Posts for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Summer Workout Chart

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

Summer officially begins June 20th! You may not be inclined to head to the gym this month, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a summer workout chart. Pick your category, then pick your activity — whether you’re completing chores, or spending time with friends and family, there is something for everyone.

Wash your car

Mow the lawn

Play a game of chase or tug-of-war with the dog

Paint or stain the fence

Wash the dog

Wash the house windows

Sweep the sidewalks, patio or deck

Clean out the garage & gutters

Volunteer to walk dogs from humane society each week

Ride your bike to the local farmers market

Hike to a place to pick berries or just for a picnic

Fly a kite

Toss a Frisbee

Climb a tree

Play at a water park

Rock Climb

Power skip

Road race

Ride a roller coaster

Visit the State Fair

Ride a horse

Build a sand castle or walk on a beach

Play Sand volleyball


Water Ski

Paddle board

Tread water or on your back

Rope Swing

Fly fish

Play fetch with the dog

Run through the sprinklers with the kids

Have a water balloon fight

Relay race

Sack races

Play a game with the kids: tag, flag football or Red Rover

Join a kickball league

Have a family fitness scavenger hunt

Jump rope

Power skip contest

Raise money for a local charity with a car wash

Play badminton or croquet

Watch the sunset

Play relaxing music as you cook dinner

Enjoy an outdoor concert

Eat a meal outside

Read a book in a lawn chair

Buy a hammock


What did we miss? Add your suggestions in the comments!

Safe Walking Tips

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

With the change in seasons, more people are getting outside to walk. We thought this would be a great time to remind you about best practices and safety tips for walking outside.

  • Buddy up It’s always safer to walk in groups. Walking with others is more enjoyable, and gives you a commitment, which helps you follow through with your activity goals.
  • Walk on the sidewalk – Walk on the sidewalk when possible, and walk FACING traffic so you can watch on-coming cars and cyclists.
  • Be conscious of drivers – With the many ways that drivers can be distracted, don’t assume that they know when pedestrians have the right of way. Be especially cautious around driveways, alleys, and other places where drivers are likely watching for other cars, not walkers.
  • Dress to be seen – Wear bright colored clothes, and use gear with reflective material. You’ll be prepared if it starts to get dark, and the bright colors and reflective gear helps drivers see you. Reflective tape can be attached to clothing, shoes, or leashes to make you more obvious.
  • Identify yourself – Carry your name, address, and a friend’s or relative’s phone number on the inside sole of your shoe, tied to a shoe lace, or inside your shirt, in case of an emergency where you’re unable to speak for yourself. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace if you have diabetes, an allergy to bee stings, or other conditions that could result in an emergency.
  • Don’t wear jewelry – Don’t wear jewelry or expensive items that might draw someone’s attention.
  • Use your hearing Wearing headphones can prevent you from hearing on-coming traffic, or someone coming up behind you. Consider listening with only one ear phone, so you have the other ear available to hear your surroundings.
  • Check the weather – Take steps to prepare for walking outside during the winter and summer months. Bring plenty of water with you in the heat, bring a rain jacket if there’s a chance of rain, and be aware of weather predictions in the area you’re walking.
  • Stay in touch – Carry a cell phone, or enough change to make an emergency phone call. Notify your spouse or a friend of where you’ll be, and when you anticipate returning, especially if you’re walking in an area uncommon for you.
  • Carry bear spray – If you walk in the woods or rural areas where bears or other wildlife lives, carry bear spray. They make small, hand-held sizes that don’t weigh much.

Enjoy the fresh air and all the beauty our state has to offer – your mind and body will thank you for getting out!

Tips for Joining a Gym

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

Thinking about joining a gym? Here are a few tips to get started, and to help you feel more comfortable in your new workout surroundings.

Start by doing a little research. Check out the various health clubs in your area and what they offer. Check on what credentials they require for their instructors and personal trainers. Find out if they have staff on duty in the workout areas to assist you if needed. Make sure they have facilities or programs that interest you, such as a swimming pool, indoor track, yoga classes, Zumba, etc. Make sure the contract length is a commitment that works for you.

Try it out before joining — most clubs will offer a few days to a week for a free trial. Make sure it is a good fit for you.

