Category Archives: Blog

Is It After Yet

By Melanie Fensick.

Do you want to start working out but it just isn’t a convenient time? When will be a better time to start?

… after the holidays are over?
… after your schedule quiets down?
… after that big work/house project is over?
… after the party this weekend?

Is it after yet?

Adulthood is crazy. There are many important things that require our attention over fitness. But if you are waiting for the time “after” all that craziness ends you will never find it. When one project ends another one will start. You will get sick. The kids will get sick. You will get stressed. You will be tired. It will be dark, or cold, or raining out.

The cool thing about fitness is you don’t have to have a perfect schedule to enjoy the benefits of a good workout. It’s ok if this week is so busy that you can only fit one exercise session in. That one workout can give you a boost of energy to tackle the rest of the week.

You can use that one workout to take that free class at a gym you are curious about. If you don’t like the class, great! You are one step closer to finding something you do like. If you did like it, great! Now you can be motivated to return. And all of that was made possible because you didn’t wait until “after”.

You don’t have to be committed to a schedule to start your fitness journey. But you do have to start to have the chance at being committed.

So instead saying “after”. Start “now”. Or if you have to wait, set a date. Put it on a calendar. Tell family and friends so they can keep you accountable. Do all this so that plan of “after the holidays” cannot turn into “before the holidays”.

Published on: November 22, 2017


By Melanie Fensick.

It’s almost the end of the 2017. How is that fitness plan that you resolved to get going this year? Don’t worry if you’ve already lost many days (or even months) to procrastination. Starting NOW is miles ahead of never.

The way I see it, you have two choices, either start NOW or choose to sit on the sidelines and watch for yet another day. Which do you want?

You may be starting late and the path ahead may be long, but the only way to shorten that path is to begin NOW. That game plan gives you a head start compared to waiting for tomorrow.

If you do not start, you fail your goals anyway. So why fear failure? You might as well get in motion, make initial progress and learn from the experience.

That in of itself is a win and it’s truly where adventure is – participating in your goals and dreams. So get in the game – take a step – do something TODAY!

Published on: November 9, 2017

The Golden Rule of Fitness

By Melanie Fensick.

Have you ever wondered what the best time of day to workout is? Do you know if it is bad to eat after 7pm? I bet you’ve come across these questions before. Maybe you’ve even asked them yourself. What is myth and what is fact? Read on to find out!

The gym world is full of “do”s and “do not”s. But in reality there are hardly any hard and fast rules about fitness. In fact one of the only rules in fitness, the golden golden rule, is: THERE ARE NO RULES.

Humans are very complex creatures. We are all unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Some people believe you should only workout in the morning. It gives the body the greatest chance to burn fat.

Well I’ve tried working out in the morning and my body hates it. It just doesn’t have the energy for morning workouts. My workouts tend to be in the evening. Yup when many people want to be home relaxing, I’m in the gym jumping around. That’s what works for me.

And that “rule” about not eating after 7pm? I do it all the time. I have to! Because of my schedule I tend to eat dinner early. So if I didn’t eat something at night, especially after a workout, I would wake up in the middle of the night distracted with hunger.

It is the same with diets. What is the best diet? There is no “best” diet. Just because a low carb/high protein diet helped your friend keep weight off doesn’t mean it’s the right diet for you. Your body may react different. It may have different nutritional needs.

The key with all of this is to try something and then listen to your body. How does it feel after? If you feel good, great. If not, tweak it and see what works better for you. The journey of fitness is about experimenting. It’s about finding the happiest version of YOU, not molding yourself into what someone else thinks YOU should be. Let your uniqueness shine!

Published on: October 26, 2017

Why Your Arms Are Not Getting Firmer

By Melanie Fensick.

Have you done countless arm curls and kickbacks in the gym but your arms still feel like flab? Here is a quick tip to get over that flab plateau. Hint: More is not necessarily better.

In fitness there is a concept called the law of diminishing returns. Generally while lifting weights once you start doing more than 15 reps in a row with good form your body stops responding to the exercise.

