Fitness – Are You in it For the Long Term?

Are Your Fitness Goals Lifelong?

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed.

PrimeTime Fitness, Inc.

 I am often asked if the membership at PrimeTime Fitness grows in typical gym fashion – peaking during the new year as people make their resolutions to lose weight and get in shape, and just before summer, when bathing suits begin to be pulled from the depths of dresser drawers.

My answer usually surprises those who ask.  PrimeTime Fitness isn’t like most gyms, as our membership is consistent throughout the year.  True, summertime often finds our members traveling and not in the gym as often, but guests hoping to maintain their routine while vacationing tend to make up for the void. Aside from that, our membership remains fairly steady year-round.

People tend to be puzzled by this untypical consistency in a gym.  But it makes sense:  PrimeTime members and clients aren’t there to achieve certain weight-loss goals or to look great for a special occasion.  Instead, they are there because fitness is a daily habit.  Just like brushing their teeth, exercising is just something they do!  PrimeTimers know that staying active needs to be a lifestyle, not a short-term commitment to achieve an immediate goal – although several people do reach those smaller goals in their lifelong quest to become (and stay!) healthy and fit.

Why aim for a lifestyle change, as opposed to a short-term goal?  Part of the answer lies in what those of us in the fitness industry refer to as “the principle of reversibility.”

So you hit the gym hard for eight weeks or so to get in shape for that special occasion, to look great in an outfit, or to reach your target weight.  Good for you – you reached your goal, and now you look and feel great!  It’s time to take a break from the gym, right? Your body deserves the rest!

You couldn’t be more wrong.  Although you lost fat and gained muscle during your attempt to reach your goal, once you stop, that muscle growth quickly reverses and you begin to lose strength at about half the rate at which you gained it.  So after eight weeks of hard work and hours in the gym, about half the strength you gained will be gone in another eight weeks unless you continue to perform the appropriate exercises.  And since your muscle mass makes up your fat-burning “machine,” with half your muscle strength you‘ll be putting the fat pounds right back on.

So perhaps it’s time to take a hard, realistic look at your fitness goals.  Are they long-lasting goals that you can stick with for years to come, like our PrimeTimers and their workout regimens?  Or, once you reach your goal, will your old behaviors and patterns quickly return?  If your reasons for exercising are short-term (like a special event), then your success will likely be short-term as well.


Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Since 2000, PrimeTime Fitness has catered to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or

Sleep Matters!

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed.

PrimeTime Fitness, Inc.


A Google search for “sleep” makes it clear . . . the top trending searches include “sleep for better performance,” “sleep, obesity, and exercise,” “sleep protects the brain,” and other such phrases connecting sleep to improved health and wellness.  Ask anyone who has been lucky enough to experience a few good night’s sleep and they will tell you they might as well have discovered a wonder drug!

You are probably tired of hearing it – the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep.  Sure, there are some folks out there who claim to get five or six hours of the nighttime shut-eye and function just fine.  Most of us do not fall into that category.  Listen to your body – are you hungry throughout the day?  A little more irritable than usual?  Do you find yourself reaching for yet another cup of caffeine to stay focused and be productive?  Do you often feel the need to nap?  These may all be signals that your body is sending, imploring you to hit the hay earlier and get more zzzz’s.

It’s no secret that sleep is becoming more of a concern in our society . . . sleep studies are becoming more prevalent, devices and apps now track not only your hours of shut-eye but also the quality of your sleep, and athletic teams are even hiring sleep consultants to help their athletes sleep better.  Along with the current trend of clean eating, “clean sleeping” is a new philosophy that prioritizes not only the amount of sleep you get, but also the quality of your zz’s.  It involves putting your work away, waiting to respond to emails, and making your need for good rest a priority.  Everything else can wait until morning.

What’s the big deal about sleep?  Well, one small example of the benefits was demonstrated in a recent study of Stanford University athletes.  Football players who experienced a good night’s sleep improved their 40-yard dash times by 2.1%.  Basketball players improved their free throw and 3-point shooting accuracy by 9% and 9.2%, respectively.  Elite athletes often aim for even more than nine hours of sleep to allow the body to recover between hard workouts.

So you’re not an elite athlete?  You still need the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep!  Why?  Along with eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, sleep needs to be a part of your fitness plan.  No matter how good your diet is, or how good your exercise program is, neither are beneficial if your sleep patterns are off.  According to an ACE (American Council on Exercise) blog post by Chris Freytag, “a lack of sleep leads to a slew of negatives, including weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, lower immune-system response, premature aging and impaired thinking.” When we are sleep deprived, we reach for snacks to keep our energy levels high.  Also, our hormones are disturbed and those responsible for making us feel hungry or full are out of whack . . . meaning we tend to eat more.  Lack of sleep is also a primary cause of car accidents, with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reporting an estimated 250,000 sleep-related traffic accidents each year.  Our thinking becomes fuzzy and judgment is affected, clouding our decision-making skills.

