Push-Ups Test Should Get Us Talking about Heart Health

How many push-ups can you do?

The question makes some people uncomfortable, bringing up memories of awkward PE classes back in school. But the answer could be helpful to getting or keeping you on track for a better future.

Fitness pros have been discussing a new study that suggests push-ups can predict heart health. If you cannot do more than 10, you might need to make some changes.

It was conducted by Harvard and other institutions, and then published by the American Medical Association, so it is legitimate. But it raised some questions, too, since it was conducted only on white men. And no result of one simple assessment gives anyone a “free pass” to give up healthy habits.

Still, this is a helpful way to get us thinking and talking about cardiovascular disease, which remains the No. 1 killer worldwide. Contributing factors include diet, smoking, drink – and a lack of exercise. But predicting an individual’s likelihood to develop heart disease has been problematic. This research seems to say that a simple test can act as a no-cost and generally effective crystal ball.

Scientists studied the health of hundreds of men over several years. They didn’t set out to examine push-ups. But the data revealed that men who could complete 11 or more went on to have lower risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems later in life.

Men who could do 40 push-ups were 96 percent less likely to develop problems than those who could not manage more than 10.

We Asked Some Fit Friends

We talked to some fitness friends about their thoughts and asked how many push-ups they can do at once.

“I don’t normally do push-ups as part of my workout routine,” Mitch said. “But at age 65 and dealing with a left elbow issue, I was still able to hit over 40 pushups with no problem.”

Larry: “I just turned 61 yesterday and I banged out 61. I practice every day. Now, I don’t expect to be able to keep that up forever, but it’s pretty cool at this point in time.”

Rick: “The more push-ups – or any exercise, for that matter – you can do, the better shape you’re in. So, you’d be more likely to have a better cardiovascular system. If you’re sedentary, you have weaker muscles.”

Martin: “I don’t like push-ups as a measure of fitness. It’s too one-dimensional. I know a lot of super cardio-fit people who can’t do them.”

A Reminder of What’s Important

So, what about you? Do you know how many push-ups you can do?

If you’re concerned, ask your doctor about how exercise and diet can lower your risk. We can get you started in the right direction, or help keep you going if you’ve already begun your fitness journey.

It’s important to resist drawing universal conclusions from one study. But it’s also undeniable that healthier living leads to longer and better living.

If this study gets one person to put down the junk food, get off the couch, and start taking better care of herself, then it’s done a great service.

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Staying Active during Quarantine

While you are quarantined at home, take the time you would have used to commute to your job and exercise instead!  Your excuse before may have been a lack of time, but you now have the time you would have spent commuting for exercise.

Yes, you may have additional responsibilities like home schooling your kids.  But that doesn’t start early in the morning.  Get up at the same time you normally would, get your exercise in, and then start your day.

Exercise boosts your immune system and we all need to keep our immune system working at its best right now.  Even 15 minutes of exercise will make a difference.

A quick workout of 20 squats, 20 lunges on each leg, and 20 push-ups will hit most of the muscles in your body.

There are plenty of exercise shows on TV, as well as classes and programs that provide workouts to members.  Work it into your schedule three days a week and take the other two days and sleep a little later.

Go for a walk (practicing social distancing of course) and get out into the fresh air. I just walked around my yard four times to clear my head, get some fresh air, and to get some extra steps on my FitBit.


Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.


Seniors Embrace Technology during Stay at Home Order

As the governor of Massachusetts issued the Stay at Home Order, the most vulnerable population, our senior citizens, hunkered down and stayed home. Their hope is to remain safe and healthy by doing so.

Staying home will hopefully keep them healthy, but this might also come with a side-effect of loneliness. Luckily, modern technologies like FaceTime and Skype can keep them connected with their loved ones.

I teach several exercise classes for Seniors and when we were told the Community Center I teach in would be closed, I received permission to teach online via Zoom.  When I described to my “Active Agers” (because that is what they are, not just seniors) that it would be like being on the introduction to the Brady Bunch where everyone would be in their own little square, most of them were excited and said, “Count me in!”

Exercise is a huge part of keeping your immune system healthy and my “Active Agers” didn’t want to give up their exercise class. We started Zoom classes the following week and little by little the class size grew as each person became more comfortable with the technology.  Did I need to work one-on-one with some people to get them online? Yes, but I am happy to do that.