In order to gain more strength and burn fat you need to increase the weight. Choose a weight that makes that last rep in your routine challenging and you feel your form starting to break down.

If that last rep is not challenging then your body will not respond with urgency and build muscle to meet the demand. So if you have been lifting the same 12 lb weights and you are no longer breaking a sweat, it’s time to up your game!

Published on: October 12, 2017

You Are Stronger Than You Think

By Melanie Fensick.

Does the phrase martial arts or self-defense intimidate you? Do you cringe at the thought of attending a class because you don’t feel coordinated enough? I feel you. I was the same way. But then I made a leap that changed my life forever.

I remember my first karate class as if it happened yesterday. There I was: a skinny, knock kneed, quiet, shy teenager with glasses and acne. I looked at myself in the studio mirror and thought “what the heck am I doing here?” I was not athletic or coordinated at all. Heck, I had to hold onto my instructor’s shoulder to learn my first kick because I couldn’t balance on one foot. Fast forward 7 years later after I received my black belt. I remember walking down the sidewalk and thinking “Gee all these people on the sidewalk don’t know what I CAN do.” That’s quite the switch from day one of karate class.

So what happened during that first class and subsequent classes that changed my picture about myself and how does it tie into The Higher Edge Fitness today?

Self-defense showed me that how I perceived myself was not who I really was. I may have felt uncoordinated and gangly but I learned that I can be in control. Even on day one I learned how to stop someone’s hand before it touched me. Then throughout the years, learning how to defend myself in many situations cemented that feeling of being in charge of my own world. That is quite an empowering thought! I also discovered physical power that I didn’t know I had. I may not have been a high school or college athlete but I learned this little body can pack quite a punch when needed!

If self-defense was able to show someone like me that I am stronger than I think, then I believe it can do that for you too. I believe every women deserves the chance to experience the empowering effects that self-defense has to offer. That’s why at The Higher Edge Fitness we offer self-defense seminars and kickboxing classes. It is also is why I try to infuse self-defense concepts into every other class whenever I can.

It is my goal to empower every woman that walks through my door so they feel stronger about themselves after every class. That is a big part of our “Confidence to Climb” mantra. Building strong women and giving them the confidence to reach new heights mentally and physically. So I invite you to come on in, take a class, or even just give one of our punching bags a whack and see how strong you really are!

Published on: September 14, 2017

How Aware Are You?

By Melanie Fensick.

How aware are you of what’s going on around you? If you were to close your eyes right now (after reading this blog of course) would you be able to describe what is directly behind you? If there is another person in the room do you know color shirt they are wearing? These may seem like easy questions to answer right now but what if you were to test yourself at random?

Sometime today, without prompting, just close your eyes (preferably when you are not driving or in motion) and try to recall all that is surrounding you. Try it at home and compare it how well you do in a public place like a grocery store or a friend’s party.

Being aware is vital to your health and well-being. In terms of personal safety, awareness accounts for 90% of your self-defense against a physical attack. By being aware of your surroundings you can avoid dangerous situations before they start and also know how to quickly escape one if needed.

So how do you become more aware? Practice. Every so often take some time to sit quietly and use one or more of your senses to notice the world around you. For example, can you see what people wearing? Can you hear cars passing by? Can you smell cigarette smoke nearby? Can you feel someone’s movements if they sit down next to you? (Taste might be a little adventurous so do that at your own risk!) But don’t forget the most important sense of all, your sixth sense. Practice listening to your gut, it is hardly ever wrong!

Awareness is also valuable in the gym. Being aware of how your body moves and feels is important for avoiding injury and in reaching goals. The more aware and “in the moment” you are during exercise the more focused your energy is to the right spots. Remember: “Where the head goes the body will follow.”

So next time you are at the gym shut out all outside distractions and really concentrate on the exercise at hand. Where do you feel tension? How is each muscle moving in sequence?

Becoming more aware of yourself and your surrounding will take conscious effort at first. But with practice it will become increasingly unconscious and in in turn will create a safer and stronger YOU.

Published on: August 31, 2017

The 3 Ps of Weight Training

By Melanie Fensick.