Find an exercise buddy — workout with a family member, friend or co-worker. A workout buddy helps you feel more comfortable in a new environment, and helps keep you accountable to go.

If possible, workout during non-peak times. The most popular times are between 5-7pm. When new to a club, working out on the weekends is a good starting place too.

Try classes or programs that are led by qualified instructors such as cycling, Zumba, rock climbing, or water aerobics. Look for beginner classes. Instructors can help monitor your form and instruct you to be safe. It is also a great place to meet people with similar interests.

Set a schedule. Put reminders on your phone. Stick to your plan like you would other important appointments.

Hire a personal trainer. Trainers can help design a safe and effective program specific to your workout goals. They are also there to motivate you every step of the way.

Have proper nutrition – don’t workout on an empty stomach. If it has been a while since you have eaten, try a pre-workout snack 30-90 minutes prior to workout. A post-workout snack may be needed too, depending on how hard you workout. Be careful with calories, and consult a nutritionist or personal trainer for snack ideas.

Wear proper clothing — try to wear clothing that “wicks.” It’s made from athletic fabric that pulls moisture away from your body, preventing chaffing. Cotton clothing will leave you feeling uncomfortable, and may make you want to quit your workouts early.

Above all, start your program in small steps and build from there. Ask for help if you need it, and find things that you enjoy so you will keep coming back. Consistency is key to seeing the results you want!

The Gym Mirror: Your New BFF!

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Do you ever wonder why gyms have so many darn mirrors? Many people are put off by the mirrors. They feel like the mirrors either remind them of why they needed to join the gym in the first place, or make them feel self-conscious. The mirrors at the gym actually do serve a very important purpose to you and your workout – think of them as your new best friend forever (BFF) for proper form and effective training technique.

Here’s how they work:

Proper Form

  • Probably the most important use of mirrors is to monitor form as you perform exercises, especially when training on your own. Performing any exercise incorrectly can not only result in injury, but is also a waste of training time. If you’re not doing exercises correctly, you’re not training anything so there’s no point doing it. Poor form can also lead to long term injuries from weaknesses and muscular imbalance, as well as short term injuries that can sideline you from showing up at the gym and meeting goals. Incorrect form slows down strength training progress, as well as toning and shaping of the muscles.
  • Mirrors enable you to see the back half and both sides of your body so you have a full 360 degree view of what you’re doing. They can assist you in balance as you attempt exercises that challenge your balance, coordination, and agility.
  • Proper form should always include a solid core, shoulders held down away from the ears, and slightly bent knees to maintain stability without placing too much pressure on knees. Using the mirror allows you to maintain a constant visual of your form as you move through each repetition of exercise. When parts of your body become loose or slack, it’s easily noticed and corrected through the reflection in the mirror which will help prevent it from becoming habit.
  • Your body learns correct form so it becomes natural over time to do so without thinking about it, as long as you put in the effort in the beginning to teach the body what proper form feels like.

Mental influences

  • Mirrors reflect the progress you’re making back to you. Once you get into a workout or training program you will be able see for yourself how much better you are at working through the exercises, and how much stronger you are. You’ll even start to see some muscular re-shaping and changes in your posture as you build strength to hold your body differently by standing taller and stronger in general. You’ll notice you move more fluidly and powerfully in general, which increases your motivation to stay consistent and continue showing up to exercise.
  • Mirrors can also be an excellent way to brighten up a dark space which can help energize you for your workout. If your exercise room is in a basement or small space, adding mirrors can be an easy, simply way to bring more light into the space, which helps with motivation and energy. A pleasant workout space is much more appealing and inviting, and you will be much more inclined to spend time there and feel motivated to push yourself to work hard. No-one wants to work out in a dungeon.

Let your new BFF be there for you. Any time you find yourself feeling self-conscious in a mirror, remind yourself why they are so important to you and your goals. The mirror plays a critical role in keeping proper form during exercise, and is your most valuable tool – or BFF – in the gym. Your BFF won’t let you down – take advantage, and let the mirror assist you with good form and proper training.