I have been running my classes online for seven weeks now and everyone is so grateful to be able to see the others in class. I always open the class up 10 minutes early so they can log on and chit chat.  At the end of class everyone says goodbye to each other.  It is really a great time and helps to alleviate the loneliness of living alone during this pandemic.

Embracing technology benefits all of us at any age.

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Skiing after 50? It’s All about Conditioning

Martin Pazzani grew up skiing and was even a downhill racer in college.

But by his mid-40s, he had drifted away from the sport and from fitness in general, having devoted much more time to work. So, the next time he tried to ski, things didn’t go so well.

“Skiing when you’re not fit sucks,” recalls Martin, 63, a fitness entrepreneur and marketer. “It really does.”

That day was hard on his thighs, and he didn’t have as much control and balance. “I thought I was done with skiing for the rest of my life, at age 45.”

But by the time he went skiing again seven years later, Martin had regained his fitness, so he had the necessary strength, endurance and balance. This time, skiing was more like it’s supposed to be: fun.

“I skied top to bottom my first run and didn’t even stop. I had got it back. It’s all about conditioning.”

Hitting the Slopes in Large Numbers

Baby boomers make up about 20 percent of US skiers, with millions more people over 50 also hitting the slopes. Nowadays, it’s not as physically hard as it used to be because skis are wider and easier to control, other equipment is also better, and the slopes are groomed to be so much smoother.

Plus, “senior” discounts are plentiful, with some mountains even offering free passes to people over a certain age.

And skiers love the fresh air, spectacular scenery, and community atmosphere found at most ski spots.

Here are some general suggestions about getting ready for your first ski trip of this year, or maybe even several years.

  • Cardio. Be sure to go on a few walks each week and take the stairs when you can. Or, if your stamina is already fair, then work in two or three cardio workouts weekly. Martin also recommends jumping rope.
  • Resistance training for legs. Most of the muscle strain from downhill skiing is on your thighs, butt, hamstrings and calves. A nice leg circuit twice a week will help get you ready. That means squats, lunges, leg curls and calf raises. Ask for a demonstration if you’re not familiar with proper form.
  • Core. Skiing requires a strong core because of all the twisting and leaning forward. Get ready with planks, leg raises, and other exercises we’re happy to show you.
  • Flexibility. Stretch before working out with weights, walking or running – and that includes your lower back.


She Doesn’t Let Anything Stop Her

Dawn Lowery, 57, also started as a child, and this will be her 46th year in a row of skiing – “even the years I blew out my ACLs — both knees, different years,” she says.

Dawn, above with husband John, is a physician’s assistant and member of the ski patrol. She stays in shape by hiking and biking during summers.

She practices Pilates and goes to the gym, as well, and says her core and leg strength have been instrumental in helping her bounce back after injuries and surgeries.

“Being active is very important for all seasons,” she says. “There is no off-season for exercise.”

If you want help getting in condition for skiing, send me an email and we can get you started!

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.



Success through Accountability!

Accountability Partners

Accountability Partners: Dianne Bailey and Holly Kouvo

We all like to think we can accomplish things on our own, but sometimes we need others to hold us accountable.

I am a very motivated person. I get a lot accomplished.  I also realize that since I am working on my own, I need someone to be accountable to.  I have belonged to a few different Mastermind groups that kept me accountable to the other members. Through one of these groups, the Be Better Project, I met Dianne Bailey. Dianne is a fellow personal trainer who lives in Denver, Colorado.  We have been accountability partners for almost 10 years.  We have a phone call every 3 weeks and discuss our goals that we want to achieve, review what we have accomplished, discuss ideas together, and hold each other accountable if we didn’t accomplish what we said we were going to.  We coach each other.  We do get together in person every few years and see each other at industry events.  My husband Steve and I are going to Denver this month to visit with Dianne and her husband Jim, and they came to visit us two years ago.

When I work with my clients, I am not just their coach, I am their accountability partner.  If they are an online client, I keep track of their food logs, the workouts they have checked in, any issues that may have come up and I call them on it.  If I don’t see any activity from a client in a few days, I will email and ask if something is going on that is preventing them from exercising.  They know I am keeping track of them.  If they are a one-on-one client, I am seeing them every week and keeping them accountable.

One of the reasons I choose to have a team in the Whole Life Challenge is because people need to be accountable to the team by writing a reflection every day.  I can tell you, that is why my husband and myself got the results we did in the last Challenge.  There is something to be said for having to rate how you are doing every day and then having to tell the whole team how you did.

By the way, you can still join the Fitting Fitness In® Team for this Whole Life Challenge through October 9, 2019.  Click Here if you want to join my team!

