Fit, Fifty & W.T.F.

8 04 2015

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There’s that saying that goes when one door closes another one opens. Usually that door opens to bigger and brighter things. After 18 years of an ugly marriage followed by 6 years of an ugly divorce, complete with astronomical divorce lawyer bills I am finally able to come up for air. I am in my early fifties, fit and finally free of some very heavy baggage. But why am I still out of breath?

To me there is nothing more important in life than family, and certainly nothing more valuable than good health. As a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and workout devotee, I preach about health and fitness on a daily basis. I am passionate about it and, because I am that annoying fitness friend who works out all the time, posts fitness quotes on Facebook, likes to tell you what to and what not to eat and as you can see, also blogs about it. I don’t have a problem telling people they’re overweight, their diet sucks and that they are a heart attack waiting to happen. I take care of myself so you should too. Listen to me……I’m Ms. Know It All. My motto is: “take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you.” And my personal mission is to not end up with a bad heart like my dad and his dad.

Recently I said to a friend that I would love to see how healthy my heart is for a 51 year- old woman. I bet it’s like that of a 30 year old. I do a ton of cardio and eat well, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, I take fish oil supplements and I eat only dark chocolate. In fact, I think I am looking pretty pretty good for 51. I think 50 is the new 40. Did I mention that I have been feeling a little fatigued for the last few years. I’ve been told it’s from stress, my divorce and most recently menopause. I just had another physical. I know my body something isn’t right. I am told I should schedule a routine colonoscopy because I’m 51. Huh? I don’t think the problem is up my ass. Why isn’t anyone listening to me? I know my body and know something isn’t right. I think I need a new doctor. Yippee I found a new doctor and bonus she’s close to my house. Double bonus she had a cancellation. I have an appointment with my new doctor. Ah, I think my new doctor needs her hearing checked………
What? A heart murmur.  I now have a new doctor and a cardiologist, both whom do not have hearing problems. Although the lips are moving and I am being told that I was born with a genetic heart valve defect, I hear nothing but the words “Open Heart Surgery.” I am pretty pretty sure they both must have made a mistake because I have worked way too hard to avoid any problems with my heart, and look at me damn-it I look pretty pretty good for 51. Plus I just opened a new door in my life, I just came up for air. Let me catch my breath please.

The fall of 1980 I saw my father at the age of 43 lay in a hospital bed post-op from a triple bypass surgery after suffering his first of many future heart attacks, followed by subsequent heart surgeries and heart procedures. Wearing his scar like a badge of honor, he would parade shirtless around our house in Northeast Philly to the sheer horror of my teenage friends and I. To this day a phone call in the middle of the night always means hearing my mom say “Daddy’s in the hospital.” Now at the age of 82 my father Morty has had way too many heart procedures to list. But it’s this medical technology that keeps him alive and on the golf course in sunny Florida. That and someone, upstairs must like him a lot and knew that I would need him around so we can compare our badges of honor, our open heart surgery scars.

I’ll admit I have never even heard of a Bicuspid Valve, BAVD or let alone a Thoracic Aneurysm but when I’m asked if I know who John Ritter was I say yes and that I never thought he was funny. I couldn’t begin to comprehend what the cardiologist was saying. I have two daughters who need me. I can’t have open heart surgery…that would be insane. I’m too young. That’s for old people, people who are out of shape, people who eat bad, drink, and smoke. It’s not for me—the high and mighty personal trainer, amazing Spin instructor and fitness nut. Come on—I have to do the Broad Street Run. I need to teach my Spin class. I have people to train and preaching to do about the importance of doing cardiovascular exercise to strengthen the heart. And I have a list of personal “to do’s” like hiking the Grand Canyon, doing the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, and running the Disney Princess half marathon with my daughter, in of course Micky Mouse ears. In other words I have LIFE to do and don’t have time for this crap. More importantly I need to work, make money. I am a single mom. I don’t have workman’s comp or a job with benefits. How will this happen? And why did this happen? And another thought…OMG I’m going to have a gross scar down my chest like my father! Breath Hope. Just breath.

