Myth vs Fact

Debunking 6 of the most common fitness myths we hear at Phoenix

By: Mary Hendricks

As trainers, we hear it all. By this, I mean we hear every excuse, every fear, and every myth revolving the health and fitness world. While I admit I do enjoy hearing all of these things, for the sheer fact that I like to prove people wrong (a trait I admit Im not always proud of ), I also hate these myths. This is because I have found they can at times cause our clients to remain doubtful and in turn can sabotage their attempts in gaining a better footing on improving their health.

IMG_4331Engaging in any fitness regime can be really intimidating at first. Trust me, I know from personal experience. As a teen, I remember all the countless Google searches and magazine articles out there, telling me the “best exercises and best diets.” Of course, I then remember seeing soon after how those same “best exercises and diets” were now turned upside down and said to be the WORST! I mean, come on! How was I or anyone supposed to ever get the results desired with all this contradictory information out there.

Fortunately, I stuck to my guns and kept researching and when finally gaining a certification in personal training, I was able to finally put the puzzle pieces together and figure out how it all worked. I think all of the other trainers here at Phoenix can say they relate to my experience. We all weren’t born with some innate understanding of how the body works. Instead, we each had to work at it on our own, educate ourselves and then apply through trial and error. It was this diligence that makes us love the work we do and excited at the ability of educating our own clients so that they too can learn and transform their lives.

So what is the first step in helping educate you? Easy, we are going to tackle 6 of the most common health/fitness myths we continuously hear from our clients at Phoenix.

1. “Weight lifting will make women bulky.”

This one drives us ladies at Phoenix bonkers! Unfortunately this myth is probably the most common one I hear from my female clients. But to keep it short and sweet, here is what I always tell my clients when faced with this concern. It is naturally impossible for women to get bulky when lifting weights (you can thank your hormone levels for that). However, please note the word “naturally.” I say this because you certainly can get bulky but that would only be if you A) gained more fat, which will add an additional layer on top of your muscles you are growing or B) you are taking a supplement or steroid that has testosterone in it. Remember, testosterone is the hormone in males that cause them to gain larger muscle size. Men generally have about 30x more testosterone then us ladies. So unless you are taking something to increase your testosterone levels, bulkiness will not and CAN NOT occur.

2) “Doing crunches will give me a six pack.”

This is the one myth I wish was true. Trust me, if it were, I’d be doing crunches all day/every day. Unfortunately, I’ve learned and constantly telling my clients that you can do crunches all day until you pass out but you still will not get a six pack. Ever heard of the saying “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym?” Well its true. When a person has a higher percentage of body fat, your abs will in turn be covered in FAT. And no amount of abdominal exercises will shed that fat. In fact, spot training in general (no matter the area of the body) is pretty much useless. In order to visibly tone a certain area of your body- in this instance your abs- you need to decrease your body fat levels. How do you do this? Diet is number one, higher levels of cardio and of course, weight lifting. Or you can just come into Phoenix and we will help show you how 🙂

3) “If I’m not sore after my my workout, then it wasn’t good.”

I used to think this same exact thing. If I worked out, I wanted to walk away every single time feeling purely exhausted. And if I wasn’t, well I would then get down on myself and feel defeated. Thankfully overtime,with my training and education, I learned that this did not need to be the case.

When we work out, we actually are creating tiny little micro tears to our muscle fibers. Scary I know, but don’t worry these tears are actually a good thing. This is because with every tear, comes recovery which, leads to bigger/stronger muscles. This is how a body is transformed and this is also the reason we get sore. Soreness for everyone can be different. Depending on your fitness levels and genetics, some people may experience soreness all the time while others may find it harder. It can also happen at different rates for each person, some experiencing it as early as 24 hours while others may not feel anything until 72+ hours afterward.

4) “Doing cardio is the only way I will lose weight.”

All cardio and no strength training sounds like a total snooze fest to me. However, many people still tend to fall prey to this myth.

Cardio ONLY: Calorie for calorie, cardio seems like the go-to choice. Why, because on average for exercises like running/biking, you’ll burn 10 to 12 calories per minute. Upfront, this might seem like a no brainer, but before you make up your mind take a look below at strength training.

Strength Training Only: At first glance, weight lifting seems to fall flat in comparison. But lets take a deeper look. When we lift weights, we get a boost to the metabolism for an hour after working out because your body is working to help your muscles recover. That means you’ll torch additional calories on-top of the ones you just scorched during your strength training session. And if you lift heavier weights or rest no more than 30 seconds between sets, you can annihilate even more. Oh and did I mention, strength training can lead to more calories being burnt by just existing? Yes thats right, by incorporating weights into your regime, you can “Netflix and Chill” all day and still burn fat.

