Home Gym Transformation

Do you have an unfinished basement or a spare bedroom that’s doing nothing but holding all your stuff? We did. After moving about a year ago, our basement became the repository of things we couldn’t find a place or a use for. It was also home to our sparse collection of workout gear: a pair of adjustable dumbbells, a Swiss ball, a few resistance bands, some exercise mats and a bench and barbell set we picked up on Craigslist. We definitely had enough equipment to get a decent workout, but we were less than motivated to trudge downstairs and workout amid the clutter.

Serious clutter in our basement!
A disjointed hodge-lodge of workout gear.
The old gym just wasn’t very inviting.

Then, one day, when I was downstairs working out, I had a vision.

A long time ago, I had taken a spin class at a gym downtown and at the end of the class, the instructor reminded everyone that there was a “cycle theater” night coming up – gym members could come and watch a movie on the big screen in the spin room while they pedaled the pounds away. Recalling that moment, I reimagined our basement as our own home exercise theater, and the transformation began.

A new use for an old TV; new cardio equipment.
Inexpensive gym flooring; quality weight equipment.
Our dream gym, free of clutter and ready for workouts!

Because we opted for brand new equipment, the transformation wasn’t cheap. But we did save money in a few key areas. We bought inexpensive, lock-together flooring at a local home improvement store, and used the old flooring and carpet remnants for the rest of the area. We got an Amazon Fire Stick for our old TV so that we could connect to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube and watch movies, shows and even free spin classes online while we workout. We hooked up an old speaker to an Echo Dot to provide great sound for our workout playlists.

As for the equipment, we kept a lot of the stuff we already had and only got rid of the Craigslist weight bench. For the new equipment, we sought out good-quality, mid-priced brands. The biggest improvement, though, was just getting organized and cleaning up all the clutter. That part was free, costing us only a few hours of our time.

In all, our transformation cost about the equivalent of two year’s-worth of gym memberships, which isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it for us.

Marathoners: How to Finish Strong

With the Twin Cities Marathon just a month away, thousands of runners are asking themselves one thing: “Will I be ready for 26.2 miles on race day?” There are a lot of factors that go into determining the answer to that question, but here are a few tips to help increase your chances of finishing strong, whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned marathon veteran.

Get to the Starting Line Healthy

Maybe you haven’t exactly stuck to your training plan. You haven’t hit your weekly mileage targets, your long run targets, or both. Maybe you’ve been battling a nagging little injury or two. If that’s the case then the best advice I can give you is to take it easy! Cramming more mileage into this last month isn’t going to do much at all for you fitness-wise, and if you make an injury worse or fail to finish a planned long run, it will decimate your confidence, too. The best way to finish a marathon strong is to start it strong. So keep running, but listen to your body now more than ever, and honor your rest days!

Stop Eating (and Drinking) Junk

When you’re putting in lots of hours training for a marathon you get hungry. Really hungry. In my case, it’s like 17 year-old football player hungry. This can lead to lots of rationalization for making poor food choices. Let’s face it, rarely are we presented with the opportunity to eat virtually whatever we want and not gain weight, but running 30 or 40 or 50 miles a week presents you with just such an opportunity. But if you are to be successful on race day, you must resist the urge to fill that calorie void with junk food. Pizza, burgers, beer, dessert, cheese on top of everything, fried whatever – it might all taste like heaven, but it’s hell on your body. Now is exactly when your body needs nutrition that will help it recover from your workouts and make the physiological adaptations necessary to get you through the upcoming 26.2 miles of pavement pounding. And that can’t happen on junk. You know what’s healthy and what isn’t, right? So eat lots and lots of that instead.

Avoid the Three Ts

Tightness, tension and being tired can cause major problems for runners, especially as race day draws nearer. If you think of your body as a machine, introducing any one of these negative elements can be like throwing sand into the works. At first you may not notice, but over time, the constant abrasive grinding wears down the critical small gears, eventually leading to a total system breakdown. Luckily, combating them is easy. All you need is 15 minutes a day and some discipline.

Dedicate 10 of those minutes to using a foam roller, massage stick, lacrosse ball or other implement to work out any areas of tightness you have. Spend about 20 – 30 seconds on each area, and work just up to the point of discomfort, never pain. The key to this is to do it consistently, every day. Using a foam roller to loosen up tight muscles and connective tissue before a run is a great idea, but know that it will be helpful whenever you can squeeze it in.

Spend the other 5 minutes practicing meditation, deep breathing, or some other stress-busting technique. If there is a time of day when you notice yourself feeling particularly tense or tired, try taking a break to consciously relax then. The more consistent you can make this habit, the better. Simply noticing when you are tense and taking a few deep breaths throughout the day will help, too, but it’s not a substitute for that small but dedicated chunk of time to disconnect from the demands of your day.

