Adding Strength to Your H.I.I.T. Workouts

I get it… Not everyone loves strength training. It makes a certain amount of sense since there is plenty of chatter about using lighter weights to tone the muscles. Now, trust me… I’m not mocking what other people say, that’s there prerogative.

Here’s the deal from my perspective though.

Strength training assists us with

  • burning fat
  • increasing bone density (this means less breaks and fractures as we age, particularly women)
  • boosting confidence AND…
  • gets us through every day life

Here’s the other BIG thing to consider, strength training or resistance training is unique from person to person. The maximum amount of weight that I can lift today will be different from yours, which will also be different from your friend and your other friend. The common ground is that it is really important, for all of us.


I know another big concern is that some of us get a little more bulky than others when doing some serious strength training. If this is the case, which it certainly can be… then you want to vary the weights that you use throughout your workouts on a weekly basis. Not to mention there’s zero benefit to lifting the max amount of weight you can lift every single time you workout.


So how do you know where to start?


There’s a little bit of trial and error that goes into it. For starters though, you’d want to set aside some time to pick few exercises that you’d be curious to knowing your max amount of weight that you can move. You’d likely only want to test 1-2 of these exercises a day and spread them out over the course of a week. Trying to lift your maximum amount of weight for a single exercise will be very challenging, you don’t want to test several in one day, unless you are at a competition.


Once you know your numbers take them into consideration when you are deciding which weights to use for your workouts. If the workout has rep schemes that 8-12 or more, use a lesser percentage of the weight. If the rep scheme is 3-5 or less, consider using a greater percentage of your maximum weight and vary those higher percentages from workout to workout so you aren’t always doing the same. Remember, attempting 100% of your weight all the time isn’t a good thing.


When it comes to H.I.I.T. (high intensity interval training) keep in mind that high intensity doesn’t necessarily mean fast. This could be a great opportunity to use a slightly heavier weight for one exercise and lighter to moderate weight for the other exercises, provided the rep/set scheme is appropriate. Adding in strength training here will help with all the attributes of lifting heavier weights that were listed out above while also feeling like you’ve worked out doing the H.I.I.T. component of the workout.


If you aren’t quite into the whole idea of lifting heavier weights this will be a mindset shift for sure. It’s OK to ease into it, remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Mixing up the amount of weight you use during your workout program as a whole (meaning month over month) helps you to avoid serious plateaus so from that standpoint it’s highly important to vary the amount of weight you use for both different exercises and the same.


Want to see what I’m talking about, stop in to set up a success session with one of coaches today!

LifeStyle Program

LifeStyle Program


LifeStyle Program


There is so much noise in the world about what to do for nutrition and exercise. Even as a fitness professional I’ve occasionally been caught up with it. After careful analysis I’ve also delivered some of the more sound options, in short durations, because I know clients are curious about it.

Some nutrition fads are just that fads, some have real science behind them, most are not sustainable long term and even more are executed incorrectly. The other consideration is that not every new thing that gets introduced will work for all of us. However, the thing that will work for most of us, most of the time is the simplicity of eating non processed foods that are high in nutrients, while paying attention to portions.

Enter Urban Athlete’s LifeStyle Program. We took components that define a realistic and sensible health, exercise and nutrition program and organized it to make reaching your goals not only possible but sustainable in the long haul. It’s not going to be a quick fix. It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. BUT…

It will change your life. 

It will set you up for success.

It will be a program you can follow long term and not feel deprived.


LifeStyle Program Starts: February 11, 2019 and runs for 6 weeks

Registration End Date: February 9, 2019

You’ll be

-setting goals

-creating/changing habits

-committing to an exercise program at minimum of three day a week

-logging your nutrition

-checking in weekly and being held accountable.


To register please fill out the form below:


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



We will do an intro to the LifeStyle Program that you can watch at your convenience. Once registered we will send the link to your email.

We will only be accepting 7 people who are not currently clients into this program so you’ll want to register fast.


What Are You Looking To Achieve?

What exactly are you looking to achieve this year as it relates to your health and fitness? Have you decided you want to lose 15 pounds or stop eating processed foods or maybe even deadlift your own bodyweight or more.


Any of the options I listed or any you have in your heart, all require you to start and then be consistent.