If you don’t have an accountability partner, this article details six reasons why you may want to get one.  They are:

  1. You will get an extra push that you need in your business.
  2. You will have someone to bounce around ideas with.
  3. You will have someone to stay accountable to.
  4. You will have someone to share accomplishments with.
  5. You will have someone who can be totally honest with you.
  6. You will drastically increase your productivity.

If you would like to work with me online and have me as your coach and accountability partner, just email me and we’ll get started.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, Brain Health Trainer, speaker and writer.


Get Your Best Body Ever (A step-by-step plan)

Is your body in the shape you want it to be? Do you feel free to wear whatever you’d like without needing to cover up any trouble spots?

If not, then I’ve got a step-by-step plan to get you into your best body ever…


Best Body Ever Step #1: Program Your Mind

Your mind is your number one ally when it comes to achieving your goals. However, until your mind has been programmed for success, it will do more to derail your efforts than to help you.

  • Take a few moments each day to visualize yourself at your ideal weight. Imagine how it feels to look the way you’ve always wanted.
  • Protect your mind from any negative self-talk. If a negative thought comes to mind, immediately reject it.
  • You want to be thin and fit, and yet you think of yourself as out-of-shape and fat. Re-program your mind to think of yourself as fit and attractive, and you will be well on your way toward achieving your goal.
  • Give up the belief that you can’t achieve the body you’ve always dreamed of. See it first in your mind, and then in the mirror.

Best Body Ever Step #2: Conquer Your Fear

Change makes most of us nervous – even if it is a change in the right direction. You may not be consciously aware of the fear you have of getting into shape. Until you conquer this fear, your best body efforts will be blocked by self-sabotage.

Professional speaker and author, Anthony Robbins, has outlined three specific beliefs that you must have in order to conquer your fear and instantly create a lasting change.

  • Believe that something MUST change. You can’t be wishy-washy about it. You can’t be considering it. You can’t even be pretty sure about it. You’ve got to be rock solid.
  • Believe that YOU must change it. You can’t pass the buck of responsibility and expect to lose weight. It’s on your shoulders. Other people will prove to be great assets in your journey, but in the end you are the one who is going to make it happen. You have to want this weight loss enough to make it your personal mission.
  • Believe you CAN change it. You may have failed in the past, but that doesn’t matter. When you put your mind to it, you’re able to do amazing things. Do you believe that you are capable of losing weight? Once you own the belief that you can, you’ll be unstoppable.

Best Body Ever Step #3: Lose Your Excuses

Your excuses for being out-of-shape are getting old. An excuse takes less immediate effort than an action, but in the long run the action taker always has the advantage. Don’t allow excuses to ruin your life any longer.

  • Don’t skip out on your responsibilities with excuses, instead expect more from yourself.
  • Focus on the big reason why you are losing the weight. Make a list of the benefits you’ll enjoy once you achieve your goal and read them first thing each morning.
  • Remember that you can only have two things in life: excuses or results. Which do you want?

Best Body Ever Step #4: Strengthen Your Commitment

How many times have you tried to lose weight, only to give up a week or two later? We live in a commitment-phobic world, so it’s no wonder that you routinely abandon your goals. If you truly want to lose weight, then your commitment to the process is a must.

  • The margin between success and failure is bridged by your commitment. Don’t give up until your goal has been achieved.
  • Treat exercise with the same importance as a work meeting, and you’ll never skip it at the last minute. Find three available 30-minute time slots in your schedule and mark them on your calendar. Now stick to your schedule.
  • If you don’t give up, then you’ll never fail.

Best Body Ever Step #5: Control Your Diet

If you consistently eat the wrong food, then your weight loss efforts will all be in vain. To put it bluntly, you need to stop eating junk. Processed foods, refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup do not belong in your diet if you want to be in great shape. Cut these items out of your diet and replace them with real whole foods like lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fruits.

  • Don’t eat processed foods. Even though processed foods are accepted by our society, they contain tons of chemicals and empty calories that will make you sick and fat.
  • Fat contains twice the caloric density of protein and carbohydrates, so make sure to limit the amount that you consume. Eat lots of lean proteins and wholesome carbohydrates from plants and whole grains.
  • Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds are filled with fiber and antioxidants which are vital for healthy weight loss. Snack on these instead of packaged treats.

