Tag Archives: SmartCore

“I Mean What Would You Call What You Do?”

During a phone call with my sister-in-law this week, she jokingly asked, “I mean what would you call what you do?”  She was referencing my occupation.  I was kind of caught of guard and didn’t really know how to respond.  I do a lot of things, and I’m not really sure that just one of those things defines me.  I am currently still an active CPA, now personal trainer, instructor at Flywheel, full time mom and fitness/lifestyle blogger.  When I had my second daughter, I could never have imagined where I would be just four months out.  That said, I feel so fortunate to finally be doing the things that I feel so passionate about.  Nothing feels better than people telling me they do the workouts that I post on my blogs, they make my recipes and most importantly that they trust me with training them.

IMG_1916I have been teaching at Flywheel since 2012.  Wow, 3 years – 2 kids.  I am so glad that I have stuck with it.  I truly love being on the bike as an instructor and I feel fortunate that I have met so many amazing friends and now family through such a great gym.  As impersonal as sitting on a bike in the dark may seem, the friendships that have been built in that small space are incredible.

IMG_6169By default, my kids have joined the #FlyFam – oftentimes stopping by the studio to see me, pick me up and buy new baby apparel.  This month, I joined the SmartCore team and I am now leading bootcamps every Saturday at 10 AM.  This I LOVE.  I embrace talking to people face to face.  Hearing their issues.  Helping them modify.  Finding ways to help everyone just move.  Sweat.  Get that good sore feeling.  Denise Duffy and Steve Justice have built an incredible environment for working out.  In just a few short weeks, I have absorbed so much information.  Being around them and just exchanging ideas is literally fun.

11665604_1198071913540032_5676168012998063543_nI am in a transition period truly.  I can’t define myself.  I am building a solid foundation to move on to the next phase of my life – fitness.  Change.  Motivating people to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  Strong is so powerful.  While I will continue my blog, I will be reaching out in other forms of social media to just get my name out there.  Saturday, July 25th, I will be doing an Instagram takeover of the @WeLoveCLT account.  Follow me!  Saturday is one of the biggest long workouts days in the city of Charlotte.  It is also the conclusion of 24 Hours of Booty.  I can’t wait to walk followers through all of the activity going on through my eyes on a typical Saturday.  It is really incredible how active people in Charlotte are.

IMG_6229My clients motivate me every day.  I want to be the best for them every time that I teach, train or just get together with them to chat.  With just a month until my Super Spartan Race, I am continuing to improvise my own workouts to meet the expectations that I have set for the obstacle race.  See my week below.  While it was very similar to last week, I did tweak some things.  As the race gets closer, I will start to taper off and rest my body.

Monday – Garage Strength Workout 

Monday and Tuesday are my big strength days.  I like to think Monday is my “brute” strength day.  Heavy.  Powerful.  Hard.  Check out the workout below.  Start to finish – 51 minutes.


  • 20 Burpees
  • 10 Burpee Pull Ups
  • 20 Box Jumps
  • 10 Squat Extensions – Kettlebell
  • 20 Upright Rows – Kettlebell
  • 10 Deadlifts – Kettlebell (each leg)
  • 20 Sandbag Curls
  • 10 Squat Jumps
  • 20 Steps Ups – Sandbag (total reps)
  • Bucket Carry x2 up and down driveway
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Tuesday – SmartCore Fitness Bootcamp Run Through

I have said it once, I will say it again.  I actually completed the bootcamp that I will be running on Saturday as my workout.  Total time – 58 minutes.  It says a lot about the workout if I am legitimately doing it as a key piece of my own training.  I am not just throwing something together that I don’t respect enough to make it a valid piece of training for anyone.  This workout is a combination of cardio, brute strength and core exercises.  It hits those little muscles that you don’t hit from just doing some of the isolated exercises listed above.  There is thought put in here.  I am working on maximal burnout through total body movements.  I already know that these exercises will make the Spartan Race seem easier.  Again, I can’t just post the workout!  You have to come check it out.

Wednesday – Cardio/Running

Two solid strength days are followed up with a running day.  My legs (specifically my glutes) were very sore after my Tuesday workout.  I had to take the running easy.  Has anyone ever told you to listen to your body?

IMG_6160Get it.  We are running here.  Every half mile, we are doing an exercise.  Stop – Go.  It’s how that Spartan Race works.  It’s how to drive your heart rate up on a seemingly normal boring run.

