Balancing Work, Life and Fitness!

A great way to find balance is to first identify the barriers to your balance.

Are your kids just too much work? Are you putting in too much time at the office? Commute killing you? Can’t sleep? Have too many social commitments?

You can fix these issues….the secret is in goal setting. Most barriers to exercise, goals and a fulfilling life that’s not too full, are not real, they are just perceived. The first step to beating your barriers is to write them down and brainstorm ways around them.

Do shorter workouts and multitask your moves. (That is why I designed my fitness DVD to fit an hour long workout in just 30 minutes.) Don’t feel like exerting yourself today? Do yoga, pilates or just take a walk to do your errands. Get more childcare, say no to one thing on your calendar this week, combine your socializing with friends with your healthy cooking or a fitness class, plan a family vacation with childcare and healthy eating and fitness excursions! Do mediation audioguides during your commute. Order groceries online instead of spending an hour shopping. It’s usually about freeing up time to fit in everything you crave in life.

Two items that will help you find balance come from my studies as a personal trainer and health coach.

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition uses a Circle of Life graph. This is how you will find what areas of your life are lacking in balance. These include creativity, career, spirituality, relationships, home life, fitness, home cooking, etc.

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 5.45.05 PMIn personal training, we change lives by motivating clients to  start the S.M.A.R.T. way, follow the guidelines us fitness trainers
learn when we are certified from Personal Fitness Training Theory & Practice pg 380):

Specific: Define your goal – for example if fitness is lacking, make a goal of by how many pounds you want to lose, miles to run, minutes working out, etc.

Measurable: Make the goal measureable so you are clear when it is achieved “I want to be able to go out with friends twice a week.”

Action oriented: write out the details  – for more family time as a goal, write out what times each week you will set aside, what the actives or memberships will be that you can commit to,  and what you will do, like you’ll go on a family bike ride each week, museum visit, playground excisions, etc.

Realistic: Chose an appropriate goal for you, don’t try to run a marathon, don’t quit your job, but maybe take summer Fridays off, sign up for a 5k, join a club with friends.

Timed: Set a time to measure your success, check in and re-asses. First day of summer?  The first of every month?

Wipe out excuses, start the S.M.A.R.T way, and fit in your fitness, work, life and find balance!

How to Avoid or Survive Sore Muscles!

As a health coach (in addition to being a trainer, group fitness instructor and video creator) I tend to steer people away from pills, gels, patches and other artificial chemicals and more towards easing into a workout to limit the soreness. That’s one of the reasons I created the NikkiFitness Anti-Aging Walking Workout and the Walking Workout with Weights videos.

All of my workouts videos were intense until I had my first baby. Then getting back into shape after time away felt like my lungs were on fire! I also had some celebrity clients who were older or coming back from car accidents for example. That’s why I created the walking workout. To ease people back into a workout if they are a beginner, coming back form an injury or childbirth, or taking care of their bodies as they age.



-Start slow and work your way up to hard workouts.

-Walking is a great place to start, then add some lunges and squats, then add in weights for the arms, then work your walk up to a one minute of jogging and one minute of walking intervals.

-SINGLE-task: If your legs are sore, warm up and get the blood flowing and focus your workout on your arms the next day, then maybe back the next, and maybe light cardio, maybe abs the next day. Work your way around your body at first. Wait to do multi-tasking workouts for when you are in better shape.

-Stretch after your workout and again the next day and the next.  Always warm up for about 3 minutes before stretching if not working out that day.

-I’m always the most sore two days after a workout. It’s called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). If you really pushed it, expect to be sore for 4-5 days

-Get a gentle massage

-Bathe in epsom salts (natural)

-Ice sore muscles

-Avoid classes with intense names like diesel, extreme, insanity, etc and instead take a restorative yoga class or pilates

-If you try a new piece of equipment, just do a few minutes or a few reps. Jumping on a stair master for 30 minutes will leave you in bed all day later in the week.

-And if that doesn’t work, repeat this mantra when you are walking down the stairs and feeling a little pain: “Better sore than sorry!”