Most of us can improve the quality of our sleep without even addressing the amount of time we spend in bed each night. A few tips for getting more of the restorative deep sleep your body needs include: turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime; close curtains/blinds/shutters to make your bedroom as dark as possible; and turn down the thermostat (ideal sleeping temperature is around 60-65 degrees for men and 65-70 degrees for women).

If there’s a common thread running through all of these tips it’s to be kind to yourself. Listen to your body, give it what it needs, and protect it from what it doesn’t. And that includes the most important part of your body – your mind.

Spartan Vs. Tough Mudder, a Coach’s Perspective

This summer I had the opportunity to run both the MN Spartan Sprint and the Twin Cities Tough Mudder Full. I’ve been a certified Spartan SGX Coach since 2016 and I’ve run 3 Spartan Sprints and one Tough Mudder Full since that time. Here is my totally subjective comparison of the two races.

Course Length and Toughness

It would seem there should be no comparison here, because a Spartan Sprint is always only between 3 and 5 miles, and the Tough Mudder Full falls somewhere between 10 and 12 miles. This year’s Spartan was around 3.5, and the TM Full I ran was a hair over 10. However, my total course time for the two races was not that different – I finished the Spartan only about 20 minutes faster than the Tough Mudder.

How is this possible?


While the Tough Mudder course was situated on what I would call rolling terrain (at the Wild Wings of Oneka hunting preserve in Hugo, MN), the Spartan was, once again, held on the ski slopes at Welch Village. I know the hills in Minnesota can’t be called mountains, but it sure felt like it on race day. This is typical of all Spartan races (except Stadium Sprints) – the terrain is intended to be it’s own obstacle. I don’t know if other Tough Mudder races are typically held on steeper or more rugged terrain, but in the Minnesota comparison, the Spartan race course was definitely tougher, even though it was shorter. (Note to readers: My time at the Spartan race was a bit slower than it might have been because I was running with a team and we ended up walking up ALL of the hills. However, last year when I ran it by myself for time, I also did a LOT of walking up those hills.)

You Call Those Obstacles?

When I ran my first Tough Mudder, I realized that it’s a very different event than a Spartan race. I’m sure this is by design, since people don’t want to simply run the same race at different venues with different logos on the finisher’s shirts at the end. Here was my impression of the obstacles, as expressed to my brother (who ran both races with me this summer) in breathless gasps around mile 7 or 8 of the TM: “At the Spartan race, it felt like the running parts were a rest between obstacles, and here the obstacles feel like a rest between the runs.” Of course there are a couple of logical reasons for this. First, there was a lot more running at the Tough Mudder because it was a longer race, and second, there was actual running at the Tough Mudder because running was possible for me on that terrain. But those aren’t the only reasons. Read on to learn more.

A Race Vs. A Challenge

The Spartan Race is a race – look, it says so right in the name! The Tough Mudder, however, is a challenge. Unless you opt in to a special (and relatively new) competitive pool, you don’t even get a timing chip and official finish time, and that’s by design. Whereas the Spartan racecourse is filled with competitors (many of whom will be glad to give you a quick hand up and over a wall or even do a few burpees for you), the Tough Mudder course is filled with comrades, who are charged to help their fellow Mudders complete the course successfully. Indeed, before each starting wave, an incredibly buff guy with a microphone makes you raise your right hand and swear that you will do so. So the obstacles at a Tough Mudder are designed for you to need help. I’d love to see a TM competitive heat sometime, because I have no idea how one person could possibly get over the Block Ness Monster or up the Pyramid Scheme alone. (Perhaps even the competitive heats require one to run as part of a team?) By contrast, the Spartan obstacles are intended to be overcome on your own, yet they are made to be incredibly hard (probably because the race’s creator, Joe DeSena, is crazy and he wants you to think about quitting a hundred times during the race, but at some point you realize the only way out is through the finish line). Here’s a good anecdote to give you a sense of the two races: At several points during the Tough Mudder, I found myself thinking, “Wow, this is actually really fun!” By comparison, during my first Spartan race, at several points along the course I found myself thinking, “I think I’m actually going to finish this!” For me, the feeling of joy in each case was pretty much the same.

Burpees Vs. Electrocution

I think we all know the real difference between these two events, though, don’t we? It really just comes down to a question of what kind of masochist you are. Would you rather do 30 burpees for each obstacle you miss (and you will miss some, even the elites do), or would you rather get shocked with 10,000 volts of electricity, probably more than once? After running both races, I think I’d take the shocks over the burpees (and the most obstacles I’ve ever failed in a Spartan race is only 4). But that just tells you how much I hate burpees.