As I sat waiting for Penn Medicine’s top Aorta Specialist Dr. Joseph Bavaria to see me I was convinced that he would say we’ll monitor you and check you again in 12 months. But when he entered the room with this god like presence I knew immediately that “see you in a year” wasn’t coming out of his mouth. Instead he said “ John Ritter died from what you have.” “Yes I’ve heard” I said. And as I sat there wearing a shirt with a giant pink heart that I wore on purpose, listening to Dr. Bavaria and his Assistant Kristen tell me that my heart was way too big for my body size and all about artificial valves, cow valves, pig valves, two days in intensive care, and a week in the hospital I suddenly felt more like a confused child and not the strong confident mom of steel I am. Sadly, as I put my coat on over the cute pink heart shirt the heart surgeon never even noticed nor chuckled at, I gather my things and drove back into the suburbs in silence. Rush hour traffic on the Schuykill Expressway for once in my life didn’t seem to bother me. I thought about my kids and that I now had to call my dad and tell him the secret I have kept from him for two months. “Daddy, I have a heart condition and I am having open heart surgery in April.” And in true form my father said “BULLSHIT, that doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You were not born with a valve problem. It’s from too much god damn exercising”

Bicuspid aortic valve disease, or BAVD, is a congenital heart defect. Most people are born with a normal functioning tricuspid aortic valve. Some, like myself, are born with a bicuspid valve. A bicuspid aortic valve can be a serious heart valve disorder in which the valve only has two leaflets, or flaps, that control blood flow through the heart causing blood to regurgitate back into the heart rather than exit. It is a genetic mutation that occurs during pregnancy that causes the leaflets to fuse together. All of that causes the aorta to stretch and bulge and possibly cause an aneurysm. Oh yeah, I have one of those too that has to be repaired during my surgery. Some people are diagnosed at birth and therefore monitored as they age. Some like myself find out later in life that they were born with this valve disorder. To say I wasn’t prepared for the news that I had a life threatening heart condition would be an understatement. So I am beyond grateful and very fortunate that my new doctor, Dr. Hannah Chung heard the murmur and even more grateful that I didn’t cancel my appointment with Dr. Andrea Becker the cardiologist. Believe me I thought about cancelling.

On April 8th I will be sawed open through my sternum and have my bicuspid valve and aneurysm repaired or replaced. My surgeon, Dr. Joseph Bavaria will attempt to repair my valve rather. However if it cannot be repaired a replacement valve will be inserted.  At the old age of 51 I have no clogged arteries and one big strong heart so I am really hoping for a repair that hopefully would last for the rest of my life.  Tissue valves (cow or pig) only last roughly ten years when a person is active and therefore I could be facing open heart surgery again in ten years. I am praying for repair. I am not a candidate for a mechanical valve for other reasons. So, besides constantly thinking about my upcoming surgery and touching my left side of my chest all the time like Fred Sanford, I am cleaning my house like a nut, organizing my things and stocking up on diet ginger ale and soup. Plunging neckline shirts I once wore out whoring with my single girlfriends after my divorce have been dropped off at the good will box because something tells me that a 6” scar down my chest will not be so sexy. While I await my surgery I am restricted from doing anything that causes me to make a grunting sound like lifting heavy weights especially above my head. I am still training my clients, teaching spin and working out. I am training for the biggest race of my life – MY LIFE. I plan on walking into the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on the morning of April 8th being one Fit Fifty-One year old Female and walking out a week later ready for my road to recovery and the opportunity to begin each day with a grateful heart.

Occasionally we hear a sad story about a kid playing football and dropping dead on the field, a basketball player collapsing on the court, a child who has a heart attack at recess. We find out they had an unknown heart condition and that had it been detected their lives could have been spared. Today there are national campaigns designed to stress the importance of early detection of heart conditions in youth which can lead to Sudden Cardiac Death.

Simon’s Fund is just one of the many organizations dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes and children. Sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes and cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of adults in the U.S.  As such, we should be checking the hearts of our children. Simon’s Funds latest success is the passage of The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act (HB1610) in Harrisburg, PA. Hundreds of childrens lives have been saved thanks to the screenings that have taken place in schools all around the country. Go to Simonsfund.org for more information.