What makes sleep so important?  Just like your cell phone, your body needs to be recharged daily.  Following Stage 1 sleep (in which your eyes are closed and you are easily awakened), and Stage 2 (your heart rate slows, breathing becomes deeper, and body temperature drops, preparing for “Deep Sleep”), Stage 3 of the sleep cycle is the “Restorative Sleep” stage, in which your nervous system repairs and recovers, energy is restored, and new memories and information are processed.  Deprive yourself of enough of this stage, and your batteries aren’t 100% recharged.  These three stages, known as non-REM, or NREM sleep, can each last from 5 to 15 minutes, and are followed by REM sleep, when heart rate and breathing quicken and deep dreams occur.  Shorting yourself of any of these stages can lead to a less than satisfactory night’s sleep!

Some tips to encourage a good night’s sleep:

  • Try sticking to a set schedule. As tempting as it is to sleep in on the weekends, try not to overdo it.
  • Make your bedroom a “sanctuary” that is conducive to sleep. Most people sleep better in total darkness, and in cooler temperatures.
  • Choosing the right mattress, sheets, pillows and comforter can dramatically improve your comfort and quality of sleep, so make sure you think your bed is comfortable.
  • Skip caffeine after 5 p.m. and skip alcohol as it can disrupt your sleep.
  • Unplug – avoid screentime for at least an hour before bedtime. The glare and lights from your screen or device can affect your sleep, but also the mental stimulation discourages relaxation.
  • Have a winding down routine at night, beginning about 30 minutes before you turn out the lights. Try some relaxation techniques, journaling, reading, or a light stretching sequence.
  • Can’t sleep? Quit counting sheep – it’s mentally engaging.   Instead, picture your favorite relaxing, tranquil spot.
  • Escaping to your favorite island still doesn’t lull you to sleep? Get out of bed and read, work on your taxes, or write a letter.  Taking a break from trying to sleep may be just what you need.  Just don’t get on the computer and check your Facebook news feed!
  • Silence your smartphone. Better yet, keep it out of your bedroom.
  • Avoid doing anything you consider remotely stressful in your bedroom—like work.

For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, check out!

Good night, everyone – I’m going to bed!


Meredith Nelson, M.Ed., is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Now located just across the causeway at 1558 Ben Sawyer Boulevard, PrimeTime Fitness caters to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or


Skipping the Gym Because You’re Stressed?

NOT a good idea!


Here I sit.  All alone in the gym.  It’s a Wednesday, usually one of the busier days of the week.  But today?  The only ones who made an appearance, save a few diligent souls that I can count on one hand, are those who actually scheduled a workout with a trainer.  The usual folks who workout on their own – with no appointment, no one waiting for them to show up, no reservation for a Group Workout?  Nope – they aren’t here.


It just so happens that today is also the day following the 2016 Presidential elections.  Perhaps there were a few voter return parties that kept you up too late, or maybe you are at home contemplating the fate of our country during the next four years.  Either way, I do believe that this Election Day had an unusual effect on many people’s workout routine on November 9, and may have prevented you from getting in your daily dose of fitness as well.  Whether it’s because your candidate didn’t win and you are worried about the fate of the grand ol’ US of A, or perhaps the presidential election didn’t cause you to worry nearly as much as who is representing us in Washington, or maybe you just tuned out of the political atmosphere altogether and the thought of spending the next six weeks listening to Christmas music is what stresses you out the most . . . regardless of the reason, the next few weeks will be trying ones for many of us.  Well, guess what – now is NOT the time to neglect your workouts!


My dear fitness enthusiasts, I hate to tell you, but recent research shows that skipping your workout because you are stressed is NOT a good idea!  According to a recent study, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t just affect your mental state—it stresses out your body too, increasing your blood pressure, blood sugar, and possibly even your cholesterol. Working out actually helps boost your mood and lessens these cardiovascular risks. So even though most of us workout less when our brains are fried, those are actually the times we most need to get some exercise!


Bottom line?  I’ll spare you the research jargon.  Higher LDL (the bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, and total metabolic risk factors (high blood sugar, blood pressure, etc) were found in study participants with high stress scores.  Better cardio-respiratory fitness may provide some protection against these effects of high chronic stress.


So – even though most of us seem to workout less when we’re feeling overwhelmed, those are the very times we need to hit the gym the most!

Fitness Myths Busted by Local Fitness Pros

Meredith Nelson, PrimeTime Fitness


As fitness professionals, the staff at PrimeTime Fitness often hears what we consider “fitness myths” that drive us crazy!  It often seems that people want to eat that magic food that will rev up their metabolism, do that one exercise that will tone a specific spot, or one-click to purchase the latest internet hot product.

Although there are many more myths that we often hear, these are some of the PrimeTime staff favorites to bust (in no particular order)!

  1. Myth: “I don’t have time to workout!”

Busted by Meredith Nelson, owner, personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor

Truth:  We hear excuses all the time.  Everyday.  Family responsibilities, phone calls that run over, meetings you can’t miss, repairmen coming to fix something ….. anything can interfere with your workout.