It’s Okay to Be the Turtle

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

A common frustration I hear from clients is disappointment about slow progress. Many feel like they should be further along, or expect greater change more quickly. However, habits don’t change overnight. It took months, or even years, to develop the habits we have, whether they are good or bad. So it is safe to assume that it takes just as long to change them.

In fact that is an important lesson we all learn in life at some point; that with time and commitment change can happen. It is perfectly ok to be slow, in fact, I encourage you to be slow. You have far more opportunity to really learn and evaluate what works and doesn’t work for you, versus rushing through a quick fix. Besides, how many times has a quick fix lasted long-term? Rarely, in fact, most of us become more frustrated and discouraged as a result of the quick fix schemes. And I get it, the quick fix is so tempting. It seems as if everyone around you is trying them, but remember to look at the long-term. How many stuck with it for the long term? Typically not long. And the reason is that most quick fix ideas are not sustainable or they don’t fit you.

Losing weight, making healthy lifestyle changes, or changing a habit is like a marathon. At first we are excited for the challenge and feel motivated, and head out fast. Then we hit mile 10 and wonder what we were thinking. Finally, we hit a hill and think we can’t do this, and then we finally see the end of the race, and we think I did it! All the while going slow, having ups and downs, but fighting through to the end.

As they say, nothing in life worth having is easy. Neither is your health. It takes hard work, patience, understanding and flexibility. So, the next time you feel like your progress is slow, take a step back and look at just how far you have come. Remind yourself of the big picture, what your end goal really is, and you will see that you are right on track to being successful. Truly the key to long-term results is creating change that makes sense for you and fits the lifestyle you envision.

Montana Health Clubs

We’ve put together a list of health clubs in each city in Montana, so you can identify all of your options.


The Source
The Women’s Club
The PEAK Health and Wellness Center
Ridge Fitness
University of Montana Campus Rec
Access Fitness
Anytime Fitness (Stevensville)
The Yoga Fitness Center
Curves Missoula
Monkey Bar Gym Missoula
Oula Missoula
CrossFit Missoula
5 Valleys Crossfit
Zootown CrossFit
MUST Gym (Missoula Urban Strength Training)
Missoula Family YMCA
The Sweat Shop
Pure Barre

Great Falls

PEAK Health & Wellness Center
Access Fitness
Snap Fitness
Gold’s Gym
Anchor Fitness


Capital City Health Club
The YMCA of Helena
Fuel Fitness
CrossFit Helena
Crossroads Fitness
Planet Fitness
Dancing Lotus Center
Atlas Fitness
Fire Tower CrossFit
Loft Studio
Broadwater Hot Springs and Fitness



Billings Athletic Club
Yellowstone Fitness Center
Snap Fitness
Fuel Fitness
Granite Health and Fitness
Anytime Fitness
Plaza Fitness
Billings YMCA
9Round Fitness
CrossFit Billings
Apex Personal Training & Fitness
Rimrock CrossFit
Black Orchid Athletics
Pure Barre
Limber Tree Yoga Studio
The Grindhouse Boxing Gym
Sumits Hot Yoga
Pure Pilates


Ridge Athletic Club
Montana State University Fitness
Fuel Fitness
Pure Barre
Snap Fitness Bozeman
Snap Fitness Belgrade
Main Street Fitness
Access Fitness
I Love Kickboxing
True Spirit CrossFit and Yoga
Oula Bozeman
Health Balance
Club Pilates Bozeman
Mountain Yoga
Bridger Pilates
Zephyr Cycling Studio
Sumits Hot Yoga
Core 406 Pilates
Yoga Motion Academy
Bend Beyond Yoga


Fuel Fitness
Fitness Courts
Copper City CrossFit
Butte Family YMCA
Keep It Real CrossFit


Southwestern Montana Family YMCA


Flathead Health & Fitness
Kalispell Athletic Club
Cross Fit Flathead
The Summit
Access Fitness
Fuel Fitness
Yoga Hive

Choosing Athletic Shoes

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Proper-fitting shoes make a big difference in safety in all activity. While most specialty sport shoe stores have knowledgeable staff to guide you, you’ll be a few steps ahead of the game if you arrive with some basic knowledge about your feet and their specific needs. Think about the following tips next time you head out to shop:

Get Activity-Specific Shoes – Walking shoes tend to be a little stiff, and running shoes are more flexible with extra cushioning to handle greater impact. If you do both activities, get one pair for each activity.