I am fortunate that as active as I am I did not drop dead from my unknown heart condition. My bicuspid valve wouldn’t have been detected therefore not allowing my children to be tested for this genetic disorder. While most adults discover their unknown BAVD in their thirties when they begin to get out of breath more easily, my body learned to compensate for my hearts inadequacy. I always thought my racing heart during the first mile of a run was due to the stress of hating to run. I will be curious to see how I feel when I recover. Will I breathe better? Will my heart rate be the same when I workout? Will I not sweat as much? I know I have a tough road ahead of me but I am going into this mentally tough. Because guess what? I know my body and I am sure I will do pretty pretty well. T minus zero it’s race time.  Deep breath Hope.

 

Please follow along my journey as I recover the days, weeks and months to come.

Check out my post op blog Fit, Fifty & WTF – Feeling Wonderful, Thankful & freakin’Relieved

at: https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/fit-fifty-feeling-wtf-wonderful-thankful-freakin-relieved/

Subscribe to my blog.

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Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Feeling thankful in Philly.

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Feeling thankful in Philly.

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or phone 610-608-6087

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YOU DON’T WORKOUT BECAUSE OF WHAT? by Hope Nagy

10 02 2014

“Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”  Booker T. Washngton

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Johnny Quinn IFBB

“I can’t exercise.” I hear it every day from people I know personally, not strangers.  Bad knee, bad back, bad hip, headaches, etc. And while I don’t discredit their discomfort, as I too have a bad knee, a bad back and my newest pain my hip, I do question their reasoning for not exercising.  I personally know people on disability for ailments that I question, “you really can’t work with that?” This is a subject that makes my blood boil and is something that I have a hard time with. I mean, if you could exercise and feel better, lessen the pain, and improve the quality of your life, why wouldn’t you?

While at the gym recently I noticed a guy with an amazing physique that was training with a fellow trainer Joe Quinn of ProQ Fitness  What I noticed first and then later say’s it all, and is the reason why I personally can’t accept some of the reasons why able bodied people tell me they can’t exercise.

Joe yelled over to me to see if I could I help him with a spot for this client. It wasn’t until I was walking over to them that I noticed that the guy with the huge biceps was in a wheel chair and was about to do a shoulder press with some heavy weight that needed a little assist. When the set was done Joe introduced me to his younger brother Johnny.  I walked away but throughout my workout I couldn’t help but watch Johnny because there seemed to be no obstacles in his way.  Although Johnny has some huge muscles I found 12 that were by far being used the most: Zygomaticus major and minor (4), Orbicularis oculi (2), Levator labii superioris (2), Levator anguli oris (2) and Risorius (2)… the 12 muscles that make up a smile.  A smile that said: I am one lucky guy to be able to exercise.

Meet Johnny Quinn, IFBB International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness.

In 1998, Johnny was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident that left him with a 10% chance to live. Two broken femurs, a broken arm, a broken jaw, massive head trauma and a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He was 21 when this happened.

At age 19 if I asked Johnny Quinn what is the meaning of success in one word, what would teen Johnny have answered me? 

Wealthy

Your body screamed “COMPETITION” when I first saw you at the gym.  Some people notice eyes, some breasts, I notice biceps. Are you use to people staring at your physique?

Thanks! At first I felt like everyone would look at me because I was in a wheelchair. Now, I’m up on stage showing off my body and the last thing people see is the chair.

After the accident how many months did you spend at Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia?

One month in ICU, three months at Magee Rehab. Three long months, but it gave me the foundation to rebuild my life.

Prior to your accident you worked out, but nothing like now.  After the accident and being confined to a wheel chair you told me you watched your stomach get bigger and bigger.  Some people would have never even dreamed of heading back into the gym but you decided to take back control of your body, and head back to the gym. 

Mentally I was determined to beat this thing from day one. I never lost control of that.  The first year out was the toughest, but I had a lot of support from my family and friends. I discovered that with God all things are possible, and took it one day at a time. Oh, I had some battles with fear, anxiety & depression but I never let it take control. However, physically, I had to heal before I could really do any weight training. I had to focus on just being able to perform the daily activities of life. About two years after I got home I felt strong enough and independent enough to join back at the gym and to start weight training. The rest is history.

First days back at the gym, what was it like?

Without the use of my legs or my core muscles that help stabilize myself, training was very challenging at first and frustrating. We just had to think outside the box and always think safety too. I have titanium rods in my spine and have to be careful not to break them. Once we did start learning what works and developing a routine, it felt like a victory in itself. It was basically trial and error to see what works best. I am still discovering different ways to train the muscle in a different way to shock it and stimulate more growth.