Like to use free weights? Free weights are a great and inexpensive way to gain strength and build muscle. But in order to reap the benefits of a free weight workout, you need to watch out for the 3 Ps of weight training. Can you guess what those are?

The 3 Ps of weight training are: Posture, Pace, and Pulmonary (ok I admit I took a little poetic license on that last one). But here is how each one fits into your weight workout:

Posture: In a world where we are used to being slumped over our computer screen, it is easy to forget about good posture. Good posture means a position with a tall, engaged core with shoulders back. Good posture during weight training is so important. Without good posture you put a lot of pressure on your lower back and other muscles instead of engaging the muscles you want to target with the weights. Good posture also wards off injury.

Pace: Pace is important in weight training because without proper pacing of reps you either don’t let the muscles work enough (too fast) or you let them rest too long (too slow). A general rule to start with for weights is 2 seconds out and 2 seconds to return. And immediately start the next rep once you return. That means each rep should take about 4 sec. So 15 reps should take 1 min.

Pulmonary: Pulmonary stands for breathing. You need to BREATHE when you exercise. Breathing helps supply your body with oxygen so you don’t get tired as fast and gives you that little extra energy push you need to finish that last rep. The rule with breathing is to breathe out on the most difficult part of the exercise and breathe in on the easier part. Not sure which part is easier or harder? Try putting the exercise into every day terms. For example a squat is similar to picking up a box from the floor. Is it harder to pick up the box from the floor (fighting against gravity) or place it down?

So there you have it, your 3 Ps for proper weight training. Next time you grab a pair of dumbbells pick one of the Ps to focus on and see what a difference posture, pacing, and pulmonary (breathing) make on your routine. Happy lifting!

Published on: July 20, 2017

The Journey To 10,000 Steps

By Melanie Fensick.

Are you trying to get your 10,000 steps in today? Today, the media, health professionals, and even our fancy fitness bands tell us to aim for that universal 10,000 steps per day goal. But where did this number come from? And is it the right goal for you?

The 10,000 steps per day goal can be traced to Japan in the 1960s around the time of the Tokyo Olympics. During that time there was an increased focus on fitness. To capitalize on this, a Japanese company created a pedometer they called “Manpo-Kei”, which literally translates to “10,000 steps”. The pedometer was adopted by Japanese walking clubs and thus the 10,000 steps per day goal was born.

Is this goal still relevant today? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 30 min each day during a 5 day work week. The average person takes about 6,000 steps per day doing daily activities. It takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps for a brisk 30 min walk. So it appears that a regular day of work, school, and home life combined with a brisk walk each day is a good match for the CDC’s recommendations.

Keep in mind that step counts vary greatly from person to person so the number of steps you take each day may be different. My suggestion, if you are trying to better your health through more physical activity, get a pedometer or fitness band to track the average number of steps you take during a regular day. Then find ways to beat that number each week. A brisk walk, especially outdoors, is a great way. But there are so many other options as well. Below I list several ways to get extra steps in your day. Feel free to pick one to try it out. Remember, the only wrong way to get started is to not start at all. So let’s get walking!

1. Take a walk while waiting to pick your child up from school, soccer practice, piano lessons, etc.
2. Keep a water bottle by the office water cooler so you have to walk over there to get a drink.
3. Place your phone in another room so you have to get up each time you want to change the send a text.
4. March in place or pace around during phone calls or during TV commercials.
5. Go for a walk on your lunch break with a coworker and after dinner each night with your family or a neighbor.
6. Walk to the furthest restroom in your office or whatever public venue you are at.
7. Park farther away than you usually do at the mall or grocery store.
8. Walk a lap around the mall or grocery store before you start shopping.
9. Propose a walking meeting at work instead of sitting in the conference room.
10. Next time you’re at a theater performance or sporting event, walk around at intermission instead of remaining in your seat.
11. Walk to the convenient store a couple blocks away to pick up milk instead of driving there.
12. Instead of meeting a friend for happy hour, go for a walk at the nearest park to catch up.
13. Run errands during your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk.
14. Instead of calling, walk to your coworker’s desk or work area.
15. Get competitive: challenge a coworker or friend to see who can complete more steps in a week. The winner buys the other lunch!
16. Get off the bus one stop sooner and walk the rest of the way.
17. Never take the elevator or escalator.
18. Set hourly walking reminders on your phone or computer.
19. Take a dance class or have a dance party with your kids or friends.
20. Skip the drive-thru at the bank, pharmacy or restaurant and walk inside instead.
21. Walk on the treadmill or follow a walking workout video on YouTube if it’s dark or unsafe to walk outside.
22. Go pick up your lunch instead of ordering takeout.