You set aside time for important appointments, and you make time with family and friends.  Granted, some things cannot be avoided. Kids get sick and meetings can run late.  But make an appointment with yourself or with your trainer, and try not to break it (you wouldn’t cancel an appointment with your boss or client, would you?).  Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself first – then you’ll be at your best to take care of everyone else!

No, it’s not selfish – it’s smart.  Successful entrepreneurs, good parents, and high-powered CEO’s often realize that putting themselves first for an hour or so a day is good not only for themselves but contributes to the happiness of their families and success of their businesses as well.


  1. Myth: “Lifting weights will make me big and bulky.”

Busted by John Sistare, personal trainer

Truth:  Lifting weights builds muscle mass.  And yes, you DO want your muscle mass to increase.  Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more of an advantage you have in your weight loss efforts.  Yes, some people do appear “bulky” when they lift weights regularly.  This usually happens when one takes in more calories than they burn, in which case the big and beautiful muscles remain hidden by layers of fat.  It’s absolutely imperative to burn the fat as well as increase muscle mass (and watch your calorie count!), otherwise those muscles stay covered up where no one can see them.


  1. Myth: “All those yoga twists will detox my body.”

Busted by Rachel Glowacki, yoga instructor

Truth: Not exactly! There is actually no scientific evidence to support that yoga twists detox your body. Your body is an amazing piece of equipment that can usually get rid of the toxins you take in on its own.  Your liver and lymphatic system have the job of cleansing your body of toxins; however, deep breathing during the twists may stimulate the detoxification process. But if you want to truly detox your body, drink lots and lots of water to flush your system. When in doubt, just check the color of your urine, if it’s clear, then you are in the clear.  Of course, you can also decrease the toxic load on your body by reducing the amount of toxins you put into it!  Try to replace packaged foods with nutrient-dense whole and unprocessed foods like nuts, fruits, vegetables, ancient grains, and seeds.


  1. Myth: Muscle weighs more than fat.

Busted by Julie Nestler, indoor cycling instructor

Truth:  This one is easy to explain… the truth is, a pound of muscle weighs just as much as a pound of fat.  The kicker, however, is that a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat.  So if you lose a pound of fat, and replace it with a pound of muscle, your measurements will be smaller.  Therefore it’s very possible, with proper diet and exercise, to weigh the same but look trimmer.


Then there’s the hype about cardio…..

  1. Myth: There is no better cardio than running for weight loss.

Busted by Sean Highsmith, personal trainer

Truth:  While this may be true if you are a runner, for many people, running is just unenjoyable.  Whether they find it boring, hard, or painful, some people just plain prefer not to run.  Never fear, if you fall into the category of those who don’t want to, can’t, or wouldn’t be found running unless begin chased, there ARE other ways to get the benefits of cardio exercise.

Full body exercises such as rowing, burpees, dual-action bikes (bikes that you pedal with your legs and also push/pull with your arms), and cross-country skiing are all great ways to reap cardio benefits that can even surpass those of running.  PrimeTime Fitness trainer Sean is a fan of the kettlebell swing, which, when done properly, works the large muscle groups of glutes and quadriceps, taking your heart and lungs into overdrive.


  1. Myth: “Working out in the ‘fat burning zone’ is the best way to lose weight.”

Busted by Karien Harwell, personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor

Truth:  This one is a matter of simple math.  When you work within your “fat-burning zone” of 65 – 75% of your maximum heart rate (or those flashing red lights indicating “fat-burn” on the cardio equipment in the gym), you are burning a greater percentage – up to 50% – of calories from fat.  At a higher intensity, your body may burn only 35% of calories needed from fat.  BUT . . . the total calories burned at higher intensity is more – WAY more – than that burned within the “fat-burning” range.  So not only do you burn more total calories by working harder, but also more of those calories are from fat.  An added benefit of working beyond the “fat-burning” zone . . . you burn more calories in less time!


  1. Myth: “Cardio exercise is the best way to lose weight”

Busted by Susan Cox and John Sistare, personal trainers

Truth:  If you are trying to lose weight, you just cannot neglect resistance training.  Period.  Cardio exercises like running, cycling, and the elliptical do burn calories (and the more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn – go back and read #6 again!)  However, more muscle mass makes your body a more efficient fat-burning machine.  The more muscle you have, the more chances you have in winning the weight loss battle.  Workouts like PrimeTime’s Boot Camp and Total Body Circuit combine high intensity cardio exercise with resistance training in one session – now THAT will burn calories and continue to ramp up your metabolism even after the workout is over!



Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Since 2000, PrimeTime Fitness has catered to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith and her staff can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or

Year-End Resolutions

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed.

PrimeTime Fitness, Inc.