So, in Spartan and Tough Mudder we have two OCRs that are very different from one another, but that leave you with a similar feeling of accomplishment at the end. I had a great time running both races, and I’ll definitely run them both again next year.

Body Work by Full Steam Fitness

Introducing my latest large group class: Body Work!

This strength-focused class will teach you how to use your own body weight to build functional strength and achieve great muscle tone. We’ll spend each class focusing on a different functional exercise using the ground, a few basic pieces of exercise equipment, and/or every day objects to leverage your own body weight and create the perfect amount of resistance that’s right for you.

If you’ve been curious about how to get the most out of your stability ball, if you struggle to do push-ups or deep squats with perfect form, or if you’ve ever wondered what the heck a TRX is for, then come and check out Body Work by Full Steam Fitness!

Days/Times: Monday mornings 5:30 – 6:30 AM and Wednesday evenings 6:30 – 7:30 PM throughout the month of June.
Cost: Walk-in/Single Class Rate = $15
Monthly Package: $60 for all 8 Body Work classes. Monthly subscribers can bring drop-in guests for just $10 each.
Body Work classes are also eligible as part of the Monthly Unlimited package.
Where: The FIT Lab, 1583 N Hamline Ave, Falcon Heights, MN

Register now – just click “Book Online” in the righthand sidebar!

Consistency, Planning Key for Weight Loss

Last week I checked in with Sarah, a virtual weight loss client who set a goal to lose 100 pounds in 2017, and she had great news to report: 9 pounds lost for the month of April (bringing her total weight loss since the New Year to 28 pounds) and her pants are getting loose! After a couple of slow but steady months, I asked Sarah what she did in April that led to such great success. Here’s what she had to say.

Q: What did you do differently this month to put up such a big number?

A: Two things. First, I subscribed the a meal plan program (Well Vegan) and followed the plan. Previously, I had been trying a different plan, but I found it was a lot of prep work. This plan fits in better with my schedule and abilities in the kitchen, and it isn’t overwhelming to follow! I also took advantage of the bridge/walkway closure at work! (Though I do feel a little silly taking “credit” for this change.) Our walkway from parking to office is closed for repairs meaning a .7 mile walk is now 1.5. It’s an easy built in 3 miles extra each day and a pretty walk along the river! I try not to take the shuttle unless it is raining and have been looking forward to the walks to and from the office.

Q: How will you carry your success from last month forward? Does this feel like something that’s sustainable over the long-term?

A: I’m going to continue with the plan, the walks, and the general increase in outdoor activity now that it is nicer outside! Yes, it’s absolutely sustainable. These habits are beginning to feel like my new “normal.”

Q: What’s the best advice you can give someone reading this who wants to achieve their own weight loss goals?

A: Find what works for you and make it your own! I have had greatest success when I stopped worrying about doing everything perfectly right away and allowed myself to use what worked best for me. Also, it helps to have friends and Rashelle to encourage you along the way!

Maybe without even knowing it, Sarah is implementing a lot of the principles from the Reboot Your Body step-by-step program.

  • She selected a tried a nutrition plan, and after finding that it wasn’t working for her, she used what she learned to seek out a plan more in tune with her available time and skills in the kitchen.
  • She also took what could have been a huge obstacle – the closure of the bridge she used to walk over to get to work – and turned it into a major opportunity. Rather than shrugging her shoulders and taking the shuttle to and from work each day, she now walks more than twice as far, burning – yes, that’s right – twice as many calories during her commute!
  • Sarah is also using her network of friends, family and her coach to stay motivated and accountable. This can be especially valuable when life gets busy and other priorities try to crowd out your healthy habits. To find out more about virtual weight loss coaching, check out the details of my plans here, or send me a message from the Contact page.

Reboot Your Body

Think you’ve tried everything and you just can’t lose weight? Think again.

Reboot Your Body is unlike any weight loss book you’ve read before, but don’t take our word for it – read the Publisher’s Weekly review here!

This is not a diet book or a cookbook, and it doesn’t prescribe a specific exercise program. It’s not aimed at an audience looking to drop 30 pounds in 30 days. This is a book for those who want to finally lose the weight for good.

From Lisa in Saint Paul, MN: “Rashelle’s book, “Reboot Your Body,” was the roadmap to changing my mind and body. The exercises provide the optimal balance between the past and future. First I discovered the limiting beliefs and patterns that were holding me back — and then we focused on the go-forward plan. Moving through the book was revealing, hard, uplifting and so necessary. To move forward, I had to see what was holding me back.”