  • Run 1/2 mile.
  • 30 Sit Ups – Sit ups.  SIT UPS.  No crunches.
  • Run 1/2 mile.
  • 15 Leg Raises
  • Run 1/2 mile.
  • 20 Pushups
  • Run 1/2 mile.
  • 10 Burpees – Yes, I was panting after these.

Repeat as many times as you need to.  I clearly repeated 2.5 times.  I was short on time.  That’s okay.  The most important part is that I got some solid mileage in and practiced that stop-go exercise.  Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.  That’s what obstacle races are all about.  Stop on a sidewalk, patch of grass, you name it.  Don’t be afraid to get a little muddy.

Thursday – Double Time Flywheel – Run to Pick Up Car

Rocking classes.  New and old faces.  Loved it.  I use this day as a straight up cardio day.  As I have said before, this is a great cross training workout for me.  Resistance training on the bike builds my leg strength and the flats definitely work on my turnover.  Playlist below.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 12.57.48 PM

I didn’t intend to do anything else exercise wise on Thursday.  However, when I walked out to my car prior to heading to Flywheel I noticed that I had a flat tire.  Good thing I leave for class early.  I was able to drop my car off and get to class on time.  Phew.  Later on that day, I ran to the place that my car was being worked on with my child in tow in the jogger.  It’s mom strength.  I hate to ask for help.  Enough Said.

Friday – Garage Cardio Strength Workout

I stayed up past my bed time Thursday.  I had a hard time getting up Friday.  I pushed through.  Friday is typically my big cardio strength day.  Let’s really focus on that Spartan Race.  Stop Go exercises, sand bags, bucket carries and brute strength.  Here we go.

IMG_6179I got three miles in over fifty-five minutes.  While I was feeding my daughter at 4 AM, I jotted down the workout that I would do.  Hey, if I don’t go in with a plan, I usually end up just dilly dallying.

  • Run 1 lap around block – approximately 1/2 mile.
  • Carry bucket of rocks around the block – See picture below.  It took me forever.  It’s 50 pounds.  It’s awkward.  I had to put it down and pick it up.  It was dark.  There is a reason why I did this exercise first.
  • FullSizeRender-39Perform the following set of exercises sequentially:
    • 10 Burpees
    • 10 Push ups
    • 5 Burpee Pull ups
    • 3 Burpee Pull ups to Knee Raise
    • Squat Extension with Sand Bag – see picture below.  This will work your grip and strength.  The bag is approximately 40 pounds.


  • Bicep Curl with Sandbag x20
  • Step Up with Sandbag x10 each leg (hold sandbag on the shoulder of leg that is stepping up)
  • Side Bend x20 each side
  • Touch toes to Pull Up Bar x5
  • Grip movements (narrow, wide, front) x5
  • Run 1 lap around block.
  • Walk around block with Sandbag.
  • Repeat set of exercises.
  • Run 1 lap around block.

So hard, but this workout left me feeling super strong.  Again, confident in the upcoming race.

IMG_6162I am taking every day one day at a time.  I am building a solid foundation both physically (for my race) and mentally (for my future).  Fitness is my passion, and I hope that I make that apparent to each person that I interact with.  The best part about my new transition is my ability to spend more time with my children.  They are growing up too fast.  It seems like yesterday, my oldest daughter was learning to sit in a high chair.  Now she is in a booster seat, working on her lap top and coloring and breakfast.  Time will not slow down!


Putting In That Extra Effort

I haven’t posted since Monday because I have been putting in that extra effort (quite literally) this week.  While continuing to dig deep with my Spartan training, I happily subbed several additional classes at Flywheel, met the ladies of FiA for an early morning beat down and co-led my first weekend bootcamp at SmartCore Fitness.  Details to follow.  It was an incredible week, full of amazing levels of effort put forth by everyone that I was surrounded by.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 12.57.46 PMLet’s start with Flywheel.  It has already been almost two months since I started teaching after having baby number two.  The transition back to pre baby body has been made easier by enjoying several rides a week on the bike.  The downside of taking so many weeks off is that I have to work my way back on to the schedule.  I also have to get my name out there so people know I am back.  Well, I AM BACK!  While my regular class times – Thursday 10:45 AM/11:45 AM and Sunday 7:30 AM – are difficult for most to make it to, please check the schedule for days that I am subbing.  I am doing everything that I can do to get out there during times that I know my “regulars” can make it to!  As requested, see Sunday’s playlist above.

IMG_6015Following Thursday’s double, I grabbed lunch at neighboring hot spot Leroy Fox with a fellow rider and co-worker.  The decor in this place is as well thought out as the delicious food.  Upon entering the doors of the restaurant, the right wall is covered in words that represent street names in and around the neighborhood.  I actually think I might try to make something like this for my home (in a smaller version, framed and on the wall).