According to a recent study by a Cornell University professor, the average American is now at their lowest weight of the year.  However, that’s all about to change, as the study showed that it’s highly likely for numbers on the scale to begin to creep upwards around the end of this month.  Continuing to climb throughout the holidays, your weight will probably peak, and be at its highest, around New Year’s.  Even more disheartening than that is that those extra pounds tend to stick around for an average of five months.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way – it is possible to take matters into your own hands right now, avoid those holiday pounds, and prove the study researchers wrong!  Although we traditionally make resolutions to establish new behaviors in the new year, perhaps we should make those resolutions now, so that we get 2017 started off on the right foot!

 That’s right – now is the time to establish a goal to make it successfully through the holidays without extra weight and added stress.  It’s time to make “Year-End Resolutions” to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and manage stress over the next ten weeks!  Here are some helpful tips on how you can take small steps towards achieving your “Year-End Resolutions:”


Eat right –

Take an extra hour over the weekend, or whenever you have (or can make) some extra time, to plan your meals for the week.  Prepare a week’s worth of ready-made breakfasts (ask me about my overnight oatmeal-in-a-jar!), stock up on healthy snacks like cut up fruit or veggies and hummus, and make a list of ingredients to prepare 3 or 4 easy-to-make meals that you can double and have enough for leftovers.  Make sure you drink lots of water – especially at parties when it becomes easy to forgo water for alcoholic beverages.

Exercise –

Put at least five days of exercise “appointments” in your day planner, Google calendar, or reminders every week.  Keep those appointments just like you would with your hair stylist or physician.  Visually seeing your workout plan allows you to see where there are any holes or gaps of time without exercise. Be sure to specify your workout for the day – for example “run,” “gym workout,” or “yoga.”  This also helps you see if your workouts are lacking in variety!

Get enough sleep –

I just discovered “Bedtime” on my IPhone 6S.  After setting my wake-up time – usually 5:00 a.m. – my IPhone establishes a “bedtime” based on how many hours of sleep I want to get (I try for at least seven hours nightly).  A reminder is set to go off 15, 30, or 60 minutes prior to bedtime, letting me know it’s time to wind down.

Manage stress –

Start your holiday shopping now and get a head start on the rush.  At the very least, make a list of people you want to buy gifts for.  Chances are you will add to it before the holidays arrive, and decrease your chances of forgetting someone until the last minute.

Despite your best efforts, the holidays are sure to bring on stress at some point.  Have a plan to manage your anxieties, whether it’s scheduling down-time with family, getting a massage, or making sure you get to that yoga class you love. (I’ve discovered the site for those times I just can’t make it to a class or don’t want to spend over an hour in the studio).

An extra tip –

I don’t usually encourage weighing yourself every day, but if you are serious about avoiding the average holiday weight gain of 7 – 10 pounds, start to weigh yourself regularly, or at least three or four times a week until the first of the year.  You will see small changes as they occur and can take immediate steps to do better.  No surprises come January 1!


Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Now located just across the causeway at 1558 Ben Sawyer Boulevard, PrimeTime Fitness caters to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or

Heavy or Light – How Much Should I Lift?

Headlines from the July 20 issue of the New York Times “Well” section stated “in a study, participants’ muscles got bigger and stronger whether they lifted heavy or light weights — as long as they lifted until they were tired.”

For years, exercisers and gym-goers have adhered to the practice of lifting heavy weights with fewer repetitions to build muscle, or lifting lighter weights for more reps to tone.

Note:  This column is purely anecdotal, based on personal experience.  What you are about to read is NOT based on scientific research, but simply my own life history – which includes losing 30 pounds, working out daily, becoming a somewhat competitive athlete, and maintaining a healthy body  composition of fat to muscle.

In my 20+ years as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I have heard many truths and many common misconceptions.  Probably more of the latter.  Here are a few of both:

Common misconception:  Lifting heavy weights makes you “bulky.”

Fact:  Have you seen me?  I’m not what most people consider “bulky.”

Another fact:  I lift heavy weights.  Sometimes the weight is so heavy that I cannot perform more than 8 – 10 repetitions.

Takeaway:  Lifting heavy weights does not make one “bulky.”

To make you think:  What makes people bulky when they lift heavy weights is the layers of fat on top of all that beautiful, strong muscle.  Too many people forget, don’t know, or choose to ignore that diet is 80% or more of being fit.  You can work harder than a workhorse to build muscle, but if you don’t do the aerobic fat-burning activity to lose the layers of fat on top of it, and neglect to monitor your caloric intake, that muscle remains covered by fat, giving the appearance of being bulky.


Common misconception:  Lifting light weights “tones” muscle.

Fact: One doesn’t “tone.”  “Toned” simply describes the appearance of lean, solid muscle as opposed to a “soft” appearance.  You can strengthen a muscle, but “toning” just doesn’t  happen.  “Toning” means you can see muscle definition – usually those who say “I want to have muscle tone and not bulk up” are in search of definition as opposed to large muscle mass.