 NIkkiFitness Anti-Aging Walking Workout Video 


NikkiFItness is a health coach, trainer, class instructor, media fitness expert, author of The Slimnastics Workout, a freelance fitness writer, product reviewer, and the star of 12 fitness DVDs/Videos/Apps including the new Anti-aging Walking Workout, Slimnastics Stability Ball Workout, the Seasonal Affective Disorder Workout, Hard Core Abs, Fit Travel Workout, Booty Camp, The Slimnastics Workout (Yoga+Plyometrics Fusion), Red Carpet Runway Workout, Military Wife Workout, Baby Bootie Camp, and the Beach Bride Destination Wedding Workout (Amazon). Nikki’s “Slimnastics” exercises have been featured in over 100 national media outlets including the New York Times, Live! With Kelly and Michael, Fox & Friends, GMA Health, Shape, Self, Fitness, and Women’s Health. Her “Improve the Move” workouts focus on multitasking toning and plyomentric cardio intervals (HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training) to cut workout time in half and boost metabolism. Nikki is an AFAA certified NYC personal (and celebrity) trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan, a student of IIN Integrative Nutrition®  School, and a 200hr RYT YogaFit/Yoga Alliance trained yoga instructor.She is also the “spokestrainer” for Huggies Little Movers and SilverSports antimicrobial fitness gear. Nikki got her start in fitness as a Syracuse University Cheerleader, where she graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Newhouse School. Search for “NikkiFitness” social media, and in iTunes and Android for the App! More at



(OM 7) One Move, One Mantra, One Must-Have: The S.M.A.R.T Way to Keep Your Fitness Goals

I planned to go for a run, but it snowed.”

“My week has just been too busy to get to a fitness class.”

“Everyone from work went out to happy hour so I skipped my personal trainer.”

“After taking care of the kids and running errands, I was just too tired to do that fitness DVD.”

“I just got laid off, so I don’t have the money for a trainer or a gym.”

What’s your reason for being bad to your body?

Whatever your barrier to exercise is, there is always a way to fit in your fitness. The secret is in goal setting—and what better time to start than today? Most barriers to exercise are not real, they are just perceived. The first step to beating your barriers is to write them down and brainstorm ways around them.

The most powerful barrier, expressed by many, is that they have been out of the workout cycle for too long. The answer is to get S.M.A.R.T. To make your fitness goal S.M.A.R.T, it needs be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and Timely.

The S.M.A.R.T system was developed by the Athletics and Fitness Association of America(AFAA) as a tool fitness trainers can use to motivate clients. It comes from organization’s text book, Personal Fitness Training Theory & Practice. Here’s how:

Be (S)pecific: Define your goal by how many pounds, miles, minutes, etc.

Make sure the goals are (M)easurable: For example: “I want to jog for 20 minutes without stopping.” Twenty minutes can be measured—and celebrated— when achieved.

Be (A)ction oriented: Write down exercise details such as the time of day you will exercise; the day and time a particular class is held; the day and time that will be set aside for a weekly bike ride and the distance you will go, etc. Also, give some thought to the days you will push yourself (Monday, Tuesday and Friday, for instance) and the days that will have easier workouts or rest.

Be (R)ealistic: Chose an appropriate goal. It’s not necessary to run a marathon; aim for 20 minutes of sustained movement to get you going and work diligently towards that goal. (When it starts to feel easier, you can add more time to your workout but that may take a few weeks.) Attaining a small goal builds confidence and helps keep you motivated.

(T)ime goals to a future date: Getting married? Want to make everyone jealous on the first day of summer? Husband coming home from deployment? Going to a class reunion?

Wipe out excuses, start the S.M.A.R.T way, and fit in your fitness!


If lack of time is a barrier to exercise for you, do shorter workouts and multitask your moves. (That is how and why I designed my fitness DVDs to fit an hour-long workout in just 30 minutes.)

