My fitness game-changers

Hi friends! How’s the day going so far? Liv and I had a fun morning at the park, and then stopped by Trader Joe’s to get supplies for a cookie decorating party. Our house is going to be an avalanche of chocolate chips and sprinkles, and it will be glorious.

So I got this comment the other day and thought it would make a fun post topic.

I would love to hear from you in a future post: What has been the biggest fitness game-changer for you and changed the way you approach fitness?: Interval Training? Barre? Running? Dance?

As you guys know, I have quite a few fitness loves. I’m often asked what my favorite workout is, and what I love to do for fun, and it’s always something like: Orangetheory, Zumba, Barre, spinning, strength training and yoga. I’m a little all over the place, and love to take and teach a variety of formats. It keeps things exciting, keeps me on my toes (literally!) as an instructor, and they’ve all changed my life in different yet equally important ways. 

If I had to pick one true fitness game changer for me, as in something that totally revolutionized how I work out and the results I’ve seen, it would definitely be HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training is what finally got me out of the “more is more” mentality when it comes to cardio. I always focused on the duration of my workouts, and when I became a mom and workout time was scarce (and so was energy, initially), it’s when I really got the most out of HIIT. My workouts were shorter, I was able to lose fat while maintaining muscle, and it eventually led to some of my biggest fitness gains. I’m convinced that I finally PRed in the half marathon thanks to a combo of HIIT and Barre. 

The thing about HIIT is that it can be kind of tricky to figure out how and when to implement it in a routine. This is why I spent so much time thoroughly researching HIIT background for the book; I wanted to make awesome fitness plans to share, emphasizing the importance of time management and killer results from your work. You can check it out here if you’d like! (Also, last chance to preorder and get your free eBook.)

Some of the game-changing aspects from my fitness loves:

1) Interval training: increased fitness (speed and power!) + fat loss after baby. It also increased my cardio endurance; steady state workouts feel much easier. Also, I love the short and intense workouts!! I love to sweat and feel accomplished when I’m done, and with HIIT, I’m able to get those amazing endorphins in less time. 

Swing  1 of 1

2) Barre: muscular endurance. I love Barre because it’s a low-impact, yet incredibly challenging, workout option. It’s a perfect option when you want something that feels more low-key (but secretly isn’t! haha) and want to emphasize lower body. During the classes I teach and attend, we do some strength training and work total body, but there’s always a leg and core emphasis. I love that there are always ways to easily modify or progress the moves. 


3) Dance Cardio and Zumba: love and passion for exercise. These things just make me happy, and the fact that I get in some cardio is an added bonus. I grew up dancing, and when we moved to Valdosta, I had left my beloved dance studio and teaching job behind. I missed it terribly, and dancing for fitness helped to fill that void. My favorite part about dance cardio is that it’s a workout that doesn’t feel like work; it feels like a party. 


4) BODYPUMP: muscular endurance and emphasizing strength training. BODYPUMP changed my life because it gives me the opportunity to focus on strength training for an hour. While I do like quick and sweaty total body circuits, BODYPUMP has revitalized my strength training routine. Strength training is a critical component of any fitness routine, and I love seeing BODYPUMP affect participants by encouraging them to strength train in a group atmosphere. I feel like strength training can be intimidating when you’re first getting started, and BODYPUMP helps to take some of that intimidation away. 


5) Yoga: mental wellbeing. I enjoy yoga as a workout, but appreciate it even more for the calmness and clarity I feel after practicing. When I haven’t practiced consistently, I can feel it. It’s always one of my goals to add more yoga into my routine. It can be challenging since I teach most days and I don’t want to overdo it, so it’s a goal to create time for more yoga in the new year.

Yoga pose  1 of 1

What have been your personal fitness game-changers? Has something totally changed the way you work out?

I’d love to hear about it!! <3

Have a lovely night.



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  1. Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola on December 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I would say my fitness game changer has been finding an activity that I really, really love, which is cycling. I find that it’s a great way to relieve stress while still getting in a good workout. I have become so much more physically activity once I realized how much I love being on a bike.

    • Fitnessista on December 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      i love how quickly spin classes go by, too! they’re so much fun, and such a great low-impact workout

  2. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on December 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Gina! When I first started taking BODYPUMP six years ago, it was seriously the first time I had done ANY resistance training. Fast forward to today, I teach a ton of classes and create a ton of workouts on my own using weights and other modalities. I think Les Mills group fitness was my biggest game-changer, because it got me lifting weights and now I teach it often! 🙂

  3. Jen on December 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I love this post.

    Pretty simple for me: yoga changed my life. Made me want to be a better me, so it lead me to try a bunch of different things to challenge myself physically & mentally.