Fact:  the average person will not put on huge amounts of muscle mass.  That happens with hours (HOURS) in the gym daily, mega-doses of protein (in real food form or supplements), and lifting really really really heavy weights.  We’re talking Olympic power lifts, people.  NOT what the average gym-goer will be doing.

Takeaway:  Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights.

To make you think:  Lifting heavy weights builds muscle.  You need muscle.  Lifting heavy weights burns fat.  You don’t need fat (not too much of it).

So – what about this “New York Times” column advocating lifting light weights?

Well, personal note:  after having back surgery in 2012, I was told not to lift more than five pounds for several weeks.  For those of you who know me, this was a death sentence.  But I chose to obey doctor’s orders AND keep my fitness intact.  So I lifted.  Light weights.  Over.  And over.  And over.  I took 2-3 pound dumbbells and pushed them up over my head hundreds of times.  I did countertop pushups (as opposed to full-fledged push-ups on the floor) for minutes at a time.  I did bicep curls with small weights so many times I lost count.  I set my stopwatch for five minutes and did body weights squats.

And I got SORE!

My point?  Doing light weights for lots of reps made a difference.  It challenged me.  My body is so used to lifting heavy weights (and that’s not bad . . . it’s just what I do) that lifting heavy weights made tiny microtears in my muscle, just like lifting heavier weights.

The takeaway: Do something that challenges you.  Whether that’s lifting heavier than you thought possible, for just a few repetitions, or lifting light weights, for more reps than you can count.  (BUT you have to do it until you fatigue and cannot perform one more repetition with good form.)  I promise you, the difference will get your attention.

Downside of lifting heavy weights:  There comes a point where form is sacrificed.  You don’t want to go there (think “I’m injured!”).  Stay within your limits of good technique.

Downside of lifting light weights to fatigue: It takes a long time. If you’re retired, with lots of time on your hands, or simply looking for ways to stay in the gym longer, lifting light weights for 20-30 reps is for you!

Another note:  There is a perhaps scientific difference that occurs at the cellular and/or hormonal level when lifting heavy vs light weights.  I don’t know exactly what that may be – perhaps testosterone increases, capillaries grow, and mitochondria are formed.  All I know is that, for the average person interested in improving  their fitness, the body adapts to stress.  For stress to occur, we have to undergo external demands.  Your body knows a stressor in any and all forms – whether it’s a big load for a short time or a small load for a long period…. Your body will react.  In a good way.  So get out there and challenge your body in one way or another!

After all, if it challenges you, it will change you.

So to answer the question “Heavy or Light” – the answer is YES!

To read the entire NYT article, go to


Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Since 2000, PrimeTime Fitness has catered to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or

Take the Stairs to Better Fitness . .
And help save lives by improving lung health and prevent lung disease!

by Meredith Nelson,  for the Island Eye News

It is hard for some to believe . . . I am an avid runner, cyclist, gym owner, personal trainer . . . and asthmatic?? Many people don’t realize that I grew up suffering from asthma. Although it is not nearly as severe anymore, I still suffer from the occasional asthma attack. Fortunately, as a child I participated in a program offered by the American Lung Association for children with asthma. The program helped me recognize the initial signs of an attack, as well as how to manage attacks with medication and certain breathing techniques.

Fast-forward many years later, and I now have a chance to repay the American Lung Association for improving my quality of life. Beginning with the inaugural climb in 2010, I have competed in the ALA’s North Charleston Fight For Air Stairclimb at the North Charleston Coliseum every year (with the exception of one year thanks to a disc injury). Ever since that first climb, PrimeTime Fitness has put together a team to compete in the event and raise money for the ALA.

Training every year for the Fight For Air Climb, I have come to appreciate the benefits of running stairs. Much more taxing than just running, and even harder than running hills, stairclimbing builds strength and power without the impact. It may sound daunting, but despite the references to being “more taxing” and “even harder” than running, climbing stairs is convenient and takes about half as much time to get the same benefits. So you can get a much better workout in a fraction of the time! Not to mention that just about anyone can do it (the youngest participant in the climb last year was 7 years old, the oldest were two gentlemen 73 years young!). And since climbing stairs is low-impact, it is actually great for those with hip and/or knee issues (just be careful on the descents… take the elevator or go down at an angle, reducing impact).

Here are some interesting “Stair Fitness Facts,” courtesy of the American Lung Association:

• Stair climbing burns about twice as many calories as any other sport or activity.
• Because it is a grueling sport, stair climbing requires less time to do the same intensity of a workout. For example, if you run for 30 minutes, the same workout intensity could be achieved with 15 minutes of stair climbing.
• Stair climbing can be a total body workout, especially when you pull your body up using the handrails.
• Want to show off an amazing pair of legs on the beach this summer? Stair climbing builds muscle mass in the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Bam.
• Running stairs uses all energy systems, and is therefore both an aerobic and anaerobic sport. It requires endurance, sprints, and muscular strength.
• Stair climbing is excellent for cross-training. Many athletes find stair climbing to be beneficial as part of their training.
• If done regularly, stair climbing increases heart and lung function, therefore improving your overall endurance.

