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Coach Nicole Reveals Her Workout Routine

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most fitness experts and trainers have super-toned bodies that are sculpted (I can only assume) by many hours in the gym. How do they do it? How much time do they really spend working out?

I can't speak for them, but I can tell you what I do to stay in shape. My routine isn't crazy or impossible—it's pretty balanced. I'm always preaching about the importance of moderation and that is what I strive for when I work out. For me, it's not about how many calories I burn (in fact, I don't pay any attention to that), and it's not about trying to look better (although it's a nice perk, I've learned that focusing on the fitness instead of my appearance yields better results). It's about strengthening my heart, muscles, and bones. It's about feeling better about myself, maintaining a healthy body weight, and setting aside a small amount of time for myself in a day that's otherwise full of helping others. In fact, I exercise for all of the same reasons as most of you. So are you ready to see what my weekly routine is like?

As a full-time SparkPeople editor, my days revolve around deadlines and schedules. That's OK—I need the structure. But when it comes to my workouts, I keep things flexible. Rather than forcing myself to stick to a specific workout time or a certain workout on a certain day, I set a general rule that I will exercise, but I decide what to do that day on a whim most of the time!

No matter what, I meet these fitness goals over the course of the week:

  • Cardio: At least 4 days, lasting 10 minutes per session minimum. Typically, I'll work out for 30-60 minutes during each session. Spinning (indoor cycling class) is my workout staple, not because it burns the most calories. I do it simply because I think it's fun. But being that I am a fitness expert, I know it's best to change it up a bit, which is the only reason I also walk, use DVDs at home, hop on the elliptical, and jog on the treadmill or outside (weather permitting). I like to exercise at a variety of intensity levels—sometimes high intensity sprints, sometimes moderate, and sometimes easy breezy. All aerobic heart rates offer benefits, and I think that a variety is best—you can't expect your body to perform at a high intensity all the time, just as you can't expect to achieve a high level of fitness with low-intensity workouts alone.

  • Strength Training: At least 3 days. I'm always changing up my strength training routine because I get bored easily. I like to do a combination of body weight, light resistance and heavy resistance exercises because I believe that all of these strength-training techniques are beneficial and work your muscles and joints in different ways. Mat Pilates is my go-to strength training routine (twice a week), but I also include at least one other day of more traditional strength training—either light resistance/high rep work (Pilates Reformer, bands, hand weights) or heavy weights in the gym. I do different exercises every time because I get bored doing the same routine day in and day out. Usually, I don't even have a plan—I just look at what I've done during the week and try to balance it out with things that I haven't already done, hitting all of the major muscle groups.

  • Flexibility: Every time I work out. I spend 5-10 minutes stretching at the end of my workout—every time, no matter what.

  • A total of 5 days of exercise per week. I like to take two days off—usually Fridays and Saturdays. Because I like to be somewhat spontaneous with my workouts, I don't plan when I'll take my rest days—I sort of go based on how I feel. Knowing that I don't like to exercise on the weekends motivates me to meet all of my fitness goals for the week during the first 5 days of the week so that I don't HAVE to work out on the weekends unless I really WANT to.

So what does that really look like over the course of a week? It ends up looking like 5-7 days of exercise, usually totaling around 60 minutes per day. Sometimes I do just cardio in a day. Sometimes I do cardio and strength training. Other days I do a short, focused workout because I don't want to spend a lot of time exercising. And most often, I exercise in the evening after work (I am NOT a morning person).

I'm 100% flexible on what workout I do on any given day of the week, and I always have a backup plan. I tend to pack my gym bag so that I'll be ready for anything, but if the day wears on and I just want to go home, that's exactly what I do. As long as I'm meeting my general goals above by the time the week is over, I really don't care exactly how I get there!

OK so I know that what you really want to see is exactly how this breaks down on a daily and weekly basis. So, referring to my handy tracking calendar (that I love so much!), here are the actual workouts I did during a recent week:

  • Sunday: Spinning class (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility
  • Monday: Mat Pilates class (45 minutes) and running outdoors (40 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Tuesday: Pilates Reformer (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Wednesday: No exercise
  • Thursday: Mat Pilates class (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Friday: Spinning class (45 minutes) and kettlebell workout at home (20 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Saturday: Brisk walk outside (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility

Over the course of the week, I keep my weekly goals in mind and make sure I meet them. After each week, I can look back and analyze what I did and make sure I'm keeping things balanced. For example, I didn't lift any weights in the gym in this sample week, so I'd make sure to do more of that the following week.