Best Body Ever Step #6: Utilize Your Patience 

It takes time to transform your body from fat to fit, even though you want it to happen overnight. Remind yourself that it took time to put the weight on, so it will take time to take the weight off. When you find your patience wavering, or when you encounter a frustrating plateau, do the following:

  • Review your goal. Is it specific and measurable? Is it small and attainable, rather than monumental? Focus on your goal when the going gets tough.
  • Make each workout a new experience. Challenge your body with different resistance, new exercises and a varied pace.
  • Remember that anyone can have one great workout, but that won’t get you the body you want. The only way to achieve your goal is by consistently exercising and eating right, plain and simple.

Best Body Ever Step #7: Build Your Support

People who exercise alone are less challenged, less accountable and are more likely to fail. It makes sense. Who would rush to the gym if no one is was waiting for them? Who would push themselves if no one was paying attention? Exercising solo is a recipe for disaster.

  • Find a workout partner who is in better shape than you, or better yet, work with me, your local fitness expert, to guarantee your results.
  • I am passionate about seeing you achieve results—don’t waste your time, energy and effort on mistakes.
  • When you start a program with me, you suddenly have the upper hand on weight loss. I’ll be in your corner, coaching you each step of the way, keeping you accountable to workouts and giving you that dose of encouragement when you need it most.
  • Not local? Work with me through my online programs and Fitting Fitness In App.

Get serious about your results and begin the last weight loss program that you’ll ever do.

Call or email today to schedule your first workout.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.

Join me in the Whole Life Challenge


The Fall is a great time to get back into a routine of eating healthy and exercising.

Why not make a goal and be accountable to reach that goal.

Here is a way to make healthy changes in your life and have fun doing it. The Whole Life Challenge (WLC) is a way to achieve your goals along with others, and maybe add a little competitive fun along the way.  Join with a friend or two and keep each other accountable.

What is the Whole Life Challenge?

Join the Fitting Fitness In Team!

It is an online challenge that focuses on 7 Daily Habits:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise (10 minutes a day)
  • Mobility
  • Hydration
  • Sleep (more sleep is my goal!)
  • Well-Being
  • Reflection

YOU get to choose your goals for each daily habit.  YOU choose a level of Nutrition and are provided with the food list for that level.

This video gives a great explanation of the challenge and the 7 Daily Habits you will focus on.

What better way to stay on track for 6 weeks before the holidays?  As you move through the challenge, you will earn points for yourself and the team.  All of this will be tracked for you online.

I want to be there for YOU and will keep you motivated daily with motivational messages.

Doing some traveling this Fall?  No problem, you can do the WLC from any location with internet access.  You can be local or you can be hundreds (or thousands) of miles away and still feel like you are part of a team.  You are not alone in this challenge.

Anyone can participate, whether you are just starting out on your health and fitness journey or you are a regular in my fitness classes and want more accountability to keep on track.

The WLC starts on September 28th, but don’t wait to register.

Join my team now!  Click here to register.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Are There Ways to Prevent it?

Everyone knows that growing older comes with its challenges. Aches, pains, and occasional forgetfulness can be inconvenient and alarming. However, as we age, the possibility of more serious issues can come into play.

As some of you may know, my family has experienced the hardships of Alzheimer’s. Seeing the impact of this form of dementia first-hand serves as a call to take steps towards the possibility of preventing the onset of this disease. In support of Alzheimer’s Brain Awareness month, I want to focus on what Alzheimer’s is, as well as several ways that we can help to prevent Alzheimer’s by “strengthening” our brains.

“Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age,” as the Alzheimer’s Association explains. Though, the majority of those affected are seniors, early-onset Alzheimer’s does affect thousands of Americans. This disease is a form of dementia which worsens over time and causes loss of memory and other cognitive functioning. As “abnormal structures called plaques and tangles” develop in the brain, nerve cells become depleted and die. This nerve cell death in the body’s control center accounts for the loss of memory and functioning. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Multiple treatments do exist, yet they do not stop the progression of the disease.

Heart connection

There seem to be some correlation between the conditions that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol) being the same conditions that increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Taking some of the same precautions to reduce your risk of developing heart disease will also reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet and Exercise

Because regular exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, exercise lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

It is always good to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.  Taking a walk every day is a good way to get started.

Eating a heart-healthy diet may also protect the brain.  Limiting your intake of sugar and saturated fats helps to achieve this, as well as eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Social Connectedness and Mental Challenges

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a number of studies show that “maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.”

