Coach Kelli: Exercise Truths and Myths

The mysteries that surround working out have kept some people from ever starting to exercise, caused others to injure themselves and others to train for years without ever seeing a positive physical result.

Is exercise a specific science with no grey area? Is it an art with room for interpretation?  Or is it both?  Could one exercise program fit all ages and abilities?  Maybe it depends on your body type or goals?  I think we can all agree that those infomercial models did not get their physiques, rolling, twisting or crunching on the latest gadget alone.

There are many questions that arise from both beginner and veteran exercisers as to the best, most effective and efficient exercises. After all, even the 14% of the population that exercises regularly does not want to spend more time than necessary breaking a sweat.

So, if your goals are to live in a lean body that is healthy, fit, flexible, strong and energized, what’s it going to require of you physically? Exercise used to be simple; we could follow Jack LaLanne on TV and feel good about ourselves.  Today there are enough exercise options to keep your head spinning.  Some are ancient; others brand new, some hybrids and others pull from sports.  There seems to be something for everyone from Cross Fit to Zumba, Kickboxing to Yoga, Vibration plates to Spinning and even Aqua Pilates and Combat Kettle-Jitsu. 

Each has its merit, and yet none stand alone as the only and best way to train.  Some of the things to consider when choosing or designing an exercise program are: Does it cover all components of fitness, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and fat burning?  For example, Pilates would include flexibility and muscular endurance.  Kettlebells include muscular endurance and cardio endurance due to the high repetitions. 

To do any one activity exclusively leads to imbalances, overdevelopment of some area’s and lack in others.  Imagine the physique of marathoner who runs without lifting weights or the flexibility of the body builder who never stretches.  Too much of a good thing can be bad. Have you ever seen the guy who loves to bench press, but avoids doing any leg exercises?  Our bodies are amazingly specific to how we condition it.  With the summer Olympics upon us, picture the physiques of each athlete and how it is adapted to its sport. Swimmers develop a wide back, boxers develop capped shoulders and a strong core, and gymnasts maintain a petite frame with powerfully explosive legs.  Your body will masterfully adapt to how you train it.

Our bodies were designed to move every day and the myth that you can’t exercise the same body part two days in a row simply is not true.  Some of the fittest warriors trained the same way day after day.  The myth that if a woman lifts heavy weights she will bulk up, also is not true. Female body builders spend hours on end lifting the heaviest weights, only put on a few pounds of muscle in a year’s time, typically with synthetic enhancing aids.  It’s also a myth that you have to exercise at lower heart rate zones to burn more fat. You will burn a greater percentage of calories from fat at lower percentages, with sleeping being the greatest, but it stands to reason that at higher intensities you are burning more total calories and more fat.

Another myth is that you have to exercise according to your body type or your blood type. If you are an endomorph (more of a round shape), you will have to be more mindful of your nutrition than an ectomorph (long and thin frame), but the same conditioning will enhance fitness equally.  Others believe that you need to do long cardio sessions to burn fat.  The truth is that short burst high intensity training is more effective for performance enhancement and fat burning as well as heart health. Long distance cardio athletes typically will have more fat than sprinters.  Oh and the ab machines will not rid you of belly fat.  Spot reduction is a myth.

People get stuck on false science and create “must’s” and “don’ts” that revolve around their fitness programs.  A tip may have been passed along by a workout buddy or magazine leading some people to never do cardio and strength in the same day and others only do cardio after weights and never before!  Some only use machines because they think free weights are not as safe – which is false.

I invite you to erase many the misconceptions you have built up about exercise, especially if you are not living in a firm and fit body as a result of your philosophies.  A program combining total body conditioning of your cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, fat burning and performance will produce the best results for ultra-health, excellent levels of fitness and the athleticism to put some action behind the physique!

What I have found is that if you can simply start exercising and continue a regular routine with progression, your body will quickly adapt with one of the first benefits being an increase in energy.  This morning, one man at boot camp, when asked what he noticed in his seventh week of training announced “I’M ALIVE!” 

What I love about the boot camp conditioning is that I am able to combine my 25 years as a fitness professional with 25 different certifications to bring about the most efficient and quickest physical change.  When campers show up, they never know what to expect except that they are in for a body transforming workout. We may do a kick boxing warm up, followed by an obstacle course conditioning speed and agility, moving on to a total body strengthening segment and finishing up with some Pilates for the core and flexibility.  Each workout is uniquely different but always combines all components of fitness and targets all of the major and minor muscle groups and bodies systems. 

If you are confused by which exercises are best, lack the motivation to remain consistent, have failed in your attempts to work out or simply want to have fun getting fit with those in the community who have come to understand that boot camp is a perfect solution for fast fitness and fat loss, I invite you to join the men’s or women’s camp.  Ultimately exercise is your fountain of youth and when combined with a detoxifying and nourishing food plan, the possibilities for wellness quickly await.


Kelli Calabrese is a clinical exercise physiologist, author, keynote speaker, consultant and for the past 6 years, the coach for Argyle Adventure Boot Camp in Argyle, TX.  To find out more, go to, e-mail [email protected] or call 817-490-1296.

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