Amy's Transformation

The main reason why I love what I do is because I get to connect with people on a personal level. I coach them through workouts, provide nutrition guidance, and teach them to love the journey to fitness. It's called Personal Training because every client is unique; what works for one may not work for another. Regardless of who I'm training my goal is to teach them that fitness is a lifestyle that requires healthy habits and lots of effort. There is no easy way to reach fitness goals, but a lifestyle change is possible for everyone and totally worth it. I’m on a mission to help my clients look and feel their absolute best while loving the body they are in.

Last month marked a year and a half working with my client, Amy. In this amount of time she has made a huge body and mind transformation. After moving to Palm Beach from out of state she felt it was time to take control of her health. Like so many women all over the world she once struggled with negative body image issues. Her previous workouts were sporadic, consisting of mostly cardio and rarely any weights. She came to me for help and was open minded from the very first day. We started with a 3 day per week in-home training program introducing weights, core work, and focusing on proper form. After quickly getting the hang of things she started to notice a gain in energy and a huge increase in motivation. She was determined to get the fit body she deserved. Now, a year and a half later, she trains with me 5 days per week where I incorporate weight training, TRX, HIIT, battle ropes, cardio, and lots of core work. I give her challenging and effective workouts that burn fat and build a strong toned body. We discuss healthy recipes and diet tips daily that nourish and fuel the body. She’s become extremely fit (I mean, look at that bod!) and the increase in confidence I’ve seen has been incredible. While juggling wife duties and being a business owner, she demonstrates that self-improvement is possible (and necessary). Day in and day out she stays committed to her wellness and I could not be more proud. 

 Overcoming negative body image issues, eliminating an unhealthy relationship with food, and finding a strong workout routine is what I like to call positive behavior change. Understanding that NOTHING happens over night is the first step to getting fit. Hard work and consistency over time is what leads to success and lasting results. My goal is to empower and inspire others to take control of their bodies by sharing Amy's success story. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my passion with others every day while building relationships with wonderful people along the way.

 Before i after

Before i after

 July 2017

July 2017

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Always remember: the most important investment you can make is in yourself.

Knee Friendly Fitness

It’s been a little over five weeks since I tore my ACL and I can definitely say that it's been a humbling experience. My injury has not kept me from training clients and teaching my weekly barre classes. However, the real challenging part of this whole experience is having to drastically change my own workouts and knowing when to rest. Since running, barre workouts and group fitness classes are out of the question, I've had to find other ways to safely raise my heart rate. I’ve managed to work around my injury and still perform some killer upper body and core moves. Lately, I’ve been lifting heavier weights and using battle ropes for (seated) cardio. It’s so important to continue to move even when you’re faced with difficulties. Not only to stay healthy and in shape, but also for the mental health benefits of fitness! Each week I gain motivation and feel more prepared to tackle my surgery. Check out one of my workouts below.

Battle Ropes (3 sets total):

  • Alternating Waves – 45 seconds
  • Double Waves – 45 seconds
  • Russian Twist Slams – 45 seconds

Dumbbells (3 sets total):

  • Chest Press – 15
  • Seated Shoulder Press – 15
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 15
  • Chest Fly (legs raised) – 15

Floor (3 sets total):

  • Triceps Dips - 15
  • Pushups - Close Triceps Position (pad for the knees) – 15
  • Weighted Sit-Ups - 15
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Follow my Instagram stories for daily clips of my diet, clients’ workouts and my pre-surgery workouts! 

When life gives you lemons...