Know Your Foot History – Knowing your foot’s particular quirks is key to selecting the right pair of shoes. Take any older shoes that you are replacing with you when you shop. A knowledgeable salesperson will use them to assess your wear pattern, which will help them choose a shoe for you. Your old shoes are also a great place to start when telling them what you like or dislike about your current shoe – they can look and them and understand the problems.

  • If your shoes show the most wear on the inside edge, it likely means you’ve got low arches or flat feet and tend toward over-pronation so your feet roll inward. Over-pronation can create extra wear on the outside heel and inside forefoot, so you’ll want a shoe with a motion-control feature and maximum arch support.
  • If your shoes wear out mostly on the outside edge, you may have high arches so you tend to under-pronate (also called supinate), meaning your feet roll outward. Under-pronation causes wear on the outer edge of the heel and the little toe, so you’ll need to look for a cushioned shoe with a soft midsole.
  • A neutral arch occurs when your shoes wear out uniformly. Look for a “stability” shoe with the right mix of cushioning and support combined.

Measure Your Foot Frequently – Your foot size doesn’t just change when you’re young, it changes when you’re an adult, too, especially if you’re a woman who’s had a pregnancy. Have your feet measured a couple of times each year so you actually know your true size when shopping. Feet also swell over the course of the day, and will expand while you run or walk. So fit your feet when they’re at their largest. Also, shoe sizes vary between brands, so decide by fit rather than the size of the shoe.

Bring Your Accessories – take the socks you plan to wear with the shoes so you get a feel for how the fabric of the shoe against the socks will feel, or if it will slip at all. If you wear orthotics, bring those as well, to get a proper fit.

No Break-in Necessary – Athletic shoes should feel comfortable right away. Walk or run around the store a bit to make sure they feel good in action. But they should feel comfortable before you use them the first time.

Size It Right – There should be about a thumb width between the front of your big toe and the end of the shoe. The heel should fit snug and not slip out when you walk. The upper part of the shoe, which goes over the top of your foot, should be snug and secure without being too tight. Basically, you should be able to wiggle all of your toes freely when the shoe is on and laces tied.

Purchase Good Support – Your athletic shoe should have a solid arch support. To know if it’s solid enough, take the shoe and bend the toe of it down across the sole toward the heel. If you’re able to bend your athletic shoe into itself in any way, it doesn’t have enough support.

Understand the Features – Clear inserts, filled with gel, Freon, or air, provide extra shock absorption in some of the new shoe models. These features are especially good for people who tend to get heel pain and are not so good for people whose ankles twist easily. Shoes with extra cushioning tend to provide less traction – something you need to know to stay safe on the terrain you use.

Be Cautious of Trends – When low profile shoes came out a couple of years ago, a lot of customers didn’t understand that using them properly required conditioning of foot strength to be able to wear them safely. Those shoes actually required a graduation of reduced arch support to wear them safely. Do your homework, ask questions, and be an informed buyer to keep yourself safe.

Price Can Be Informative – Good-quality athletic shoe can be fairly pricey. Start your shopping with the goal of support and comfort then approach the price. You may find the same shoe model with all the comfort and support you like is still available in the previous year version at a more affordable than the current-year model.

Know When to Replace Them – The average pair of athletic shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles of use. Assess your needs by how your shoes look and feel. Once the back of the sole is worn out, or the shoe feels uncomfortable or less supportive, it’s time to retire them and start shopping again.

Working Out at Home

By Shannon Jones, Take Control Health Coach

Some of the many challenges people face when it comes to exercise are limited time, motivation, and resources. To overcome these obstacles, exercising at home can be the best option.

Benefits of working out at home include:

  • Convenience
  • Flexibility
  • Affordability
  • Privacy

Home workouts come with their own set of challenges — too many distractions, motivation, boredom or a lack of variety, lack of resources, or lack of space and equipment. Living in a small town and having a busy schedule, I’ve found that free online or app workouts have solved many of these problems. There are so many to choose from that I’m never bored, or lack variety. Many of these online workouts can be done in a very small space, and without any equipment. And of course the fact that they are free eliminates the cost barriers.