Now for a few fun facts about stair-climbing:
• You will use 9.6x more energy climbing stairs than you do while sitting down.
• Stair Climbing is actually an international sport and has a complete global schedule with the goal of becoming an Olympic sport. Check out!

The PrimeTime team has their sights set on a repeat victory in this year’s event on July 23. We would love to win the title of not only the fastest team, but also the most money raised . . . and you can help! Donate to our team, sponsor the event, or even name a flight. For more information on how you can help the PrimeTime team bring home another trophy, contact… And know that your funds go a long way in helping people like me overcome some kind of lung disease, quit smoking, or manage their disease!

Balance – Don’t Leave Home Without It!

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed.

PrimeTime Fitness, Inc.

Maintaining balance is critical for us as we age, as most seniors experience falls due to a loss of balance.  Even a little tumble can result in broken bones, leading to a major disruption in life.  What would have resulted in bruises and bumps in our earlier years can end in dramatic lifestyle changes in an older adult.  Such falls often occur on uneven surfaces, slippery surfaces, and when getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

Younger adults usually have a much quicker reaction time and can often correct a loss of balance before a fall actually occurs.  With aging, we naturally experience a loss of muscle mass and therefore a loss of strength, making it even more important to practice healthy habits including regular exercise.  Many seniors can benefit from not only consistent strength-training and aerobic exercise, but also specific balance training.  I work with older adults with a wide range of abilities – some seniors are very active, while others are quite frail.  Because of this, I find that balance training is most effectively done either individually or in very small groups.

I often begin a workout with dynamic balance movements.  Active, dynamic stretching; weight-shifting; gait practice – these are all effective ways to acclimate the body for the movements to come during the workout, and also help to “wake up” the neuromuscular pathways that signal the body to ease into motion.  After a dynamic warm-up, we move into a strength training routine which differs for the individual based on their specific weaknesses.  The strength training segment usually contains lower body exercises which may focus on the feet, ankles, and calves, as well as the large muscle groups of thighs and glutes.  Core stability is a must, and we often include upper body strengthening exercises – either mixed in to provide for a built-in rest for the lower body, or as a separate component altogether.

Static stretching at the end is often enjoyed by our clients, and not only allows the client to enjoy the benefits of the stretches, but a period of mental relaxation as well.

Here is an example of one balance exercise, and how it may be modified as you progress:

Standing Balance

Holding onto a chair or sturdy rail if needed, balance on one foot for up to 10 seconds.

Progress to 15 seconds, then 20.

Easy?  Try it with your eyes closed (be sure to stay near your chair)!


Mastered the Standing Balance exercise?  Try this one:

Walking Heel-to-Toe

Place the heel of one foot six inches to one foot in front of the toes of the other foot.

Taking a step, move your back foot to the front, again placing the heel six inches to one foot in front of the toes of the other foot.

Repeat for up to 20 steps.

Easy?  Try placing each heel so close that it touches, or almost touches, the toes of the other foot.  Be sure to keep your gaze focused on a spot ahead of you.

Got this one down too?  See if you can do the next one!


Balance Walk

With arms out to sides at shoulder height for balance, pick a spot ahead of you and focus on it.

Begin to walk in a straight line.

As you take a step, raise your back leg and pull it forward to balance, pausing for a second before placing that foot on the floor and taking the next step.  Try to balance with your knee at hip level.

Repeat for up to 20 steps.

Easy?  Try holding the balance position up to 5 seconds before placing each foot on the floor and taking the next step.

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a golf fitness professional, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Now located just across the causeway at 1558 Ben Sawyer Boulevard, PrimeTime Fitness caters to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or


Now that the Cooper River Bridge Run has come and gone once again, many who “got over it” will put their running shoes away for another year.  One goal down . . . check it off the bucket list . . . boast about it to friends.  For some it’s a yearly ritual, something to register for, train for (or not) for a while,  and show up on race day with 30,000+ other runners, then heavily celebrate the accomplishment afterwards at the after-party in Marion Square.

Others make the CRBR an “A” race – one of many that they complete each year, but the excitement and scale of this particular race give it top priority on the race calendar.

I myself have run for many reasons for over thirty years …. Camaraderie in group runs, to stay in shape, and for the mental escape.  I enjoy the competition and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with racing.  I have volunteered at races, which brings about an entirely different perspective as an observer and cheerleader.  For several years I served on the board of the Charleston Running Club, providing direction and leadership for the club which promotes running in our community.  And now I have taken on the task of volunteering as a “run buddy” for the Meeting Street Academy’s Run Club.

Accepting the responsibility as a “run buddy” requires that I step a little out of my comfort zone.  I run at 7:40 a.m. at the school, located downtown.  (For those of you who don’t know me, I prefer to stay on this side of the bridge, and although I’m always up at the crack of dawn, heading downtown at 7:40 a.m. is well off the radar screen!).  When I go, I’m surrounded by kids.  (Another little peek into my personal life – little people scare me.)  And I have to run . . . verrrrry . . . slooooowwwwwlllllly.  At least for me it’s slow, although if you ask the kids I’m running with, we’re running as fast as the wind!