This month I took an adult spring break and traveled to the mountains for a getaway. My friend/former client moved to beautiful Crested Butte last year so I was extremely excited to visit her, breathe the mountain air and throw on some ski gear! Things get a little hectic here in South Florida so I had really been anticipating this trip. Crested Butte is a charming town way up in the Rockies that’s filled with avid skiers, snowboarders and lots of active people. During my second day skiing on the mountain, I decided to try a run that was a little bit more challenging. The conditions were perfect and the vibes were just right, so I went for it. As I started picking up lots of speed I realized it was time to start turning my skis to slow down. I somehow made a wrong move and ended up taking an epic fall, keeping both poles in hand and both skis on. It was such a chaotic crash due to high speed that it took me a few moments to gather my thoughts. Immediately I knew that it was going to be bad. I was able to move my legs and arms, but very slowly. I had extreme pain in my left elbow and throbbing in my right knee. My adrenaline was pumping but all I could do was lay on the snow, look up at the blue sky and wonder how the F I was going to be able to shake this one off. Truth is, I’ve never had any real physical limitations. I’ve been athletic since I could walk and my entire life revolves around fitness and having to be on my A-game to help and inspire others. After returning home, the swelling was horrible but I managed to still train my clients and teach one barre class during my first week back. (This slow-paced life is for the birds!) When the MRI came back showing I had ruptured my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of the four main ligaments of the knee) in my right knee, I immediately got that sinking gut feeling and I knew things just got real. I’m not one to cry often, but I completely broke down. I felt terrible, totally hopeless and instantly began thinking all negative thoughts. What if I’m not able to regain the strength I had in my leg? What if this seriously impacts my business? What if the scar is big? Surely I can’t book any photoshoots with an ugly scar! That all went on for about twenty-four hours. (OK, maybe forty-eight.) But then I had a lightbulb moment. Yes, tearing my ACL is a setback and will take time, but things could be worse. So I had to give myself a pep talk, just like I would give to any one of my clients. I’m alive, strong, and with motivation and hard work, overcoming this obstacle is possible. With the expertise of a great surgeon and diligent rehabilitation, I’ll be on the road to recovery. In the meantime, I’m still able to work on my upper body and abs, and keeping a super clean diet will be key. I’m considering this to be a major learning experience and I’m not accepting failure. I will run, jump, squat and even ski again. Getting there may not be a walk in the park, but I’m capable of taking on the challenge.

Follow me on instagram for all things fitness, clean eating and updates on my recovery process! Catch me at the barre this week at Fitness Hub - Tuesday 5:30pm and Friday 10:30am.

Have a great week!

♥Liv

Fall fitness in Colorado

Earlier this month I took my first trip to Colorado and boy was it beautiful! My client was getting married in Aspen so I decided to head up a few days early to do some exploring (and also escape hurricane Matthew) in the Rocky Mountains. One word: breathtaking. Not only was I literally out of breath due to the altitude, I was blown away by the beautiful scenery. Driving from Denver to Aspen was one of the most beautiful car rides I’ve ever experienced, along with the many hikes between Denver and Aspen. It was super exciting for me to finally see snow (crazy, I know) and enjoy some cool fall weather in the cozy towns of Colorado. During my stay in the mountains I was able to be just as active as I am at home - major plus! I loved how the Colorado community as a whole, especially Aspen, was very fitness friendly. But getting ready for a workout in the cold is no joke and takes a little extra motivation. I nearly froze one morning walking twenty minutes across town to take a yoga class. Aside from all the fun exploring and other perks of being in Colorado, I was beyond thrilled to be in Aspen for the first time for such a special occasion. The bride and I even got to sneak in a training session at the St. Regis gym the day before the wedding. It's amazing to see another one of my fit brides walk down the aisle looking confident, happy and absolutely stunning. Months of hard work and clean eating (even before the engagement) are continuously paying off. I’m so proud of her and how far she has come! As I said before, a fit and healthy lifestyle is a never ending journey, but a wedding can definitely act as a great motivator.     

 

 

Fig & Strawberry Protein Shake

Aside from eating clean and wholesome foods, I’m all about eating seasonally and summertime fruits and veggies are my favorite. Lately, I have been unable to resist buying fresh figs from Whole Foods since they can be hard to find. They're delicious in breakfast bowls and smoothies. I threw a couple in the Vitamix along with strawberries and a few of my other favorite ingredients. It’s the perfect summertime morning protein shake.

  • 2 figs
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1 scoop of Raw Protein
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 large ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ tablespoon local bee pollen

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Dumbbells before wedding bells

With wedding season in full swing, it’s no surprise that there’s been lots of wedding buzz going on during my work days. Whether it’s your own wedding, walking in a bridal party or even just attending as a guest – weddings can be a big deal. It’s one of the biggest and most memorable days of a bride’s life and everyone wants to feel their absolute BEST on their big day. One of my best friends recently tied the knot in June and three of my current clients are preparing for their weddings in the fall. As I always tell my clients, being fit is a lifestyle that requires consistency over time. However, I’m all for setting goals and CRUSHING them so a wedding can be the perfect motivator!

On New Years Eve 2015, my client/friend Kathleen married the man of her dreams. Not only was I there to witness their union, I had the honor of walking as a bridesmaid. She came to me with a goal four months prior to her big day and was ready to rock. Coming from an athletic background, she had great strength and working out was something she enjoyed. But it was time to kick things into high gear – challenging workouts, meal preparation and tons of motivation. She trained with me five days per week in the gym and would sometimes throw in a barre class on the weekend. Aside from the physical benefits of training, working out helps to minimize any wedding planning jitters (it’s a real thing!). We also spent lots of time in the kitchen together cooking delicious and healthy meals to ensure consistent clean eating. With all the hard work and dedication, Kathleen’s results were showing…and fast. So fast, that with each visit to the dress designer the dress had to be taken in. (Although she was looking fab, I don’t think he was too happy with me.) Her wedding turned out to be beyond perfect. She was glowing, healthy and stronger than ever. Looking stunning in her wedding dress was also a plus!