Follow the step-by-step program outlined in the book by completing a series of assignments that build upon one another to create lasting behavior change. In the process, learn how those behavior changes cause physiological changes within your body, at the cellular level.

Reboot Your Body examines the physiological, emotional and cultural factors that cause weight gain, and tells you exactly what you need to do to overcome those obstacles and achieve permanent weight loss.

Order your copy today to find out how you can rewrite your biological history and take back control over your body.

Choose your retailer by clicking one of the links below:




A Race Week Checklist for New Runners

For new runners, that last week leading up to your first race can give you the jitters. You’re excited, but you also don’t know exactly what to expect. Aside from wondering if you’ve trained well enough for the race, you worry about the logistics of getting to the starting line on time, with everything you need. You wonder what you should eat in the days and hours leading up to the race. In short, you’ve got a lot of unanswered questions.

While there’s no shortage of articles offering practical tips for new runners, I wanted to go a step further and give new runners (or those returning after a long hiatus) a practical, day-by-day checklist to follow the week leading up to your first race.

You can read my article at Active.com, and if you enjoy it or find it useful, please don’t forget to share it!

New Package Deals for Spring and Summer

I’m pleased to announce several package deals to save you money on my fitness training and coaching services!

Beginning April 1st, you can take advantage of Large Group Class and One-on-One Personal Training bundles that can save you 15 – 50% or more off my drop-in and single session rates.

Large Group Class Packages

The Monthly Class Package applies to all of my regularly scheduled classes at The FIT Lab for any one class and costs just $60 per month.

I’m also offering a brand new Monthly Unlimited Package for $100 per month. For that price, you’re free to attend ANY of my Bootcamp or Spartan classes all month long! That’s 15 – 20 classes for just $100. Do the math and I think you’ll agree that this is the best deal in town!

Learn more about Bootcamp and Spartan classes, or register for your monthly package here.

Personal Training Packages

If you’re interested in one-on-one personal training, now is the time to take advantage of my lowest rates in years! Save big money and see faster results by training multiple times per week, or enjoy $10 off per session when you buy a multi-session package.

Single Session: $75
Two Sessions Per Week: $130 ($65 each session)
Three Sessions Per Week: $150 ($50 each session)
Package of 10 Sessions – Use Any Time: $650 ($65 each session)

Learn more about my personal training services or purchase a training package bundle here.

If you’re interested in putting together a Small Group or Buddy training package, let me know and we can work out the details for those as well.


Do Something Big This Year

This summer, for the first time ever, I’ll be leading a team through the Minnesota Sprint Spartan Race – a 5 mile endeavor that will have us tackling more than 20 obstacles scattered up and down the slopes at the Welch Village ski complex. To prepare for the race, I’m leading Spartan workouts twice a week at The FIT Lab, located at 1583 N Hamline Avenue, Falcon Heights. The classes will focus on the skills and strategies needed to successfully negotiate the obstacles, as well as the endurance to go the distance on race day.

The list of FIT Lab Spartans who will be running the race on June 24th is growing! So far we have 8 people registered for the official FIT Lab heat in the afternoon, plus another 9 who are running as individuals in the morning, many of whom will be joining in on my Spartan SGX classes.

A Spartan race is a challenging, fun, team-building adventure that pushes you beyond what you thought you were capable of, and training for the race can get you in the best shape of your life.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to do something big and unique with your fitness goals this year: Join our team – it will be the experience of a lifetime!

Learn more and register for classes here.

If you want to join the FIT Lab Spartans on race day, send me a message here.


Progress Update: Sarah’s 100 Pound Weight Loss Challenge

I checked in with Sarah at the end of January and she had some great news to report: 7 pounds lost in the first month of her weight loss challenge!

While she was happy with the progress she’d made, she said determinedly, “I want more!”

I asked Sarah what three things she had learned over the past month, and here were her replies:

  1. Having a successful day means making the right choices over and over, sometimes every hour or even more often.
  2. It helps to be accountable to someone you are not related to or know otherwise (a coach).
  3. I’m learning to really utilize the resources that are available, and to not be afraid to make mistakes or try new things.

The actions Sarah took in January that helped her drop those 7 pounds included pre-planning her meals and her activity for the entire week every Saturday or Sunday (which she sent to me in the form of a spreadsheet), and exploring different fitness centers in her area. I recommended that she shop around by taking advantage of each gym’s free trial membership in order to find one that she felt comfortable in and that had the equipment and services she wanted. It also gave her the opportunity to get in some great workouts!

Sarah will check back in at the end of February and let us know how she did, what she learned, and what tips she can share with you.

What are you doing to lose weight or get healthy this month?