I could have belabored that a bit but that’s the reality right? If you want to see a change, you have to make a change.


It’s a really unique time at Urban Athlete right now. It is of course the beginning of the year and resolutions are flying around everywhere but the reality is this… We want to see you reach your goals. Sometimes it takes a little kick start to get things going and to remind you or even inspire you to keep going!

The upcoming 6 week Lifestyle Challenge isn’t about restrictions and two-a-day workouts. In fact we’re bringing it further back to the basics than I ever have before. It’s crazy but it’s true – measure the calories in, measure the calories out and ensure the calories in are rich in nutrients.


You ready to make the jump?


Starting Monday, January 28th – you can take the lifestyle leap with us. Send us a message  to urbanathletephilly (at) gmail.com or 215-248-2130 to get set up for a success session this week and get started on the path that will lead you to long term success with your health and fitness.



Yummy Winter Goodness, Baked Sausage and Yams

Yummy Winter Goodness, Baked Sausage and Yams

As with most things, it is more likely to be done if it isn’t complicated. Dinners and meal prep follow the same rule. I’ve always found it easiest when meals can be made in the same dish.

I tried this the other night and it was delicious. Also, quite perfect for the winter months.


Baked Sausage, Yams and Spinach with Goat Cheese


What you will need:

  • Two bags of baby spinach
  • One pound of sweet Italian sausage, use Chorizo if you want it to have a kick
  • 3-4 cups diced yams
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese


Preheat oven to 375.

Layer one bag of spinach into a baking dish, lightly sprinkle with pink salt, skip the salt of using chorizo.

Evenly distribute cubed yams and cubed sausage.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, uncover baking dish and evenly place the goat cheese across the dish. This can be spread or placed throughout in similar sizes.

Return to oven at 425 for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Serve the warm casserole over top raw spinach.


Consistency…The Spice of Life

Consistency… The Spice of Life


Here’s a picture I’m going to paint for you.

Four days a week you attend a 45 minute, high intensity interval training workout. You get an average 7 hours of sleep a night. 90% of the time you follow a healthy and supportive meal plan. You’ve reached your most recent weight loss goal and have noticed an increase in strength and flexibility.

Here’s a very different picture.

You’re staying up too late each night trying to get in some last minute work while you have the TV on the background. You miss breakfast and lunch most days and often eat far too much at dinner time as well as snack mindlessly while doing the late night work. You’re often tired and groggy in the morning and it’s tough to get out of bed. You miss morning workouts because you’re tired and you miss evening workouts also because you’re tired. Over the past 6 months you’ve really started to notice that your clothes are no longer fitting well.

Both of these stories have very consistent daily life patterns.

The last one is the slow consistency of becoming more unhealthy each day. Slowly adding on weight and leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

The first one might not be the full pillar of health but is the reward of making consistently smarter choices by sticking to the road that is usually less traveled. It can sometimes be harder to stay on this path but the reward when you do is triumph for better daily quality of life.

The first story also isn’t about such rigidity that there is no fun to be had but rather building a foundation that will support your ability to balance the fun, life, work and taking care of you to be able to take care of others.

In the second story, it becomes easier and easier to continue on the sedentary path because to some degree it is easier just not healthier. The full blown reality is that you are slowly letting outside factors take over and ruin the mind and body you were given to protect. It might not seem like it now but soon a few flights of stairs will be uncomfortable for you.

Here’s a starter plan to help lead you from the second story into the first, just remember it’s all about different habits with the same consistency.

  • Each week, schedule 3 days at a specific time where you will be active. This can include going to the gym or you can start as simple as going for a rigorous walk outside. You must keep these appointments with yourself.
  • Twice a week, plan and prep in advance a few days worth of meals. Don’t try to be elaborate to start. Make a crockpot of chili and grill 2-3 lbs of lean protein. Portion them out into containers with your favorite veggies for your meals for the week.
  • Turn the TV and your phones/tablets off at night by at least 10pm and go to sleep. Avoid laying in bed watching TV or surfing the internet, give your eyes and your mind some time to rest.

If you fall off the plan, simply pick it back up with the very next step.

Above all else, remember it’s all about different habits with the same consistency. It takes time but you can succeed.