As much as the whole MSA experience is a little out of my box, I love it.  Running with the kids, seeing them get excited about running just one more block than last the time, and watching them head into the classroom with enthusiasm at the end of Run Club, ready for reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, brings me a sense of satisfaction and joy.

On Saturday, April 16, the Meeting Street Academy Run Club will be making an appearance at the 6th Run for Adela 5K on Sullivan’s Island.  I’ll be right there in the middle of them, running with one or two of the runners.  For once, I won’t be stepping up to the front, hoping to get a spot in the lead.  I won’t be timing my splits (more on that in the next issue) or warming up with high knees and strides.  Instead, I’ll be encouraging the kids not to go out too fast, reminding them to tie their shoes, and sharing in the excitement of running what is possibly their first race.  For many of the kids, participating in races is too costly for the family to consider a priority or a regular occurrence.  But Lori LaFevre, MSA’s Run Club Coach, has made it possible for these youngsters to participate for free (with a paying adult).  And with the generosity of the race organizers, the runners’ companions may register at a discounted price.

So, if the idea of running for your own health and wellness just doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps you could join me and consider running for the benefit of someone else.  Another opportunity is with R U Running.  The brainchild of island resident Skipper Condon, R U Running is a membership organization for runners that promotes awareness of the Disabilities Foundation of Charleston County.  For a $20 annual fee, R U Running provides race discounts for signature races, a VIP tent at which you can store your gear, and a chance to win prizes at each signature race you attend.

Another organization, Racers for Pacers, exists to bring running to those who are unable to run.  Racers for Pacers is dedicated to raising funds to provide running chairs for disabled individuals who cannot run on their own.  Under the direction of Sean Glassberg, Racers for Pacers provides these individuals with the opportunity to “run” with an able-bodied runner, or pacer, on a regular basis at least once or twice per week and in local 5ks, 10ks or longer competitive runs throughout the Lowcountry.  I personally have yet to actually run as a pacer, but PrimeTime Fitness has helped purchase a chair.  I look forward to pushing a “runner” in the PrimeTime chair soon!

So whether you are running for yourself or someone else, don’t let the Cooper River Bridge Run make you a “one and done” for the year.  Consider putting forth your efforts to help out someone less fortunate, and reap the rewards for yourself as an added bonus!

For more information about Meeting Street Academy, R U Running, and Racers for Pacers, check out the following sites:

 Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, began her running career in college thirty years and thirty pounds ago, and is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant.  She still competes in 5K’s, 10K’s, ½- marathons, and stair races, and has completed six marathons.  Next on Meredith’s bucket list is a 50K. 

Certified through AFAA in Group Fitness, ACE as a Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, and TPI as a Level 3 Golf Fitness Instructor, Meredith has been bringing fitness to the East Cooper area for over twenty years.  Since 2000, PrimeTime Fitness has catered to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or

The Great Exercise Debate –

Is all this exercise really making us fat?


In the August 10 issue of TIME Magazine, columnist John Cloud expanded on his theory that exercise is the culprit making us fat. His “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” makes the assumption that the belief “if you exercise, you will lose weight” is erroneous.  Not only does he state that exercise serves no purpose in a weight loss regimen, but that exercise is actually making us fatter!

Partly because his own personal experiences support this theory – although Mr. Cloud exercises at least five days a week in the gym, he still carries more weight than he would like around his gut – and partly because, despite the increased numbers of people who say they exercise regularly, the incidence of obesity has risen dramatically, the author proclaims that the role of exercise in weight loss is “wildly overstated.”  He does, however, indicate positive effects of exercise in lowering the risk of many diseases – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and others.  Here is where his credibility ends with me, as he goes on to explain how, in his mind, exercising to lose weight is a worthless effort and waste of time.

Mr. Cloud states that the reason exercise may actually be making us fat is three-fold:

1)      Exercising stimulates hunger and causes us to overeat.

2)      By using up our allotted amount of self-control to force ourselves to spend hours in the gym, we have no willpower left with which to resist the temptation of tasty treats and snacks.

3)      We compensate for exerting so much physical activity through exercise that we reduce the amount of normal activity we get throughout the day.

This article has sparked numerous reactions and rebuttals from the fitness profession.  Researchers and academics have responded in several fitness industry journals, group exercise instructors and private trainers are mumbling, and fitness enthusiasts are questioning their efforts.  Personally, my own experiences are a testimony to the value of exercise – from physical, mental, health risk-reducing, and weight maintenance standpoints.


Let’s take a look at Mr. Cloud’s three assumptions introduced above.

1)  Exercising stimulates hunger and causes us to overeat.