Staying active in your community and doing activities to keep your brain engaged and challenged are a great way to do your part in preventing the disease.  Reading, solving crossword puzzles, doing jigsaw puzzles, painting, doing word searches, and other brain games will keep your brain challenged.  It is important to try new things as well.  If your brain is used to doing crossword puzzles, change it up and do a jigsaw puzzle or Sudoku.  There are many programs online and on your phone that will keep your brain challenged.  Try new things!

Living a healthy lifestyle consisting of exercise, eating healthy and keeping your brain active will go a long way in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s go to https://alz.org/

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.

7 Tips to Manage your Weight

You’ve heard that managing your weight is all about the lifestyle, and not the quick fix, so today I’d like to give you 7 habits that fit people have. These following 7 habits are held by successfully fit people…wonder if you could apply a few to your own life.

1. Approach Each Day with Perspective

Fail to meet your fitness goals today? Move on. Tomorrow is another day to make smarter decisions. When you wake up, rededicate yourself to your fitness goals without beating yourself about whatever mistakes you made in the past. After all, you can’t change what you did yesterday. All you can control is right now. So get to it!

2. Know Your Body

When you finish a workout, you should feel good. If you don’t, then something needs to change. Either your diet or routine is throwing you off. Fit people know how everything they do affects their body and they take steps to avoid those things that make them not feel and perform their best. Learn how your body responds and care for it accordingly.

3. Find Ways Around Excuses

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t quite get fit, it may be your proclivity for caving to pressure. And that pressure may be self-induced. Fit people do not give into excuses for why they shouldn’t exercise. Quite the contrary. They are continually finding reasons why they should hit the gym and find pockets of time to do it-even if the trip to the gym is shorter than usual.

4. Eat and Sleep Well

Study after study has shown the benefit of eating whole, unprocessed foods. It provides energy and strength, helps you feel full throughout the day, and makes your time in the gym as fruitful as possible. Getting good sleep is equally as important, as it keeps all your bodily systems in rhythm. Put these two fit activities together and you’re well on your way to optimal fitness.

5. Track Your Progress

For some, keeping tabs on health progress is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Once you get into the routine, however, you will become a believer in the power of tracking your progress. Tracking serves to both reward and motivate you, as you see that the countless hours in the gym and smart food choices lead to a healthier weight and greater strength-a.k.a. better overall fitness and health.

6. Think While You Exercise

It can be easy to mindlessly run on a treadmill at the gym if you’re not careful. Just remember that fit people don’t do such a thing. They are very intentional about everything they do at the gym. This means if you want to be fit, you should put some brainpower into what you include in your workout and how you perform each repetition. This allows you to get maximum benefit from your gym time and reduces the risk of injury.

7. Lean On Your Trainer

The final thing fit people do is rely on someone with lots of know how in the realm of fitness. This is why my clients have such a high success rate in achieving their goals – because I make sure that they stick with it! I have a sincere interest in your overall health and well-being and know how to help you reach the goals that can seem so far away when you’re trying to achieve it on your own.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.

What is a Tabata workout?

What is a Tabata workout?  Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercises that can last up to four minutes.

Tabata training was discovered at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team of researchers.

They conducted research on two groups of athletes.  The first group of athletes trained at a moderate intensity for one hour, five days a week for six weeks.  The second group of athletes trained at a high-intensity for 4 minutes 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest between exercises, four days a week for six weeks.

The results showed that the high-intensity workout had more impact on the athlete’s aerobic system (cardiovascular) and the anaerobic system (muscle) than the moderate intensity workout.

When I design a program for clients, I look at how much time they have to workout and what their goals are.  I often design a 15-minute workout that starts with a warm up, then a 2-cycle Tabata workout, next some abdominal work, and ends with stretching.  Since most of my clients are not athletes, I modify the Tabata workout slightly to make it achievable.

When a client starts out, they do not have to go as fast or as intense as the traditional Tabata workout.  As they become more fit, they make the workout more intense.

This is how I structure most of my 15-minute workouts:

1 minute – warm-up

20-30 seconds – Exercise (4-6 exercises) – depending on the client’s fitness level

10 seconds – Rest

1 minute – Recovery

Repeat cycle

3 minutes of Abdominal work

3 minutes of Stretching

I have found that using an App on your smartphone for the timing keeps you moving along quickly without unnecessary breaks.  There are several Apps available; some have music that adjusts the beats per minute based on the interval phase.

It is always good to change up your exercise program.  Adding in a Tabata workout is a great way to get variety and give you a more intense program.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.