Published on: July 06, 2017

Abs Are Not Just About Crunches

By Melanie Fensick.

When I say “ab workout” what do you think? Crunches? Actually working your abdominals involves a lot more than just crunches.

Your abdominals are a complex series of muscles that surround your trunk. There are the external abdominal muscles, like the rectus abdominis (which is what people refer to when they say “6 pack abs”) and the external obliques. Then there are the internal abdominal muscles which include the transverse abdominis and internal obliques. Your obliques and transverse abdominis are what help when you are leaning over or off balance or rotating side to side. The rectus abdominis is the muscle that flexes your trunk.

When you do crunches you are doing trunk flexion. To build strong abs though you should incorporate motions and situations for all of the different ab muscles. Think about it, how often in life do you find yourself suddenly flexing your trunk like you do in a crunch? Compare that to how many times you find yourself twisting, turning, leaning, or unevenly loaded down with something.

Here are some ideas to make your ab routine more profitable:
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Diagonal Chop:


1. Stand holding a weight in both hands. Place your feet wide apart, pointing slightly outward.

2. Raise the weight to one side of your head with arms slightly bent. Rotate head and body in the direction of the weight.

3. Bring the weight downward diagonally across the front of your body to the opposite hip by rotating torso and bending forward slightly.



One Sided Carry:


1. Firmly grasp a weight with one hand, arm straight by your side. Stand up tall, shoulders level and back. Do not let the weight touch your body. The key to making this a useful exercise is finding a weight that feels heavy to hold.

2. Just standing tall, not letting your body lean to compensate for the uneven load is working your abs already.

3. Walk across the floor keeping your shoulders level and the weight away from your body the whole time.



Published on: June 17, 2017

Conquer Your Can’t

By Melanie Fensick.

There is a saying “Wherever the head goes the body goes.” It’s true. Have you ever found yourself looking at something while you’re driving and notice your car moving in the same direction as your eyes?

What happens while you are driving happens in fitness too. Whatever you focus your mind on that’s where your body follows. If you are determined to learn a particular sport you no doubt dedicate yourself to practicing it. Likewise, if you have the belief that you can’t do something, you will steer away from it.

We all face obstacles on our quest to be healthy and fit. The problem is not about the obstacle but about our negative focus on it. So often we focus on what we “can’t” do and forget to look at what we “can” do instead. And because of this we often miss out on the opportunities we have to improve ourselves every day. A small change of thinking in the positive direction can go a long way. Here are some examples of how you can conquer your “can’t” thoughts by turning them into “can dos.”

“I can’t exercise because…”

“…I don’t have the time.” Exercise is not just about carving out an hour of your day to go the gym. Take a 15 minute walk around the block. Have a walking meeting at work. Jog in place while watching commercials. Any little bit that keeps you moving is exercise.

“…my knees/shoulder/other body part hurts.” Do an exercise that doesn’t involve that body part. Visit a trainer to learn ways to work around your injury until it is better.

“I can’t eat healthy because…”

“…I don’t have time to plan my meals.” You don’t have to plan a week of meals to get started. Start with just one meal or snack a couple times of week. Then gradually add more meal planning as you get used to it.

“…I travel a lot for work.” If possible, bring healthy food/snacks with you on your trip. Research the healthier food options around you before you go. Nowadays, healthy options are becoming more and more plentiful.

Now it’s your turn. What are your “can’t” thoughts about health and fitness? How can you turn your negatives into positives and turn obstacles into opportunities?

Published on: May 18, 2017