I hope this goes to show that you don't have to be a marathon runner, yoga enthusiast, or gym rat to attain a well-rounded fitness program or be a fit, healthy person. There is no right or wrong way to do it—as long as you're sticking with a routine that works for YOU!

Does it help you to see how the "experts" really eat and exercise? What does your weekly fitness routine look like? Tell us below!

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I found this very encouraging. I am not someone who enjoys strict regimens...I much prefer having a general goal and then going with the flow as I work toward meeting it. I'm working toward increasing the frequency and duration of my workouts, and balance seems to be the key. Pushing too hard becomes drudgery and I lose motivation. Changing up what I am doing it and when also keeps it more interesting and helps me to enjoy it more. Report
I kinda found this discouraging. There is no way I could exercise anywhere near as much as this expert does! I don't have the time or the motivation! That is *a lot* of exercise a week. I'd like to hear an expert's take on what is enough exercise to do per week to stay healthy and in shape. I do maybe 30-40 min of cardio 3-5 times per week and some core pilates workouts (that I mix up) for between 10-40 min about 3-5 times per week. The high level of exercise presented in this blog seems to me to be unsustainable for the regular person. I know it would be for me. That said I think if I stick to my goals I am doing pretty well. Realistic goals help because you don't feel like you're failing every time you don't meet those high expectations you have for yourself, and so you don't get to discouraged. I like to set goals where I can be proud if I meet the upper echelon, but also know that I can realistically meet the lower echelon and still be satisfied that I am doing the right thing to meet my weightloss and health goals.

Just my thoughts :) Report
I like the idea of splitting up the exercise into smaller pieces throughout the day--I'm less likely to put off exercising if it seems more managable(like AM walk for 30 minutes, 10 minutes of upper body weights and 30 minute PM walk) Thanks! Report
Yes, it helps me to see what experts do to stay in shape. I like your flexibility with your workout, but that doesn't work for me. If I don't know when I'm going to exercise, it seems that other things get in the way. When I have a specific time designated for exercise, I am sure to get it in. I do like your variety of workouts. When I'm pressed for time, cardio is my fallback. Sometimes I struggle to get the weight training done. Your plan shows you can get cardio and weights in every week without spending hours and hours in the gym. Thanks for the post. Report
Thanks a lot!!!! It is very helpful to see how someone like you really does workout. Sometimes we get the impression that all fitness experts are like the Biggest loser trainers and expect all of us very overweight people to be able to exercise for many hours a day to get to where they are......so it is refreshing for me personaly to see how you do this!!!! You look great! Report
Thank you, I appreciate seeing what you are doing and what everyone is working on or with! I am an outside person and I find that my activities are generally lower intensity. This week I got four yoga classes at 1.5 hrs each, two days of 3 mile run/walk outdoors, one day of 3 miles indoors on treadmill and two more slow walks of about an hour each plus a one hour TaiChi class. I find I actually need two activities per day to make it all work...yoga and walking or 3 miles on the track and Tai Chi. Report
When I started SP eight months ago and was very inactive, I found I needed to plot out my workouts every single day. Now that I have retrained my brain to know that exercise is not optional in life, I am much more apt to follow my moods and listen to my body when it's time to exercise. Some weeks I'm all about a schedule and pushing myself hard. Other weeks I may take a few days off or do lighter exercise. I know it all comes out in the wash! Report
It always helps to see what the person in front of me is doing. Thank you! Report
Thank you for sharing, yes it does help me to get a different view on things and see some new exercises and and idet ideas!!! Report
I would have to say NO, seeing what experts are eating and doing to stay in shape does not help..nor motivate me..

Because we are all different and we all need to take care of our bodies in different ways and what works for one person will not necesarily work for another..that is why with most programs, WW included you will always see the disclaimer. :"Results not typical for everyone"

I have to motivate myself and get the diet that best benefits me..and my needs..