You were shown a Flex magazine article which featured Men’s Wheelchair Body Building. That picture spoke something to you?

As soon as I saw that article and pics of those wheelchair bodybuilders I knew that’s what I wanted to do. If I had to be in a wheelchair, I wanted to look like that!

How long after your injury did you enter your first body building competition? 

My first competition was in 2001, three years after my injury. I was the only guy in a wheelchair, but once I got out on stage and heard the response from the audience after I rocked the house with my posing routine, I was hooked.  The support from all the other bodybuilders was awesome too! As nervous as I was they made me feel relaxed and confident in myself. It was a life changing event. It’s now 12 years later and I have since become an IFBB Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilder.

Are you always training? 

Bodybuilding is a way of life, a lifestyle. You are always training to make improvements for the next show, consistency is the key. It takes persistence, dedication, and devotion. Not everyone can do it. I’ll take a week or two off after a competition, but I get back on a schedule depending on my next show. However, taking some time off is always needed if you want to survive in this business.

Finish this sentence….. When this show is done I am eating ……..

Pizza, cheesburger and fries!

Yummy but I think I hear the Mcgurgles!  What’s playing in your ear buds when training?

Heavy Metal

What playing on the stage when you’re posing?

At first heavy metal, but then I wanted to do a song that meant something and allowed me to share my faith, so I toned it down and tried some christian praise songs. That was definitely moving, but I needed more power. I found this christian metal band “Disciple” who have the power and message together, so that is my music these days.

Here you are more than  decade later I’d say you proved the doctors wrong and then some, and some more!

I guarantee I would never have done many of the things in my life that I’ve done sif not for my accident. Most of all being a professional bodybuilder.

In the past 12 years tell me what shows you have competed in?

 In 2002 I competed in my first NPC National Wheelchair Bodybuilding show in Florida, where I placed 4th in my weight division. I continued to compete each year getting bigger and better each year. Along with the NPC Wheelchair Nationals in Palm Beach, Florida every year I also competed at the NPC Junior Nationals in New Orleans, now called the NPC USA Wheelchair Championships. Two shows a year is enough, and they are really the only wheelchair shows out there. In 2010 I achieved my goal I set from day 1, and that was to win the Overall title at the NPC Wheelchair Nationals. Winning the overall title earned me my official IFBB Pro Card. That was a great feeling of accomplishment. My greatest actually.

Tell me about your training program.

I train 4 days a week. One body part at a time, except for arms. That way I can focus 100% to one muscle and just kill it. Get in and get out. So many people spend way to much time in the gym. I’ll add cardio in getting ready for a show.

Diet? Share please! We want to know. 

Diet is the key to successful bodybuilding. You have to eat to grow. My diet consists of 6 meals a day. My protein sources consist of grilled chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, fish, and whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements. Carbs are mostly oatmeal, sweet or white potatoes, rice (white or brown) and cream of rice. Green veggies also like broccoli, asparagus, and green beans. I never used to calculate my calories. I just judged by how I look, but since I turned pro I want to take it to the next level, which is why I started working with Vic Tringali at teamvic.com With his knowledge and experience I look to make some major improvements in size & conditioning. After only 10 weeks of contest prep with him last year I made tremendous improvements from the previous year to take 3rd place at the 2013 IFBB Houston Pro Show. My calorie intake for the show was around 1800-1900 per day. This off season it’s probably around 4000. With a good off season program & contest prep with Vic this year I look forward to making some serious gains. Just wait and see what the finished product looks like come October. Stay tuned!

4000 calories off season do you know what us gals would do to be able to eat 4000 calories? Any Supplements?

Lots of whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements.  Amino acids, creatine, glutamine. Whole food is the most important thing though.

One moment can change your life but what  do you think makes the difference between the person who can accept the change and the challenges it brings and the person who throws in the towel?

It comes from within. It comes from the heart and when you invite Jesus into your heart, then there’s nothing too hard for you to overcome.  Because with God all things are possible. Sometimes it takes something tragic to happen for you to realize that, but it doesn’t have to.