I recently heard a woman refer to the underside of her arms as “bat wings.” I thought that was a funny way to describe that trouble-area that so many of us want to slim and chisel—the triceps. This move, which I call the French Press Lunge combination, can be broken down into two parts when you are just starting out. First, single task it and focus on toning your arms. Then, lunge for the legs and get your heart rate up and burn calories. Once you get accustomed to the moves, put them together and multitask the combo for even more timesaving toning and calorie busting!

Single-task: Start with a 5-10 lb weight and hold it with both hands overhead. Keep the elbows and underside of your arms close to your head and your chin lifted to look straight ahead, not at the floor. Lower the weight behind your neck and then lift it back overhead for one rep. Do 15-20 triceps French presses (named after the coffee maker), then put the weight down.

Now perform “elevator” lunges by separating the legs, right leg in front. Keep the feet separated and slightly apart like “railroad tracks,” not directly in line as if walking a “tightrope.” Keep your feet about 12 inches apart from each other, then maintain that distance as you step the leg back about 3 feet. You’ll know you are in correct lunge position if, when you bend your knees and lower the “elevator,” your front knee is directly over your front ankle, not over or past the toe.

Raise up and down 10 times, then switch legs. With the left leg in front repeat the move 10 times. (Trainer’s tip: Keep the back heel off the floor the whole time, see photo above, to make sure you are going up and down like an elevator, not forward and back like an escalator.)

Multitask the two moves: Separate the legs with the right leg in front and perform the elevator lunge at the same time as you do the French presses. Do 10 reps, then switch legs for the second 10, and continue pressing the arms down as you lower into the lunge, then raise the arms as you rise up and straighten the legs. After one set, put the weight down and do jumping jacks or jog in place, for 1 minute. Do a second set. Repeat one minute of cardio, then do set 3.

Still need help getting to that daily fitness resolution? Repeat this mantra… and fit that workout in before it’s too late today!


If you worked out when you first thought of it, you’d be done by now!


You might have read about probiotics in yogurt or heard eating them promotes a “flat belly” and helps with constipation. Probiotics do much more than that and there are better ways to get them in your gut than from yogurt which often has too much added sugar, fake chemicals, or leaves you with lactose issues.

Probiotics have many claims including: aiding in the digestion of nutrients, vitamins and minerals; increasing your immune system’s power; balancing PH; reducing the side effects of antibiotics; helping with IBS, obesity, diarrhea and constipation; reducing urinary tract infections (UTIs), reducing adverse reactions to cow’s milk, colds and kidney stones; improving the skin, kidney and liver functioning; reducing allergies, asthma and sinus infections; reducing ear infections and even helping with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. The gut is the powerhouse of your immune system, and the probiotics are essential to letting the gut to do it’s job.

The key in adding this powerful tool to your diet, is to get it from a good source. There are ways to cook (and buy) foods with lots of different strands of probiotics that may be better for you than the yogurt you find in grocery stores. Kefir is a product I like. You can purchase Kefir starter kits online that involve cooking milk, adding a powder, letting it cool on the counter overnight. Other good sources of probiotics are: sauerkraut, miso, kim chee, raw pickles, fermented vegetables, Kombucha, buttermilk, raw vinegars, olives, root and ginger beers, sourdough, beer and wine.

As you might have noticed, the modern western diet of refined carbs and fast food doesn’t include many natural probiotics.

If you don’t want to add them to your diet, probiotic supplement suppliers may be for you. I recently added a daily probiotic pill from Intelligent Labs to my routine in addition to eating more fermented foods. (I had started with an over-the-counter brand but then read that many of those bacteria die before they get into your system; getting them live keeps the microbiome in your belly strong.) I even lost weight once I started taking the new brand.

I also researched reviews of the various brands of probiotice. You can too by clicking here. You’ll see words like flora, acidophilus, CFUs, colonies, million/billion/trillion counts, and more, but don’t be confused or turned off.  Most brands I’ve seen cost between $30 and $50 a bottle.

Learning more about the benefits of probiotics may be the healthiest thing you do this month! So get “smart” in your resolution, workouts and your nutrition in this year!