Here are a few free online resources that have helped me stay motivated and fit:


Sparkpeople TV  was created to offer a resource that has short, free workouts to help people reach their goals


  • Free – over 500 free videos streamlined
  • Variety – workouts ranging from cardio and strength to yoga and meditation
  • Workouts are led by certified trainers/instructors
  • Their “workout finder” helps you find a workout to meet your needs
  • Workouts are 5-15 minutes long


  • Must have internet to stream workouts and a device (computer, smartphone, tablet, streaming device, TV)
  • Free workouts are only 5-15 minutes, if you want the longer video version you must subscribe to AcaciaTV (cost $6.99 a month)
  • Too many choices can be overwhelming



FitnessBlender –  was created to make exercise approachable, accessible and affordable to everyone


  • Free – over 500 free workout videos for every fitness level, offer workouts with or without equipment
  • Workouts are led by certified trainers
  • User friendly, has variety, workouts for men and women
  • Most of the workouts have options for different fitness levels included


  • Can be overwhelming looking for the right workout
  • Must have internet to stream workouts and a device
  • Too many choices can be overwhelming.



7 minute workout App (Must get from device app store) This app is designed to get you started with exercise, and make it a habit and a part of your routine


  • Only 7 minutes!
  • No equipment needed
  • No internet access needed (if you use data)
  • Work out anytime, anywhere
  • Play songs from your favorite music app in the background
  • Adjustable intervals and option to do multiple circuits
  • The “Learn” tab includes pro tips on how to perform each exercise
  • Connect with the Health app to sync all workouts and burned calorie


  • Supposed to push you and be hard since it’s High Intensity Circuit Training
  • 10 seconds’ rest may not feel like enough for some people
  • If you are not intentional about your form you can get injured due to fast pace
  • If using long term for workout you will need to repeat the whole circuit 3 times to reap the most benefits

Give one of these workout options a try and let us know how it went! If you have a favorite free home workout site or app you love – tell us about it in the comments below.

Key Strategies for Setting Goals

By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

A journey in health and wellness begins with a vision. Create an image in your mind of where you are going — your end result — and what steps you need to take to get there.

As with any challenging adventure, it is important to acknowledge your individual goals – have you brain-stormed or written them down? Is your plan “S.M.A.R.T.” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound)? Before any long, successful journey, yet especially with nutrition and fitness, setting goals becomes your chance to get specific with your intentions and to state how those intentions will become effort. The best actions are those which are realized and brainstormed, well-written, and then adjusted along the way. Early on, taking the time for creative thought is essential! Honor your interests and preferences so that your goals are realistic and will make you feel successful.

Based on your personality and abilities, it is important for you to either be broad with your goals, such as stating that you will join the YMCA by March 1st, or if it helps you to stay focused, get specific by stating that you will join the gym and attend your first class by March 1st. Remember that you will feel more empowered by choosing your goals, rather than letting a health care provider, a trainer or a health coach determine what your goals should be. You, as the leader of your team, will be more likely to come up with ideas which are achievable and appropriate to your life. Your health coach can help you pinpoint what is most important, and help maneuver your way around any obstacles you encounter.

As you set up your plan, what specific goals would you like to work on first? What changes are you interested in making? Is there a specific exploration activity or an experiment you can set up to see if one of your ideas is a good fit? Perhaps a trial run would be helpful? For example, you may be contemplating joining a gym. You may know of several facilities available to you, yet you are not familiar with them. Try setting a goal to purchase a one-time guest pass or arrange a free tour with a couple of facilities which interest you. By contacting the facility, you would meet one step in a goal. By showing up, you have taken the next step. By looking around and imagining yourself at that facility, you have taken an important step. It may be too much to go from thinking about the gym to joining blindly. Know more!

Here is an example of how to set a goal and break it into steps:

Goal: I will join the YMCA and attend a beginner yoga class, 3 times per week.
Breakdown of steps:

  1. I will arrange a tour and orientation by a staff member at the YMCA.
  2. I will check on the fees involved and plan the cost into my budget.
  3. I will initiate the membership by paying fees and signing an agreement.
  4. I will make sure I have supportive shoes and comfortable clothes.
  5. I will determine what days works into my work and home schedule.
  6. I will prepare my gym bag, water bottle, and a light snack in advance.
  7. I will show up and do my best by learning yoga and asking questions.