You have a smile that lights up a room. You’re big and strong looking but you don’t look angry and mean.  Or am I wrong? Do you have good days and bad days? 

I always have good & bad days. I’m human. I get angry at myself than anything, but I try to always keep a positive mind. Yeah I try to play the tough guy part, but I am a big softy. I’m Italian. However, I will release the wrath of God if necessary. Lol!

Do you sometimes listen to people bitch about their problems and think, OMG you have have no idea what a real problem is! Or how about people who take beter care of their cars then their health?  Choose not to exercise.  I often say to people, do you know how many others would trade places with you to have your heart, your lungs, your legs?

I agree, but like I said, that’s why I like to get out and share my story and mostly just let people see the way I live my life. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. No pun intended.. Bodybuilding puts me in the spotlight and I like to use that as an avenue to encourage & inspire people.

Your brother Joe owner of  ProQfitness.com Personal Training is one of your biggest fans.  Joe had this to say about you. 

          Joe Quinn“I am his biggest fan! I am a proud big brother of all his life accomplishments, which to me seem unprecedented. His ability to thrive in moments of extreme misfortune and tremendous adversity is attractive, heroic and nothing short of amazing. He utilizes his ambitions when a specific opportunity presents itself.  Johnny is a celebrity in my eyes.”

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Joe has been a tremendous help. Believe it or not Joe and I just started training together over the past two years. He has been   there as my training partner and pretty much my right hand man. He comes to my shows and helps me get ready.  Its nice to be able to spend time with my brother like this. Its a team effort! I can always count on him.

 Joe spoke about  training someone in a wheelchair.

          Joe Quinn “Learning how to train someone in a wheelchair was a whole new ball game. Most of my learning and expertise came from Johnny himself and I was able to obtain some valuable techniques from other fitness experts in the field. Once becoming familiar with the training process,  the biggest obstacle as a trainer in this setting is Patience. There is a lot of transferring of Johnny in and out of the wheelchair from one machine/exercise to the next in a very specific and safe fashion. I have to stay alert and  very attentive.” 

I know God and your faith is a huge part of your life.  Who else are thankful for?

I am thankful for so many people in my life who have made an impact one way or another.  But the one I can single out is my mom, who has put my life before hers since I was born, and has been like a rock through everything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I owe my life to her. She is a blessing from God.

Is there anything you can live without?

It’s amazing what you can adapt to in the face of adversity and after all I’ve been through there’s nothing I can’t live without.

Today at age 37 I am asking you what is your definition of “success”?

Fulfilling Gods will for my life, meeting Him in heaven to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servent.”

Do we stop when we are done or are we never finished?  Do we ever reach all of our goals?

I think that if we don’t continue to set goals our lives will become stagnant.

I love the quote form Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”  

Thats what makes the man!

BAM! (just had to say that. lol) Thanks Johnny 

Johnny will be competing next in October in Houston Texas.  Besides bodybuilding Johnny works full time for an Insurance Company and also does motivaional speaking engagements. You can learn more about Johnny at Johnnyquinn.com or contact him at quinnyjt21@aol.com

Personal Training by Joe Quinn  ProQfitness.com

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Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

for information contact Hope at 610-608-6087

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My VO2 Max and Threshold Test Experience

23 01 2014

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Whether you’re a competitive cyclist, runner, or a recreational rider like myself, you might be curious about how physically fit you really are. When I saw a  $25, “Intern Special” at Cadence Cycling and Multisport  in Manyunk for a VO2 and Threshold test, I jumped right on that deal since I have been wanting to do this for several years.   The test can usually cost anywhere from $100- $300.

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So what exactly is a V02 Max test?  Brady Gibney, who holds a national title in Duathalon, and is also a training coach and General Manager at  Cadence Cycling and Multisport, will explain:

“Vo2 max is a measure of an endurance athletes potential. Threshold (anaerobic, lactate or functional) is roughly a measure of your current fitness. We combine these numbers to define your efficiency; how hard you are working at a given intensity. You train, eat, and sleep your sport, and after a race inevitably ask, “could I have gone faster?” A test can help us create training zones to help you increase your fitness. Ultimately, we all want to get faster, and training at or near threshold is the best way to do this. The machine we use has a metabolic chart, which means not only do you get training zones after the test, but we can also tell how many calories you’re burning in any zone. This is immensely useful for marathon and long distance triathletes. We find most first time endurance racers aren’t taking in nearly enough calories for 4+ hour races. Many racers test 2 weeks before a big event at peak fitness and one of our professional coaches will help to create a race-day food plan, ensuring enough calories are being consumed for optimal performance. All of this is possible because of a test that lasts no longer than 15 minutes.”