  4. Amber Schumann on December 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Running has become my fitness game-changer. Mainly for the stress release and mental break that comes along with me just being by myself on an open road/trail rocking out to my music. It seems like the only “me” time I can get after having my daughter (and I purposely sign up for long-distance races to force the “me” time training into my schedule).

    I’d really like to give yoga another try someday. I tried it pre-baby and wasn’t a fan (I prefer high-impact, high-energy workouts). But now, I think it would do me a lot of good for the same reasons it does for you.

    Oh, and OTF be game-changin every day! Long live OTF!!! 😉

    • priya on December 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

      thats how i was, then i tried pilates, liked it, then found vinyasa & power yoga, and im hooked! you just gotta find the right kind and right instructor 🙂

  5. Britt@MyOwnBalance on December 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    My life changed when I took my first barre class. I instantly fell in love and still love it five years later. I would be lost without it. But, like you, I’m all over the place and love trying a ton of different workouts.

  6. Cara's Healthy Cravings on December 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Body Pump has been a game changer with my strength training. I have always been fairly lean, but after doing Body Pump for a few months I can see so much muscle definition, it’s crazy! I love the atmosphere of the class and am always anticipating the next class….that’s when you know it’s a good one!

  7. Cayla on December 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I agree that HIIT changed my fitness game. The first exercises I started doing were short 8minute circuits with 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds rest. I initially couldn’t finish the 8 minutes. The HIIT training eventually got me running, doing sprinting intervals, and now I have a wide variety of fitness I turn to.

  8. allison on December 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Lifting heavy weights and cutting way back on the cardio. I finally got into lifting, and I love it, but I still did lots of cardio. I had knee surgery almost 2 years ago and had to cut way back. My weight has never been more stable and I am in the best shape of my life. It was very scary to give up 50 to 60 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week, but I never do it now and couldn’t be happier about it or with myself.

  9. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on December 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Running and weight lifting are my true loves when it comes to fitness. But my game changer was swimming. It’s my yoga. It’s a great cardio workout that’s low impact yet it amazing for the mind and relaxes me. It has really helped me bring balance to my workouts. Looking forward to getting your book so I can try your HIIT workouts.

  10. Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries on December 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I’m right there with ya on BodyPump!! Love, love, love it!

  11. Linda @ the Fitty on December 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I love this list–I do everything except dance/zumba and lately I haven’t had access to any bodypump classes. I have to ask though, doesn’t your body eventually adapt to the demand of HIIT exercise? The more you do it in the beginning the more change you see in your body but now I’m fit enough that I don’t get the same benefit anymore.

    What do you think, should I take a break and come back to it to see if it’ll recreate that muscle confusion? I have a feeling my body is smart enough to recognize the demand again.

  12. Sagan on December 17, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    So nice to hear your thoughts on all of these!

    I’ve played around with so many different types of fitness, but the one thing I ALWAYS come back to is walking. Walking is something that I love because it’s low-impact, you can do it anytime and anywhere, and it has so many physical and mental health benefits… plus the added bonus that it doesn’t have to *feel* like a workout and it doesn’t require exercise clothes etc.

  13. Ali on December 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I love all of your game changers too! I also danced in school and really missed it as an adult. Going to ballet classes really helps to fill that void. Also yoga is just the best thing ever 🙂 I can’t wait to read about how your practice transforms as you move through your teacher training! It will seriously <3

  14. Alex @ True Femme on December 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Pure Barre has been my game changer, because it’s given me long, lean muscles and a lot of flexibility. I get asked all the time now if I’m a dancer but it’s really just Pure Barre. It’s also done a lot for my mental health, and I get such a boost of confidence from it. One thing I love is how the results I see are entirely from my own effort, pushing myself a little more each day. I’ve made it my goal to make 2015 the year of HIIT though! I owe that to you!

  15. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on December 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Weight training and yoga. I was always such a cardio bunny. Weight training changed how I looked at fitness and yoga because it has helped my flexibiity and always makes me feel centered.

  16. Angela @ HonestlyAngela on December 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Weight training has been a big game changer for me. When I started going to the gym I would spend so much time on cardio. I was all about burning calories and I exercised to be skinny. Weight training has taught me to exercise to be healthy and strong. My exercises aren’t about calories anymore, but performance. I still do cardio, but it’s because I enjoy it, not because I want to burn calories and lose weight.

  17. char eats greens on December 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I think these are all great!! I haven’t tried barre yet, but after reading it as an option, I switched over to Google and looked for one in my area (now that I live in an area that’s bigger and has it haha!), and I actually found a LivingSocial deal for a barre studio, so I miiiiiiiight be making a purchase shortly haha! I definitely think practicing yoga helps with my mental clarity too, just need to get back into it! There is so much more, fitness-related, that I would love to do. Just the whole child thing is where I get stuck. There are always solutions though, just need to figure them out. THanks for the great post 🙂

  18. Hannah on December 17, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    I would definitely agree with HIIT workouts. I used to force myself to do 40 minutes of cardio all the time but I didn’t see results (and a 20 lb weight loss!) until I started doing Tabata intervals with cardio AND strength. It’s hard to believe that shorter time works, but it does! Definitely converted 🙂 (that and my short attention span for cardio machines…..)