As for my current brides-to-be, they are on the same path and I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’re staying focused with awesome workouts, daily motivation, lots of clean eating and having so much fun along the way. Truth is, even with a wedding planner the preparation seems endless. Not to mention juggling work schedules and other things that life throws at you. (Major props to Kandace for working crazy hours per week at the hospital but still managing to make time to stay wedding-ready!) Just remember that it’s all worth it and hard work always pays off.

Cheers to FIT brides!

Say YES to Weights

When most people hear the words “strength training” they immediately think of body building, power lifting or strenuous workouts. To the average person or someone newly into fitness, strength training and using weights can be intimidating. A lot of people think that strength training is only associated with athletes and experienced individuals. Although I believe any form of exercise or movement is beneficial, incorporating weight in some or all of workouts is crucial.

As we age, we face an inevitable decline in bone density and muscle strength. It has been scientifically proven that aerobic exercise alone is not enough to sustain bone health, muscle tone, posture and an all-around functional body. Stronger muscles lead to stronger bones which can prevent injuries and osteoporosis. Strength training can involve dumbbells, stationary machines, weighted bars, suspension training and resistance bands. The intensity of strength training routines can vary and can be suitable for any level of fitness. For individuals who are trying to lose weight, weight bearing exercise is needed for fat loss.

Being a female in the fitness industry, I am constantly being asked by other women about my views on lifting weights. Not only am I in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, but I also teach barre which is known for little to low weight and high repetition exercises. The idea that weight will make someone look “bulky” versus “long and lean” is a common misconception and could not be further from the truth. I have often heard well-known trainers discourage women from using challenging amounts of weight and I am constantly encouraging my female clients to eliminate this mentality. With proper form, a great workout routine and a balanced diet, weight training can take your body to the next level of awesome.

With clearance from a doctor and expert advice from a fitness professional, anyone can start a safe and effective workout program which incorporates strength training. If you are still not convinced, the fact that you don’t technically need a gym membership to maintain a routine should seal the deal. All you need is a set of dumbbells to get started in your home, garage or outdoors. Eventually, a beginner starting with minimal time and equipment can progress into more advanced movements and longer workouts. Aside from the physical benefits of strength training, it increases cognitive performance, mood and confidence for both men and women of all fitness levels.

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Feliz Cinco De Mayo

To some people, Cinco De Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French forces. But for most people here in the US it's the day where people of all ethnicities put on their sombreros and hit the nearest bar for tacos, burritos and mucho tequila. For me, Mexican food is not something I take lightly - it is hands-down my favorite type of food. But it wasn't until my trip to Mexico in 2015 where I really learned about authentic Mexican dishes and how they were much different from what I was used to. In Mexico, a simple taco exploded with flavor and all the salsas were made daily with fresh ingredients. Here in South Florida, Mexican food often means an overdose of cheese, salt, sour cream and not enough flavor. I am constantly inspired to make my own delicious (and CLEANER) dishes and always trying to find ways to replicate what I ate during that beautiful time spent in Mexico. Check out this simple recipe for shredded chicken tacos and guacamole below. 

Shredded Chicken Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used organic Que Pasa)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chilis
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In slow cooker, combine chicken, salsa, chilies, chili powder, garlic, pinch of salt and teaspoon of pepper. Cover, cook on low for six hours. 
  2. Transfer chicken to a serving bowl and shred with two forks, moisten with cooking juices.

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 or 2 limes
  • 1/2 red or white chopped onion 
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped and seeded

Directions:

  1. Cut avocados in half around the pit, then scoop flesh out into a mixing bowl. Add lime juice and mash avocado leaving a few chunks.
  2. Add all other ingredients. Serve immediately.

 

This time, I used organic taco shells and skipped the chips for the guacamole. Carb conscious? Throw all ingredients over lettuce and turn it into a yummy taco salad.

Salud, amigos!

Chickpea Coconut Curry With Sweet Potatoes

Happy Monday! I wanted to spice things up and start a new week with a new recipe. I knew I wanted to make something really different from my usual go-to meals and I've been really craving chickpeas (packed with protein and fiber!). So I googled some recipes in between clients this morning and came across this gem on Popsugar.com. It's filled with chickpeas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach and SO much flavor. I rarely eat rice, but having this curry dish over brown basmati rice was delicious. I'm a crockpot fanatic so of course I am always up for new healthy dishes to try for dinner and next-day lunch. This was the perfect meal to come home to after a long Monday - and my house smelled amazing. 