John Abbott and Jay McDevitt, both interns from West Chester University, conducted my test. I know, you’re saying “cool internship!”  Precisely mounted  on the special bike, I was then fitted  with a mouth piece connected to a tube that would monitor my breathing and my nose was clamped. Being a mouth breather I thought this would be no problem, but I have to admit it feels a little claustrophobic, and reminded me of breathing while scuba diving  The test consisted of riding a stationary bike while John and Jay monitored my heart rate and stats, and increased the intensity about every 2 to 3 minutes, taking me into more difficult stages. The stages started out fairly easy, but before I knew it I was sucking air. Literally, my need for more air had my mouth open so wide it I went wider than the mouth piece.  John and Jay knew at that moment I was done even though I gave a hand wave.  “Cool!  How high did my heart rate go?” I exclaimed when I finally caught my breath.

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Brady reviewed my test results with me, and I learned many things. The first ,which is both humbling and kind of aggravating to me, is I think I am in fairly good shape for a 50-year-old female and I now know I could be in better shape. By that I mean if I trained smarter I could increase my VO2 Max “Relative” results. Without getting into too much detail it’s a formula taking into consideration body weight, which differs from VO2 Max “Absolute”, which doesn’t figure your body weight into the equation.  Think of it as me at 137 lbs, having the same Vo2 “Absolute” results as a 200lb male. But our relative result is the more important number since we do not weigh the same.   Also, based on my numbers I know I spin too much, and don’t ride my bike enough! My body is used to me teaching Spin class  and therefore it’s not challenging enough for me.  I take my heart rate up, but I need more long endurance runs, or rides in the lactate threshold heart rate zone that I now know is for me, between 167 to 173 bpm.  My Vo2 number to increase is 48.08.

Bottom line: a higher max = a higher ability to intensely exercise. With my test results and new training program I got from Cadence I will definitely be back to re-test and see if I managed to increase my VO2 max. Testing should be done several times within a certain amount of months or a training season.

I want to thank the terrific guys at Cadence Multisport for making me feel like a serious athlete, which I am not!  Brady, John and Jay really treated my test no differently than if I was a  professional cyclist.  As a woman who has done some competitive mountain bike racing in the past, I know where women sometimes stand in the world of cycling, so I really want to commend them on this.  Did I ask a lot of questions? I think they couldn’t wait to put the mouth piece in me and clamp my nose off!

I highly recommend this test whether you are an elite athlete or just someone like myself wanting to train more efficiently.  If you live in or around the Philadelphia area give Brady and the guys at Cadence a call to set up a test at: 215-508-4300.

Check out their “Efficiency Test” SPECIAL that is going on right now

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Whether you’re a complete beginner looking for a Philadelphia bike store, have questions about a cost-effective, entry-level bike or an athlete looking for world-class coaching to take you to the next level, Cadence can help! And at Cadence, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or a beginner, their professional sales, coaching, and mechanical staff treat everyone the same way: with the utmost care, concern, and respect. 

You can find Cadence Cycling and Mutlisport at: http://www.cadencecycling.com

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Voted Top Trainer 2011, 2012 & 2013 on Philly’s Hot List
MotivateHopeStrength.com  610-608-6087                                  e-mail hope@motivatehopestrength.com

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Biking in Whistler Canada a Mountain Bikers Oasis by Hope Nagy

12 10 2013

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I just got back from a  trip to Whistler, in Canada.   Home to the  2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ,Whistler is about a two and a half hour car ride from Vancouver along the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to  Sky Highway. Whistler in  the winter months is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders.  In the spring, summer, and a little bit into the fall it is a mountain bikers paradise.  From cross country to downhill, Whistler offers it all. The views are amazing, also shared by road cyclists and hikers.