When setting a goal and breaking down the steps, try to follow these guidelines:

  1. The goal or step supports your personal autonomy
  2. The goal or step instills confidence within
  3. The goal or step promotes independence with future goal-setting

If goals seem too lofty, simply step back, have patience, be graceful to yourself and approach the goal slowly. Avoid talking yourself out of the goal, but instead go back to it when the time is right. Let goals be either too small or too big, and then keep practicing until they seem right.

One way of practicing is to set up a trial run. Make smaller goals that are achievable, and once you have success with those, you can start creating larger goals that lead to permanent lifestyle change. Set up a temporary change, test out behavior, and visualize it from many angles. Reflect on it from many angles? Are you capable of the change? Do you like the change? Does the change influence others around you? Collect data and decide if the results are positive or negative. Decide if you need to change the plan or re-think it completely. Goals related to nutrition and fitness must be aimed at excellence – avoid perfectionist thinking and an all-or-nothing attitude, or you may give up. Instead, begin anew by taking different steps toward the goal!

Remember that motivation is based on factors such as your individual abilities, your personal confidence, and your internal belief that efforts to change will work. You must give yourself applause and feel the small successes within to continue on your individual journey in wellness!

Let others support and encourage you – look for those who will help celebrate your successes and help you work through obstacles you discover along the way. Empower yourself with knowledge about yourself and what works and what does not. Use what you have learned to move forward on the path to success – to the overall vision you saw from the start.

Choosing a Personal Trainer

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Working with a Personal Trainer is one of the best ways to get comfortable at the gym, and to learn exercises specific to your fitness goals. Just like hiring any professional, you’ll have the most success if you hire someone you trust and who is a good fit with your personality and style. Start your personal trainer search by approaching it like a job interview. The more you know about the trainer, the more likely you’ll find someone you like. There are no perfect trainers, just a good fit for each person.

Fitness is a broad field, and trainers come into it from a variety of backgrounds and experience. Start by asking about their background and approach to fitness. Ask how they got into fitness: was it through work experience? Are they a former athlete? Was it a lifelong interest in living an active lifestyle? Learning about their their background and what led them to become a trainer can help you understand how they approach fitness.

Next, ask if they specialize in specific clientele. Some trainers work primarily with marathon runners, or triathletes. Some focus on working with seniors. Some work with the general population of a gym. Find out if they have a focus, and if so, what it is. If you are looking for a trainer for a specific specialty, you’ll want to interview those who have experience in that specialty. Most trainers have the education and ability to work with everyone, but specializing makes a difference so you want to know what they’re able to offer you.

A good personal trainer will not only be certified and/or educated in exercise, but they will also ask you to tell them your goals. The trainer wants to understand your needs so they’re successful in helping you achieve your goals. Be specific when you tell them why you want to work with a trainer and what you need them to do. Let them know what you are looking for help with. Maybe you simply need accountability, and having an appointment with someone at the gym will help you actually show up and exercise. Or maybe you just need someone to show you the ropes because you’ve never used the equipment before. Whatever your reason for hiring a trainer, be specific about why you’re hiring them so you’ll both be successful.

To Recap:

Approach the search like a job interview:

  • Ask them how they got into fitness
  • What is their background?
  • What types of clients do they work with?
  • Do they have a specialty? Certification?

Be clear with your intentions:

  • Tell them your specific goals
  • Let them know why you need their help
  • Tell them HOW you see them helping you
    • Education/knowledge
    • Accountability
    • Motivation

When to Change Trainers

If you choose a trainer, and any of the following happen, it’s time to change trainers:

  • You need to remind them of your goals
  • You need to remind them of your injuries
  • They don’t listen if you say you’re uncomfortable with the amount of weight or the exercises
  • You feel unsafe
  • You don’t seem to have a connection or feel comfortable

A good personal trainer understands the need for a good fit, and they don’t want to get in the way of you and your fitness goals.