It’s about Change

There’s a really great quote,

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

-Fred Devito

If effective exercise and good for you nutrition were easy, everyone would be doing it. Everyone would have successes. As a whole we’d likely be a healthier, happier world.

When your exercise routine doesn’t challenge you anymore you probably won’t see results, at least not the same degree of results you had in the beginning of starting. You can challenge yourself by:

  • using heavier weights
  • taking less rest
  • varying the tempo of the exercise
  • completing the same amount of work in less time
  • changing the time of day you exercise

The same concept applies for nutrition. It will take more time to prepare your food but it will be healthier and better for you than eating out or buying prepackaged food items. It might be easy to order a pizza for dinner but over the long haul you’ll have a greater response from grilled chicken, roasted vegetables and a salad.

I don’t mean any of this to say that you should purposefully make life harder on yourself, that’s not the angle I’m approaching this from. If you’re going to put in the effort to do a workout, be sure to make it challenging so you benefit from your efforts. If you’re going do that, then you’ll want to fuel and refuel the body with nutrients that are needed by doing some meal prep.


Don’t know what to do for your workouts?

Call us to set up a time for your success session and we’ll show you how! 215-248-2130

Fit for Fall Challenge

Fit for Fall Challenge

October 8 – November 4


What’s the challenge about:

We’re going a little old school on this challenge. There will be nutrition/food tracking, logging your workouts, strict adherence to the plan. It’s four weeks long and includes:

  • pre challenge measurements: Friday October 5th to Sunday October 7th
  • nutrition & recipes
  • minimum three days a week workouts at Urban Athlete
  • bonus yoga session: Sunday, October 14th at 12pm
  • bonus strength session: Sunday, October 21st at 12pm
  • bonus mobility session: Saturday, October 27th at 11am
  • bonus strength session: Friday, November 2nd at 6pm
  • post challenge measurements: Sunday, November 4th at 12-3pm

More, More, More and Less?

There are likely more recommendations on health and fitness, exercise, weight loss and strength gains than any other subject matter on the consumer market. If not, there are at least too many to count.

Who and what should you believe?

First and foremost, all the facts are required to make the best, educated decision for you.

If it sounds extreme like caloric deprivation, under 1000 calories a day while maintaining exercise, it’s not sustainable or healthy. Also, if it’s excessive, like two-a-day workouts with steady state cardio built in, it’s not sustainable or healthy.

All lifestyle; exercise and nutrition, decisions should support increasing your quality of life. That’s not to say that starting them might be uncomfortable compared to what you currently do. After all, consistent exercise and clean eating are not easy tasks to master but they can be mastered.

To avoid making this a mile long read, the basics for the average person with quality of life as goal, look like this:

-Eat lean proteins, healthy fats, non processed carbohydrates, vegetables and low glycemic fruits.
-Exercise consistently throughout the week, at least 3-4 days a week.
-Don’t starve yourself, your body needs nutrients, particularly after you workout.
-Get sleep, at least 7 hours, it’s part of the recovery process.
-If it hurts, don’t do it. Find a substitute.
-Never give up. Keep at it, building habits and creating change won’t happen overnight.
-Keep yourself accountable, let your coach or family member know if you need support during the process.

Once you’ve mastered the above you make tweaks to train for specific events or to see what your body is capable of doing. Just don’t over do it in the beginning. Remember this: extreme and excessive are not sustainable or healthy.

Let me help you with your hesitation.

Typically I write to you about my perspective on health, fitness and wellness from being in the industry for almost 15 years – keeping an open mind that I know our fitness programs aren’t for everyone. Today, I want to specifically talk about the programs at Urban Athlete, their benefits and why you shouldn’t hesitate to give them a try.

Let’s look at why you might be hesitant to check us out:

1. You haven’t exercised in quite awhile and you aren’t sure where/how to get started again.
2. You might be concerned that our program is only for athletes.
3. You think you can’t keep up.
4. What if you’re the only new person in the session.
5. You have a few aches you aren’t sure how to work around.

These are actually all great reasons TO workout with us at Urban Athlete!