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SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY 

If you’re planning a trip to Whistler for mountain biking, I will tell you that September is the least expensive time of the year to go because it’s the end of bike season.   I would recommend going spring or summer if you can afford it.  Even though the prices for a hotel room are exceptionally low in September the risk of rain is high, as I found out first hand. Also the local bike shops sell off their rentals at the end of the season to make room for next years new models, so I did have a hard time finding decent bikes even though there are a lot of shops in Whistler Village and the surrounding areas. After several calls in the weeks prior to my vacation I was able to rent myself a 2014 Santa Cruz Juliana and my boyfriend a Santa Cruz 29’er Tallboy from Evolution.    Evolution Whistler: Snowboard, Skate, Bike, Fashion store is located right in Whistler Village, were very accommodating, and the bikes we rented were pristine.  Suddenly my vintage 2001 Cannondale Scalpel might need to be replaced by a new Santa Cruz!  I normally ride a men’s frame, but I enjoyed the ride and feel of this women’s bike. My boyfriend Kevin, who usually rides a 26″ tire, loved his 29’er Tallboy and confirmed for him that he wants to make the switch to a larger tire.

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Whistler is home to Whistler Bike Park, http://bike.whistlerblackcomb.com. The park is for riders of all levels. They have tight single track with drop offs, steep rock faces, roots, twists and turns, and ramps. After watching the awesome videos on their site  this non-armour clad gal decided to go the route of the hills and cross-country trails outside the bike park .  Body armour and motocross style downhill helmets are a must. The sight of dozens of downhillers walking their bikes through Whistler Village is pretty cool, and watching the downhillers race down the mountain is even cooler. I wish I had the balls to ride downhill!

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I was lucky after a shout out on my Facebook page MotivateHopeStrength, to have the company Whistler Bike Guide recommended to me.  Some guides take their vacations at the end of the season, but I totally lucked out. Not only did I find a great guide, but I got the man who published the first Whistler bike guide, and one of the designers of the Whistler Trail System at Lost Lake Park!  Grant Lamont  guided us up some awesome climbs, and quick twisting descending single tracks. No map for us needed.  Grant lead and we followed.  The trail system is 126 miles of single track in the forest, and the trails are marked like a ski slope. Green circles, blue squares and black diamonds.  Every trail system has a name and we rode most of the Zappa system, with names like Disco Boy, we also caught a ride on Comfortably Numb and the ever popular River Runs Through it.   Grant gave us a three hour plus tour that gave me the hill climbs I wanted, and the downhills that my boyfriend loves.  His expertise was appreciated, and made the ride more enjoyable since we didn’t have to think about getting lost, and instead got to enjoy the ride. He also gave us an in-depth history of the trail system along with some other entertaining stories.

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 Grant Lamont –Whistler Bike Guide

Whistler Village was quaint.  Great shops, lodging, restaurants, and an over abundance of coffee shops.   Like most resort towns, Whistler is pricey.  The Four Seasons Whistler was beautiful and at the off-season rate it was very affordable.  When I search for a hotel it must have a gym/fitness room.   Location and a quality gym are my top priorities. I really wish more hotels would understand that a lot of us gym rats actually do base our choice of lodging based on it’s fitness room.    I give the Four Seasons Whistler a 10 out of 10 for the beautiful room, impeccable service and amenities, but only an 8.5 out of 10 for the fitness center.  The cardio equipment was in abundance and was like new.  At least 10 treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and even 14 sparkling new Schwinn Spin bikes. There were a few machines all that I didn’t particularly care for and one that was broken.   I never saw one person use these machines, most likely because they were awkward and were not user friendly. The small weight area had just one bench, which sat snugly in a very small area making it impossible for more than one person to lift. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that there was a bench press with a bar and plates, and a nicely sized aerobic room where they hold classes in the busier season.  For a hotel of this size and grandeur the weight area could be a little bigger so that at least two people could use it at the same time. I did love that the gym was located right next to the spa and I throughly enjoyed going right from the gym to the outside hot tubes, steam rooms and showers. Note to the Four Seasons, you can hire me to design and equip your fitness rooms!

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

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Heading back to Vancouver we stopped at the Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.  Spectacular and breathtaking bridges, cat walks contained in a rain forest. The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Now… where should I go next?

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Hope Nagy Personal Trainer

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MotivateHopeStrength.com

Email Hope at:    Hope@motivatehopestrength.com

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