OM 6: One Move, One Mantra, One Must Have: 10 Winter Blues Busters

Is winter getting you down? There’s no doubt that the slush, snow, ice, darkness and frigid temps can drain our stores of energy and make it tough to keep our New Year Resolutions. Finding the motivation to exercise in winter is challenging for all of us and is one of the most common complaints I hear from my personal training clients and participants in my weekly fitness classes.

Exercising in winter is extra challenging!

Exercising in winter is extra challenging but the key to feeling good during this dreary time of year is to get physical in spite of the weather.

Other less obvious reasons for low energy this time of year include: lack of exercise (yeah, I know, it seems like a contradiction but exercising really is energizing), lack of sleep, dehydration, poor quality of sleep (like those nights when you wake repeated to care for a crying child or to use the bathroom), consuming alcohol in the evening, boredom, making poor food choices that zap—rather than generate—your energy, sugar and caffeine crashes and a lack of fresh air (staying cooped up indoors inhaling the same stale air isn’t healthy for anyone).

Exercising outside when it’s dark and cold isn’t fun, I know (and can be dangerous in black ice conditions!), but there’s not much you can do to speed up the earth’s rotation schedule. The good news is, winter doesn’t last forever and besides you can always exercise indoors!

If you are feeling tired, depressed or lazy it’s probably nothing more than a mild case of the winter blues. Don’t despair, I have the antidote you need! (Note: Some people do develop a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder , or SAD, which is a form of depression that should be treated by a doctor or mental health professional.)

Nikki’s Top 10 Tips for More Energy

  1. Get fresh air every day from even just a cracked car window or doing errands, working out outdoors, etc.
  2. Keep to a sleep routine.  Go to bed at same time—I recommend 8 to 9 hours ahead of the alarm clock to account for interruptions.
  3. Drink 8 cups of water a day, but consume it early to avoid waking up for a pottie run. In other words, don’t guzzle the last 4 cups 2 hours before turning in.
  4.  Reduce caffeine intake from coffee. Try drinking tea instead. Tea has less caffeine and will enable you to cut out the highs and crashes.
  5. Eat less sugar.
  6. Drink less alcohol.
  7. Find a job/hobby/spiritual practice that you enjoy and can look forward to. If you love music, for example, indulge yourself. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Try listening to 15 minutes of whatever you like— without interruption. Sometimes a little inspiration from the arts goes a long way.
  8. Don’t overschedule yourself. Packing too much into a day is stressful.
  9. Plan something fun or inspiring to wake up your mind and make the time fly. A good book? A fascinating podcast? The sky is the limit.
  10. Get your heart rate up everyday for mood-boosting endorphins! If the weather is nasty, jump rope in your basement; take on the staircase; jog in place for 5 minutes.


I call this 60-second, energy-boosting move, The Snowflake:

Warm up for 15 seconds by either marching or jogging in place. Begin doing jumping jacks. Once you get into a rhythm, do one traditional jack, then make it harder by circling your arms and crossing them in front of you. As you circle your arms, jump up in the air, keeping your legs apart, and land in a squat. Then do a regular jack and continue alternating the two moves—jack and Snowflake—for 30 seconds. End with a 15 second march-in-place cool down. Bet you’re feeling invigorated now, aren’t you?

Watch this short demonstration of The Snowflake: 


I’m one workout away from a great mood!


My “Slimnastics Winter Workout” video is meant for keeping resolutions though the winter or if you’re feeling a mild version of the winter blues. Turn SAD into Slim And De-stress! The video was shot on a beautiful beach in Mexico to help put you in a warm weather vacation frame of mind, but all the moves are winter-sports themed. Think olympics.

A soothing yoga stretch follows the energetic plyometic cardio workout (plyometrics combines strengthening and lenthening moves). You’ll quickly experience the effects of the feel-good brain chemicals (most notably serotonin and norepinephine) seeping into your veins and the stress hormone, cortisol, retreating. Within minutes your body will go from sluggish to energized and your mood will lift, too. Don’t let winter bring you down from a Cardio High!