Let me explain…

All of our group training sessions are specifically designed to be able to allow the newest fitness enthusiast to obtain a great workout along side a fellow Urban Athlete who has been exercising with us for the past 12 years! Each of our workouts can easily be modified based on strength, skill set or mild injury.

Everyone who comes to Urban Athlete is an athlete, even the least suspecting. We believe everyone has the ability and capability to reach their own level of strength, power and endurance. You measure your progress against you, no one else. You set your own bar, achieve it and set a new one. We will help you get there and our community of like minded and supportive folks with similar goals will lift you up in the process.

If you’re new, we have a buddy for you! You won’t have to go through the workout alone. We all started in the same place at some point, so we will make sure a coach is by your side with a more in depth description of the workout, coaching you. We will also do our best to pair you up with a fellow Urban Athlete, who will work by your side every step of the way. This isn’t just on day one either, it’s every session after as you need it.

On day one, even on day 10, we don’t expect everyone to do the entire workout as written. Reps, sets, weights… you name it, can all be adjusted so your first few workouts work for you. At Urban Athlete, exercise is a lifestyle, we want you to love it as much as we do, so we don’t want you to over do it your first few days. Exercise is fun and we believe with this approach that you’ll think so too.

It might sound repetitive but those aches and pains, provided they aren’t serious injuries, will likely start feeling better with some regular movement. Remember, it’s about lifestyle design. We want you to workout for the long haul, move better, feel better, and be stronger.

I’m really confident in saying, once you start on a consistent program, you won’t want to turn back. For many people the gym is their place to go to, to be with like minded friends, to relieve stress, to decompress, to see what you are capable of.

Are you ready to see what you are capable of?

We’re running a 21 day challenge from June 9, 2018 – June 29, 2018: To see if it’s a good fit, click this link and submit your inquiry.

How To Make A Gym Membership Work For You

After being in the industry for over 14 years and owning a facility for over 12 years, I’ve noticed that when budgets are tight or expenses need to be cut, gym memberships are often one of the first to go. In reality it should be one of the last.

Here’s my opinion on how to make a gym membership work for you and why it’s valuable.

Years ago the boutique style gym wasn’t quite a thing yet, CrossFit did a great job of helping to get today’s smaller, functional training facilities on the map. Before then there were large, corporate owned gyms that offered classes, personal training and just a regular old membership, where most people just roamed about. The cost typically wasn’t impactful enough if you missed three weeks in a row or eventually three months in a row.

Here’s why those gyms, and most of our mindset about gyms in general don’t work:

  1. You’re signed up,  all excited and motivated to start but you loose that motivation or you simply don’t know what to do when you are there.
  2. There’s no accountability, so the first week you miss it’s not noticed, then all of a sudden you haven’t gone in 3 months and it’s still not noticed. Eventually you fall out of a routine.
  3. Larger gyms are actually designed for you to not attend.
  4. When you don’t know what to do when you’re at the gym you start to wonder if your time might be better spent doing something else.
  5. If you aren’t following a specific workout and nutrition plan you probably aren’t going to get the results you want in the time period you want and you get frustrated.

In a smaller, boutique style gym, like Urban Athlete, we attempt to break the mindset and limitations listed out above.

  1. At Urban Athlete – it’s about lifestyle. When you sign up for a gym membership we want you to come on a regular and consistent basis.
  2. If you are doing personal training we will make sure the workout is tailored to the goals we discussed in your success session.
  3. If you are doing group training we will make sure that you are comfortable in the group setting and have modifications and progressions available for when/if the workout needs to be adjusted.
  4. Starting a new habit can be challenging and we want you to succeed, so all you have to do is get to the gym, we will show you what you need to do.
  5. We also want your workouts to be fun! In addition to the workouts, we host charity events and appreciation events that allow the community to become more connected to each other.
  6. Supporting you in your efforts is huge, we want to be able to lift you up, even if it’s just for the time you are at the gym.

The best thing for making a gym membership work for you is:

  1. Make sure it’s convenient to home or work or along the route to get to either of these places.
  2. Schedule your gym time like you do all other appointments and don’t miss.
  3. Set small goals; if you attend the gym 36 times (that’s just 3x a week) in 90 days, reward yourself!
  4. Let your coach know what support you need to keep at it. That’s part of the reason we’re there, to help lift you up.