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Ingredients

Curry:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons minced ginger
15-ounce can chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups canned or boxed chopped tomatoes
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, chopped

Coconut rice:
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan and sauté onion, garlic and fresh ginger for about seven minutes.
  • Transfer the onion mix into slow cooker and add remaining ingredients except for the spinach.
  • Cook on low for six hours.
  • Before serving, stir in spinach and cook for about five minutes.

Rice

  • Add rice, coconut milk, salt and water to a sauce pan.
  • On high heat, bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about forty minutes.
LivFitness_CoconutCurry

AMAZING! Enjoy.

Remember: You can't out-exercise a bad diet to achieve your goals. Make it a great week!

♥ Liv


LivFitness On Deck

One of the most amazing things about being in South Florida is that you can pretty much always take your workout outdoors. Anything from running, bootcamp, suspension training, barre and yoga can be done outside during almost any time of the year. My personal training sessions and classes are typically done in a private gym, in-home or in a studio setting. But sometimes I have to “think outside the barre” and get creative for effective on-sight training. I’ve trained on the beach, in hotel courtyards, on polo fields and with stand up paddle boards just to name a few. In this case, I’m talking a luxury yacht called the Top Five. Anchored seasonally in downtown WPB at the waterfront, this mega yacht was the location for Thursday’s sunny, barre-inspired workout. We set up the space so it was fully equipped with mats, small weights, towels and music. There was plenty of deck space for floor work and big movements. We used the rails of the yacht as a barre and also for stretching. The weather was absolutely perfect for a group fitness session, bright and breezy with an incredible view. This was the second year I’ve taken this same deck and turned it into a space to sweat for a bachelorette celebration group. These girls came to visit at the perfect time and had big plans for their stay in West Palm Beach. What’s even better is that this awesome group chose to make fitness a part of their fun-filled party weekend (serious bachelorette party goals!). So excited to be back on board again this year and looking forward to more LivFitness on the water.

 

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Yacht_LivFitness_Workout_WPB
 2015 Workout

2015 Workout

Monday Motivation - TRX legs

One of my favorite pieces of equipment to use in and out of the gym is the TRX Suspension Trainer. Using the TRX, you take body weight exercises to another level. During every exercise, the core must be engaged in order to stay balanced and stable. When it comes to my leg workouts, adding suspension training to my routine is crucial. Since I absolutely LOVE any exercise that challenges balance, I am able to perform tons of great single-leg exercises with the TRX that really burn. Below are a couple of my favorite leg exercises.

Front Squat

LivFitness_WPB_Fitness_TRX

Set up handles under the arms, close to the chest. Walk feet back until body is in a strong plank-like hanging position, heels up. Keeping weight forward into the arms and heels up, bend the knees to a squat then return to straight legs. Perform three sets of fifteen reps.

Abducted Lunge

Stand beside the suspension trainer with one foot in the cradles and the other leg on the ground. Bend the supporting knee while extending the straight leg side, keeping tight abs and an open chest. Return to standing by firmly pressing into the ground with standing leg. Perform three sets of fifteen reps.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @livfigueroa for more fitspiration!

Make it a great week

Love Your Legs

When it comes to women and fitness - toned, sexy legs are the most desired over any other body part. Living in South Florida where we’re in shorts, dresses and bikinis during any month of the year, most women are determined to get their stems in shape. After many years of dancing and training, I have learned the best ways to achieve major leg goals. My best advice for anyone focused on improving their legs would be to add variety. Performing multi-planar movements, weighted exercises, body weight exercises, single leg exercises, and plyometrics will switch things up and allow you to work your legs to their full potential.

Remember: proper form, hard work, healthy eating and CONSISTENCY will lead you to results. Check out a few of my favorite leg exercises below.

Dumbbell Split Squat:

Stand with the rear foot elevated on a bench and the active front foot extended out in front, not allowing the front knee to go over the toes during the movement. Shoulders and hips stay stacked and squared, maintaining a long torso and tight core. Option to add weight as shown below. Perform three sets of 10-15 reps per leg.

 

Step Ups: 

First start by standing tall with feet together facing an elevated platform. Step up with the right leg using mainly the heel to lift up the entire body, then place the left foot on the platform as well. Come down using the left foot first followed by the right foot, returning to the starting position. Can be done with or without weights. If using dumbbells, hold them strong by the sides of the body. Perform three sets of 10-15 reps per leg.


