. Congratulations to me, and thanks, Beryl!


I move like a slug in exercise ball class. My extra weight is making it harder. I decide to lose 20 pounds.

At spinning class I try to keep my heart rate in the "target zone" - 75 to 85 percent of my maximum. My heart rate wants to climb. Beryl says as I become more conditioned I will be able to work harder and stay in my target.

But I am officially keeping up in the class. At one point my body feels like a machine, working perfectly and effortlessly. Beryl says that feeling is called being "in the zone." Amazing!


As a tune-up for the Blast, I complete my first 5K (3.1-mile) race at the Lebanon Elks Lodge Derby Dash, averaging an 111/4-minute mile. I get a plaque for coming in first (and perhaps only) in my age group.

My body fat is back to 31 percent. I've lost eight pounds. My resting heart rate is 68.

I may just try running the five-mile Memorial Day Race at Lunken Airport!

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