I don't really follow a strict fitness regimen, I do workout for 60 minutes 5 days per week, and at least 30 the other 2...
I try to incorporate strength as well, but right now I am focusing on the cardio, that is what my doctor as prescribed for me to focus on..
I strive to get in 12000 steps per day every day..

I use the treadmill, the elliptical and workout DVD's ranging from walking to taebo, and stretching as well as strength.. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Great to see what other people are doing, both CN and those who have commented thus far! But I am not as strict as anyone who has posted. Perhaps because I'm nowhere near "peak condition", I can easily settle for simply an improvement upon my old habits, rather than about 7 hours a week of exercising? I do have the time, but I also have work, family, friends, and animals to worry about, and sometimes they take precedence. My health is important to me, but what good would it do me if I couldn't do my job, hang out with my family, play with my pets, volunteer at the animal shelter, or go out with my friends? Me and my good health would be all alone. I prefer to try to strike a balance. Report
Thanks for sharing Nicole. Soon I too hope to commit to a routine. I am currently taking note of what & how much I eat, but the exercise is spur of the moment without and real schedule. I'll try harder. Report
How refreshing! It's nice to see that rigidity and long hours are not necessary to be fit and healthy. I like your plan of "whatever I feel like that day" and may try to adopt a bit more of that. Thanks for sharing! Report
Thanks for sharing, you always leave us with a gem! I know I need to focus on shorter time periods of exercise and know it is exercise instead of 60 minutes all or nothing. That is the mental death knell that I am in. I have gym days scheduled but since I have teens with social lives, their schedules can conflict and derail me. I'm gathering an arsenal of various workout videos so I can take back control and exercise from home when needed. It is really helpful to see your balanced approach on whole body health. Thanks so much, you always leave me thinking, planning, and anticipating the action! Report
Thanks Nicole! It makes me realize I need to more! I am older than you and I am trying to LOSE weight, so it was a good reminder, that not only to be healthy and fit, but also to lose weight, I need to increase my workouts. It makes it real to know what healthy and fit people do to stay healthy and fit. It doesn't just happen! Report
I walk before my day begins everyday!
I HATE spinning! even though I know it is good for me I can barely ever make myself take a class!
Our gym has a tiny spinning room and it smells terrible 15 minutes into the class
I try to do intervals on the treadmill, yoga/pilates classes, trainer 3x a week and an occasional dance or kickboxing class once a week
but I program myself to do something once a day
that way I have no guilt if I miss a day here and there
Nicole, you deserve a RAISE. Report
Thank you for your blog. It keeps things real and in perspective. I take each day as it comes and do what I am able that particular day. I try to do at least little of something each day. On my good days I do more. I wear a pedometer every day and try to move as much as possible. It was only 2000 steps a day and now I am up to 3000 working on 4000. I hope to make it up to 10,000 someday. Babysteps are better than no steps at all. Report
Thank you for sharing your routine. I agree that it is important to find exercises that you like to do, and to do them not just for losing weight. I am learning that a healthy lifestyle can be fun. Report
Thank you for sharing. For me, I need structure and I have a hard time choosing one workout over another. So, I have a color coded card file divided by day and workout type.

Monday: Cardio Video AM, Evening walk
Tuesday: Strength training AM, Evening walk
Wed: Cardio video AM
Thurs: Strength training AM, Evening walk
Friday: Strenth training with Yoga or Pilates
Sat: Cardio AM, evening walk
Sunday is a day of rest

I really enjoy the variety of workouts.(yoga, pilates, aerobics, strength training, mind body fitness, kickboxing, dance...) No time to be bored.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Just wish I could give myself permission to be less schedule oriented.

I'm not ready for intensity, but I am practising consistency and endurance. Report
So much of this sounds like me. I don't have a set schedule though. It's more like I'll set out to do 3 days of cardio and two of light cardio and weights. I'm flexible on what days I do them too. But I find it's not working for me anymore. I'm not keeping up with my workouts. So I think what I need to do is set out a plan for each day and write it down to hold myself accountable. Report
Coach Nichole, your fitness routine is just what I expected to see. Here's a typical week for me!