  19. Sara Crandall @ Lake Shore Runner on December 17, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Definitely HIIT classes! I love love love Sproing. There is only 1 studio nationwide but I know soon this concept will be all across the country. It is the only workout I have seen noticeable results from 🙂

  20. Elle on December 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Running for stress relief, weight training for confidence and yoga for relaxation

  21. Jess on December 17, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Oh I love this post! Hard question to answer! HIIT has been so important since I became a mum too. But I love dancing, running, just going to the gym, weights, etc. It just feels great to move, doesn’t it!?

  22. lucie on December 18, 2014 at 12:55 am

    I love your list! I tried Barre once when I was in Boston and it’s sad, we don’t have it here in Switzerland.
    For me, it’s absolutely clear, that CrossFit changed everything for me. It’s one sport that is so various, it ALWAYS challenges me and includes all parts of Fitness. I do like some steady runs or a Yoga class once in a while, and I also take regular HipHop classes – but CrossFit is definitely my passion.

  23. Jillian on December 18, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Running is my true love, but yoga is my game changer! It centers me, makes me feel strong and present, and helped me understand, cope with, and drop some of my hang ups… like worry and anxiety. I never thought I’d be a yoga person, but I love the mentality that it’s a practice; for me, that makes it more of a lifetime pursuit than a phase or hobby.

  24. Nicole on December 18, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Here, here for BODYPUMP! I’ve been taking it for years and recently started the process to become an instructor. What I love the most is you never master Pump – there are always ways to tweak your technique that will change the workout. Definitely a game-changer for me!

  25. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on December 18, 2014 at 5:09 am

    CrossFit!!!! It really taught me to push past my limits! I love heavy lifting and hitting new PRs in the olympic lifts.

  26. Cassie Vaughn on December 18, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Yoga and running are my fall backs that I always love to do. I have discovered that when I do high impact workouts – HIIT for example – that I push way too hard, burn myself out, don’t have any fun, and don’t want to do it again. Any advice for how to take it a little easier when doing a high impact workout so that I’ll want to return to it?

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      i think you should just try to be mindful of how often you do it. try once a week and see how it goes! if you want to add in another day, make sure you have a couple of days of rest of easy steady in between

  27. Crystal on December 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for this post, it’s interesting to read about how doing HIIT has positive effects on your fitness. You definitely look leaner in a lot of your pics, and so it’s nice to hear about how you’re doing it! And what a great tip for moms or other busy people who need a quick and effective workout.

    Lifting free weights was a big game changer for me. I used to only use those nautilus machines, and never felt like I was getting stronger, but when I started doing squats, deadlifts, etc, I noticed a big difference. Another one is adding variety–doing the same thing over and over is boring and doesn’t seem to give the same results.

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      thank you so much! i can tell a huge difference in all aspects of my fitness routine, and the past part is that i don’t need to work out as long/often with HIIT 🙂
      totally agree about the free weights! it’s an entirely different stressor, and usually burns more calories, too

  28. Kara H. on December 18, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Barre was and is the game changer in my fitness. My legs haven’t been stronger than they are now and my core is rock solid, well was before I got pregnant. But I love that I am so motivated to keep it up even though I’m 18 weeks pregnant and still going. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      it’s an awesome pregnancy workout!

  29. Katy Widrick on December 18, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I miss dancing with you.

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      i miss dancing with YOU!

  30. China on December 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Congrats on the les mills US Facebook page! My game chagers are BodyPump (can you say obessed?) and healthy living blogs like yours, which have really helped me be less afraid to try new things.

    • China on December 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

      *Facebook page shout out.

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      thank you so much for letting me know!! <3 xoxo

  31. Amber on December 19, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Love having a mix of different workouts too! OTF, Core40 and yoga are my favorites. As a SD resident, you must try a class with Andre Houle at LOVE Yoga. He’s the absolute best!

    Would love to try out one of your barre classes sometime! Do you teach at a studio in La Jolla?

  32. britt on December 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Gina YOU literally changed my fitness life with the winter shape up plan. I found a loveeee of building muscle and feeling strong and reshaping my body. Its my consistent type of work out that my body needs. I also love yoga as a compliment to a strength training focused workout routine to stretch my muscles and relieve soreness and stiffness

    • Fitnessista on December 19, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      <3!! so happy to hear that you loved WSU! i'm excited for this year's too :)

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