Bosu Ball Squat with Side Leg Raise:

With one foot on the floor and the other on the center of the Bosu Ball, squat with even weight between the legs. On the way up, shift all weight to the standing leg and lift the leg off of the Bosu Ball into a side raise (keeping knee and toes pointing forward). Perform three sets of 10-15 reps.


Welcome, February!

Hard to believe we’re beginning the second month of 2016! January brought new goals, new beginnings and new challenges. Classes were full, private clients were re-focused and new clients were ready for a change. Overall, it was a great month and I felt tons of positive energy! For some, it was more of a "trial month". Maybe you fell off the wagon or maybe your diet wasn’t exactly as great as you hoped it would be. Good news: It’s the first of the month and it’s Monday! New week, new month, new goals… another chance to be great. Here are a few tips to help you stay on (or get back on) track:

1. Write it out

For me, making a list helps me to stay focused. Whether it’s a list of goals, groceries, to-do’s or a food log, it helps to keep me from getting overwhelmed during a busy week. Seeing things on paper helps to prioritize and it also keeps me accountable.

2. Get plenty of Z's

 I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but sleep is so important for your body and mind and often gets over-looked. If you know you’ve got a lot going on, be conscious of how many hours you're giving yourself to sleep at night. When it comes to working out, sleep is crucial for the body and repairing muscles. After a good night’s rest, you’re more prepared to take on the day (and your workout) with mental clarity. 

3. Cook extra!

Whether you’re into actual food prepping or not, cooking extra helps to keep your diet on track. Being prepared and having food that’s easily accessible is the key to eating healthy. One of my favorite kitchen staples is the Crock Pot. I like to put four to six chicken breasts in the Crock Pot so I have plenty of food for several meals. This morning before I left the house for my first appointment, I set my Crock Pot on low for five hours. Can’t go home for lunch? Set it up right before you go to bed and cook while you sleep. What I love most about cooking chicken this way is that it has the best left-over taste. Check out my go-to recipe below!

Crock Pot Mojo Chicken

 

What you need:

  • 4-6 chicken breasts  
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup mojo marinade
  • Peppers (optional)

What to do:

Combine chicken, broth, mojo, onions, garlic and peppers (I had left over bell peppers from the weekend so I threw them in, too!) and cook on low for five to six hours. 

 

 

 

Transformation Tuesday - Cathy

Out of all the benefits of my position, I’d say the number one perk is getting to meet some incredible people. Not only meet them, but truly get to know them, help them, and gain their trust. For me, training is so much more than giving someone a series of exercises because they want to look good on their vacation in two weeks. While looking good is a big part of it, it’s more of a mind-body connection. My goal is to help people get to know and love their own bodies long-term by way of movement and exercise. 

A perfect example of this would be the story of my client Cathy. She has been working out with me for over two years. Previously, she walked a couple times per week and occasionally threw on a workout video at home. Rarely breaking a sweat and hardly any cardio or weights. She was not eating a balanced diet and had no real routine. After a year and a half of minimal exercise, she agreed to accompany a friend and try a few classes. While the workouts seemed much different than what she did years ago with her personal trainers, she was willing to give it a shot. One class turned into taking my barre class three times per week and later incorporating one-on-one training (gym and in-home). Not long after reaching a consistent point in her workout routine, she started to feel better from the inside out. Increased energy levels, strength, stamina, confidence and overall happiness; naturally she became more committed to herself and making this huge lifestyle change. It was like a domino effect. Her mentality shifted, and working out was no longer a burden, instead the most essential appointment of the day. Cooking at home became normal and clean eating became enjoyable. Coworkers, friends and family were noticing the physical changes, and boy, was that exciting! Weight training resulted in arm and leg definition, fat loss, weight loss, and overall firmness. Suspension training, functional training and barre work helped to tone, improve balance, core strength, body alignment and posture. Her pant size went from a ten to a six, making her no stranger to the seamstress. Consistency in her diet and exercise routine over a two year period lead to serious results.

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The biggest gain? (Pun intended!) Cathy does it for no one other than herself, and that makes me the proudest. She shows up ready to work and constantly maintains a positive attitude, and watching her bloom and transform the past two years is what makes my role so amazing. Grateful that I’ve earned the trust to push her to her limits (despite my tough love and our seated-rest rule) and guide her through her journey to wellness. 

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My aim is to help people be the best possible version of themselves. After all, the best investment you’ll ever make is in you.

Follow me on Instagram for more fitspiration @livfigueroa

Make it a great week!

Liv