Sunday - Elliptical 35 or 40 mins at home
Monday - Mat Pilates 40 mins, weight lifting 20 minutes (to hit muscles Pilates didn't hit)
Tuesday - Elliptical 35 mins
Wednesday - Mat Pilates 40 mins, walk/run intervals 20 mins
Thursday - elliptical 30 mins, weight lifting
Friday - rest
Saturday - weight lifting at home Report
Do you consider yourself to be an exercise ADDICT???
Even your "alternative" activities sound to me like those of an addict.

If I am going to follow someone's lead, I like to know who they are and why they are doing what they do. Whatever the opposite extreme of "exercise addict" is -- I'm it!!! ( I guess that the current term for this behaviour is "exercise Bulemic".)

I know that I should do more (and varied) exercises than I do. But how can I tell if someone's program is "common sense" or "extreme"??????

Coach Nicole, I am glad to hear that someone else likes spin classes here's my workout schedule:
Monday - Spin class (60 minutes)
Tuesday - Spin class (60 minutes) and step class (60 minutes)
Wednesday - Spin class (60 minutes) and strengh training (60 minutes)
Thursday - Spin class (60 minutes)
Friday - Strengh trainin (60 minutes)
Saturday - Spin class (60 minutes)
Sundays - I rest.

You have to do 4-5 days Report
Thank you for sharing, Coach Nicole! I am somewhat stuck to my exercise-in-my -sleep cycling routine for 6 days a week. I also try to either walk, bellydance, or do some of your short videos (the ones for the New You Bootcamp) for 5 days a week. The weight loss is getting slower... but, it is still occurring!
i wish i can have more time for exercise also sigh Report
wow, I wish I can more time to exercise :( sigh Report
thanks for sharing:)....
i need a routine but generally i try to to 24 crunches, 24 rev crunches, 24 jumping jacks, and some squats and walking everyday....
I run 5 days a week for a total of around 25-28 miles, lift weights 3 days a week and try to walk at lunch at least 2 or 3 days a week. I really want to incorporate some yoga or pilates in once or twice a week for better flexibility and to increase my core strength too. Not sure where the heck to fit it in though! Report
Thanks Nicole
I am in an exercise rut know what I want to do but no time. Jazzercise a given easy first thing in morning. Then treadmill just beacuse it is there. I have tons of dvd equipment ect. This week a horrible in the car going nowhere and hating everyminute. Report
THANKS! that definitely helps!! :) Report
Coach, thanks for sharing your routine. Glad to know what really works for people and not just something I read in a book. I read every coach's routine blogs and articles and think they help. Report
Thanks for the great workout blog coach Nichole..I do not feel bad if i tke a day off.. Report
I'm usually more flexible but now that I'm training for a half marathon, I have scheduled workouts. Monday and Thursday I do a short run and weights, Tuesdays I do speedwork and yoga, Wednesdays I cross train (DDR) and yoga, and either Friday or Saturday is my long run. Beyond that I like to bike or walk but I just consider that a benefit, not part of my plan. When I'm not training for a race, I usually do 4 days a week split between DDR, running, the arc trainer, weights, and yoga. Report
Thanks, Coach Nicole, for sharing. Thanks, too, to all who have posted comments. I don't have a routine at all. Some days I get a lot of movement in, others, I don't. This has inspired me to get back to some semblance of a routine. Report
Thanks, Coach Nicole, for sharing. Thanks, too, to all who have posted comments. I don't have a routine at all. Some days I get a lot of movement in, others, I don't. This has inspired me to get back to some semblance of a routine. Report
My workout is alttile close to Coach. I workout 5 days a week with the weekends off. 30-70 mins. Every day I do cardio,strength is done 3 times a week. And some day's I do strength and cardio together. Report
I'm a little less flexible with my plan. Tuesdays and Fridays are always gym days for me. I may go to the gym on other days, take a walk or run, exercise at home, or not exercise at all. I do heavy lifting and cardio on my gym days, and an hour yoga class on Fridays. My goal is to burn 2000 calories a week. Whatever cardio I need to do, I try to do, but I don't reach that goal every week. I tend to plateau if I don't meet that 2000 calorie goal. On the weeks that I meet the goal, I almost always lose weight. I'm aiming for a healthy weight, and I'm almost there! Report
Thanks for sharing this- I found this to be extremely helpful. I've been struggling with exercise lately. I used to love it but lately I've been struggling to find the motivation. Thanks! Report
"it's not about trying to look better..."