Now, I’m no genius but when looking at the two, I see much more benefit to one versus the other. However, life should always be about balance and for optimal results, I believe both cardio and strength should be included in every workout.

5) “I can eat whatever I want because I exercise.”

Ugh, now this is one I really really wish was true because this girl loves to eat.  You can not out-exercise a crappy diet. In fact, I like to explain to my clients that exercise is “like the icing on a piece of cake.” 80% of the work has to be done at home with diet while the other 20% can be done in a gym. This is because we all tend to overestimate the exact amount of calories we expend during a training session. In order to see the results you are wanting, you need to take a real deep look at your eating habits, in addition to your exercise and figure out the exact amount that will lead to a calorie deficit.

6) “The more I workout, the better result I’ll get.” 

Let me ask you this question. Can you survive going without sleep for a few days? How about giving up sleep entirely for a whole week. Think you could do that? Just like sleep, setting times for rest/recovery is crucial for your body. When we take a day off, we give our bodies the ability to repair itself so that it will get stronger. Think of yourself as a machine or better yet, a car. Without the proper tune ups, eventually over time you can expect to see some things starting to fail. Same goes for our bodies. Without proper rest, you are much more likely to experience injury and now instead of facing a few days off, you could now be facing weeks off.

How much rest should you take? Depends on your fitness levels but to be safe I always start by recommending resting every other day. As you start getting a bit more advanced, I then recommend at least 2-3 days rest each week.  Keep in mind resting doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch or lay in bed all day. It can be as simple as taking the day and instead going on a walk, doing some house work, or doing yoga.




It’s Here, Our First Blog Post!

Meet our newest trainer Mary Hendricks

First of all, let me start off by saying hello and welcome to all who are tuning in to check out our very first post! Everyone at Phoenix is super excited to be able to get this up and running so that we can better reach, educate and of course, entertain new and current members.


With that being said, I want to introduce myself, the writer of this first post. My name is Mary Hendricks and I am the newest addition to the Phoenix Team! As a fellow resident of Milltown, I am beyond excited to be able to join such an amazing crew of individuals and continue a career in personal training in the town I call home.

I didn’t always work in the fitness industry, in fact after attending college at Purdue University, I jumped into the world of Pharmaceutical Marketing. And well…as you might have guessed I absolutely hated it and wanted to find a career with passion. Lucky for me, the universe must have received this message by presenting me with a lay off and gave me the opportunity to take a leap into a career I was always too nervous to try but have always loved.

I’ve always loved working out but unfortunately for many years, I didn’t use fitness to my benefit and did not treat my body in the best way possible. Like many other teen girls, I struggled through high school and college with poor body image and disordered eating. I’d go through cycles of binges and cycles of starvation. I was either “all in” or “all out,” finding it very difficult to find an even balance between loving life and staying healthy.  However, after many years of ups and downs, I was able to slowly teach myself a better understanding of how nutrition works and not too long after was entering the weight room at the gym.

For the past 2 years, I had the pleasure of working at a private personal training gym located in Somerville New Jersey. While here, I was able to grow as a personal trainer and group class coach, receiving the most outstanding education and experience. I was able to work with various people of all ages and fitness levels and help each of my clients reach their individual health goals. It was truly an experience I will never forget but I can not wait to share my knowledge with the Phoenix community.

Using my past personal and professional experiences along with my education, I like to describe my training style as fun, interesting and always informational. I’m a stickler for form and always make sure to scale appropriately to each client. However, I also enjoy pushing each of my clients appropriately to leave their comfort zones and try something new. I know working out isn’t always the most fun thing to do and can suck sometimes. Trust me, I feel that way A LOT myself. But I believe that those instances are the very ones that make the difference. Those instances are the moments that I believe dictate your success or failure in all you do, even outside of health/fitness.

So now knowing my background, I’m sure you all are asking about what certifications I have. Currently I am certificated through NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Additionally, I also have a certificate of specialization in both Pre & Post Natal Corrective Exercise through Fit For Birth. In fact, this specialization is one I am truly becoming passionate about expanding and would love to welcome any women who is planning to become pregnant, currently is pregnant or has had a baby.

I truly cannot express how thrilled I am to start my next career chapter at Phoenix. I look forward to meeting all of the Phoenix Community and helping each person get one step closer to their health and fitness goals and ultimately transform their lives for the better.