The first part of this is true.  Exercise does – and should – stimulate us to eat.  Although many people report a temporary suppressed appetite immediately following exercise, there is no way we can burn calories without experiencing hunger.  But it’s WHAT we eat after we exercise, and how much of it, that causes the problem.  The problem is that many of us cannot figure out exactly what it is that we need to consume following exercise.  For example, many exercisers follow their workout with a bottle of Gatorade, not realizing that many bottles contain more than one serving of the beverage inside, and therefore extra calories may be consumed.

So, although the Gatorade is effective in replacing lost electrolytes (which shouldn’t even be necessary unless one is exercising in extreme heat, or for over an hour), one would be better off consuming a small amount of complex carbohydrates in combination with a bit of protein and a trace of healthy fats (think a teaspoon of peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread, perhaps with a banana, for example) to help encourage protein synthesis and reload the muscles with glycogen, to be ready for the next workout.

Of course, the fact still remains that if one consumes more calories than one burns, the excess calories will be stored as fat.  The above “recovery meal” won’t do any good in helping one lose weight if the overall calories being taken in are more than those being burned.

2)  By using up our allotted amount of self-control to force ourselves to spend hours in the gym, we have no self-control left with which to resist the temptation of tasty treats and snacks.

This is true to some extent – when we are very strict on ourselves in some areas, it may become more difficult to be regimented and disciplined in another area.  That is why I recommend that everything – exercising, eating, and drinking – be done in moderation. For a healthy, permanent weight loss, we don’t need to force ourselves to spend hours in the gym.  We need to increase the low intensity exercise we do throughout the day.  This is what burns fat.  High-intensity exercise burns muscle glycogen and is good for improving performance – for those that are interested in performing a particular sport – for and burning calories.  But low intensity activity – and lots of it – is key in losing fat.

So that addresses the issue of self-control needed to spend hours in the gym.  But what about the self-control you need to say no to that muffin that would be so delicious with your morning coffee?  That candy bar when you’re hungry?  Even that tasty chocolate protein drink?

In my humble opinion, the ability to resist such temptations is based on an individual’s education of nutrition, understanding of portion control, and the ability to think ahead and plan.  By reading labels and having an understanding of calories from carbohydrates, fat, and protein, along with the list of ingredients and what you can actually learn from that list, one can make informed decisions about what they are putting in their mouths.  Pre-determining the portion size you will eat – eating half the muffin, or dividing your restaurant dinner into two portions and taking half of it home as opposed to eating everything on the plate – can drastically reduce the number of calories you take in.  And by simply putting some thought into your day, scheduling meals, and having something available to eat in those “emergency” situations where you may be stuck in traffic or don’t have time for lunch, can thwart the temptation to head for the drive-through.

3)  We compensate for exerting so much physical activity through exercise that we reduce the amount of normal activity we get throughout the day.

Well, once again, my humble opinion is quite different from the author’s.  Au contraire, Mr. Cloud.  Do you really think that if you gave up your hour at the gym everyday, you would be less inclined to sit watching television in the evening?  Or that you would spend less time at the computer compiling your thoughts for next week’s article?  Do you honestly believe that as a by-product of spending less time on the treadmill, you may  actually ride a bike to the grocery, the neighborhood pool, or even to work?

I highly doubt that.  Our society has turned into one of convenience when unnecessary.  We drive when we can walk to get there faster.  We surf channels on television instead of getting outside to walk on the beach.  We take the elevators and not the steps.  All because it takes less effort and time – not because we’ve exhausted ourselves in the gym.  In fact, most people I know who exercise regularly claim it gives them energy to keep up with their kids, require less sleep, and get more done.

In closing I would like to point out perhaps the most substantial argument against Mr. Cloud’s assertion, and that is the findings of years of research performed by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). According to the NWCR website, the study is the “largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.”  The NWCR was developed in 1994 in efforts to identify the characteristics of individuals who had succeeded in achieving and maintaining a weight-loss of at least 30 pounds. (On a personal note, I myself have been a participant study since the inception of the NWCR.  The findings, some of which you will see below, mirror my own strategies and efforts in losing and maintaining my weight.) Annual questionnaires are distributed to participants to help determine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of the subjects, as well as the strategies they use to maintain their weight losses.  Over the last fifteen years, 94% of the study participants report that part of their success has been due to an increase in physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking (another plug for the above-mentioned low-intensity activity).  Additionally, 90% of the participants report exercising for an hour every day.

Of course, proper nutrition is crucial as well – 98% of the NWCR participants indicate that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight. The bottom line is that weight loss and maintenance are a balance of calories in and calories out.  Exercise is a necessary part of weight loss, but it doesn’t stop there.  Daily activity – whether throughout the day or for an hour in the gym – is important for not only losing weight, but also for overall physical and mental health and wellness.

Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, on Sullivan’s Island.  Offering group fitness classes, PrimeTime Spin, private yoga, personal training, and monthly gym membership, Meredith divides her time between the gym on Sullivan’s Island and limited in-home training on Daniel Island, where she resides along with her husband Mark.  Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 883-0101, or