I found that part of the article very interesting. It's funny to see what motivates different people. I, however, am constantly thinking "if I run that much farther, I will have better results & the sooner I'll be wearing that bikini." Granted, in the back of my mind I'm also thinking of health reasons. Diabetes is huge in my family history & I truly believe that all of my hard work (in the gym & in my diet) has kept me from having it.

Also, I think it's funny how Coach Nicole can do everything on a whim... I, however, need details. If I walk in the door to the gym and don't know what I'm doing ahead of time, I find myself spending more time walking around feeling clueless than I do working out. I subscribe to HERS Magazine and will often switch up my routine every couple of weeks to one of the featured strength training workouts. Cardio, I can be really lax about... that's easy to decide depending on my mood. If I'm not in the mood to go to the gym at all, I stay home and get on the elliptical. If I go to the college gym (which is very small and only has 2 treadmills and 2 ellipticals) I almost always opt for a 20-30 minute jog on the treadmill. When I go to Planet Fitness (if it's a cardio only day), I spend 20 minutes on each piece of cardio machines (treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike). But, all in all, I try to do AT LEAST 4 days of cardio & 3 days of strength training. Most often I will do cardio and strength training on the same day, so it turns out to be more like 6 days of cardio (which is always a feel good moment). Report
Flexible is the key!!! I agree totally. My goal is at lest 15 min of some sort of exercise every day. most day I do 45 to 60 min but some day I do just 15 to keep my streak alive. Report
Thanks for sharing with us. :) Report
Thanks for sharing! My routine seems very inflexible compared to you - my cardio is walking (just walking), and I strength train every morning at 4:30 - but this is where I would die if I didn't have your videos: I do 2 each day Mon-Fri and mix up whether it's body weight, ball, dumbbells, or resistance band. I usually do lower body one day, upper the next, core the 3rd, then lower, and a mix of upper/core. When I get really bored or stiff I take a week off from strength and do 20 m yoga videos. It works for me - I HAVE to work out the same time everyday, partly because I single parent a lot, and partly because it's my nature. Report
I have a very strict schedual I go to curves 4 days a week for a 40 min work out, I either walk or ride my bike to and from curves. always work out in the early morning. Then I ride my bike to work 4 to 5 days a week. I do nothing on the weekends, other than house work, shopping for my self and my Mom and laundry Report
Thank you so much for putting things in perspective for me! As someone who is losing weight slowly (but successfully), I tend to keep thinking I need to do more and more. I work out in the early mornings (when it's still dark), so I change up my routine between walking on the treadmill or Leslie Sansone DVDs for 45 min. I go to Jazzercise 4 days a week, which is a combination of cardio, strength and strectching. On weekends I go for long walks, and when the weather is nice I also walk my dogs for at least 30 min. And now that the weather is nice, I'm doing a lot of work out in the yard. I'm trying to be better about getting in more strength training twice a week. Report
I do a variety of things each week to keep the boredom away and work everything. I do walk everyday no matter what else I do though. Weights, yoga and the AB work out fill in the week with three spots each and as soon as the weather warms up I'll add riding my bike. I look at the week as a whole and not just a missed workout so success is possible. Report
My typical week is very similar to yours, not necessarily in the specifics, but in variety and intent. I teach 5 days/week (Pilates and interval aerobic dance right now). I have moved away from heavy weights (partly just because I don't have easy access) but am finding that stength training with Pilates, lighter weights, body weight training, and resistance bands are working just fine for maintaining muscles strength and endurance. I use a lot of yoga asanas in my classes and on my own for warm up, cool down, and stretching, but rarely practice it as a separate discipline anymore. My outdoor cycling is more just for fun and I also jog some but not competitively or with any type of set training plan. I have also found that even very short exercise breaks such as 5-10 minutes on my stationary bike or some body weight and balance work is beneficial, not for building strength or endurance, but for maintaining energy, alertness, and flexibility. And all of this has most definitly contributed to my ability to perform functional activities such as heavy yardwork, long periods of standing or walking, general lifting and carrying of weight, etc. With all of this, I don't even remember the last time I had a day completely without exercise, but this has just become my habit and routine and I still find I have plenty of time to relax or focus on other things. I wouldn't want to have it any other way. Report
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