IMG_6010I had a refreshing barbecue chicken peach salad.  I love salads that are juicy and flavorful enough that I don’t even need to add dressing. This is one of them.  The sauce over the chicken mixed with the juiciness of the peaches gives the lettuce and vegetables enough flavor to pick the dressing up off the plate and give it back.  After teaching a double prior to eating, this was just what I needed to refuel.   Full disclosure – I actually ended up teaching another class that night.  Making sure I ate enough “good for you” food was imperative.

IMG_6030Three classes on Thursday equals over two hours on the bike.  I had every intention of sleeping in and taking a day off on Friday.  My plans changed when my youngest woke up at 4:00AM for a feeding and my husband admitted that he was not going to get up to go to the gym if I wanted to go.  Geez.  I have to take these days when I can get them.   As my daughter finished her bottle, I made the decision to lace up my running shoes and say “hell with it”.  I drove over to Metropolitan prepared to get a decent run in if I didn’t do anything else.  It is always nice to run with someone else.

IMG_6031Go figure, the day that I show up to put in a less than stellar effort, I was informed that we were partnering up and performing a AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout in which there might be a “winner”.  Great.  Competitive Jen kicked in.  Everyone had picked partners the night before.  Except me.  I looked around the circle of ladies before seeing the one new person that didn’t have a partner.  Well, here goes nothing.  She was literally the “Real Deal” (which ended up becoming her nickname).  Over a matter of forty minutes, we ran almost four miles, up and down stairs, while performing several sets of pushups, squat jumps and partner wheel barrows.  I’m pretty sure on the run we were hitting 7:15-7:45/mile splits.  Thank you “Real Deal” (Cara) for taking me out of my comfort zone.  While I train people all of the time to do this, sometimes I need someone to do it to me.

IMG_6025I earned an afternoon off for some playtime with my oldest daughter.  Boy is it hard to find things to do when it is so hot outside.  Anything with water or indoors seems to be the preferred activity.  Anyone else have any ideas?  I would love to hear them.

IMG_6043I FINALLY got my chance to sleep in Saturday, before getting geared up for my first bootcamp at SmartCore Fitness.  I joined fellow CPT, Denise Duffy, to lead 10 hard working individuals through four, four exercise circuits.  This workout is legit and hard.  Several things differentiate it from your average bootcamp:

  • The thought put into it – This workout was not put together on the whim.  The order of each and every exercise is methodically organized such that you get the most out of the muscle groups that you are working.  Hence “Smart”Core.
  • The number of complex movements using your entire body – Four, four exercise circuits, means you are doing at least 16 different movements over the length of the workout.  I have been to several places where you might only be doing 4-7 exercises the entire workout (and they are basic exercises).
  • The length – 60 minutes.  There is also some leeway here.  It’s go at your own pace.  If you finish before an hour (good for you).  If it’s going to take you an extra ten to fifteen minutes, that’s OK.  Depending on how quickly you move, you can burn ALOT of calories.
  • The ability to modify – Having a Certified Personal Trainer overseeing a smaller group, allows us to be able to modify specific exercises to work around weaknesses, injuries or at times that we see fatigue.  There is no need to neglect an entire exercise when modifications can be offered.  There is also no reason why ANYONE cannot do this workout (regardless of your fitness level).  Change is good.
  • The strength component – I am always surprised how big the strength piece is.  You will likely be sore somewhere the next day.  This stuff is not easy, light weight repetitions.
  • Working out indoors (and out) – We will likely take you outside for a cardio component.  Yes, there is cardio in this workout.  Again, if you don’t like running – there is a modification.

I have to say, the group that showed up Saturday knows how to work.  While the entire circuit was designed by Denise, I am looking forward to taking ownership and adding a spin on several exercises over the next few weeks.  If you are interested in checking this out OR want to learn more, please reach out!
IMG_6045I was so pumped after that bootcamp that I came home excited to continue my own training for the upcoming Spartan Race.  Apparently there might be a SmartCore team in the upcoming Sprint?  I’m down.  Did anyone else notice that Amelia Boone is gracing the cover of the most recent issue of Runner’s World.  Obstacle course racing (OCR) is taking over the racing scene.  Bootcamps are a perfect way to train the body for the stop go motions involved in completing a race like this. My daughter actually pointed at Amelia and said “mommy?”.  Whoa.  Biggest compliment ever.  This girl is a machine.  She pushes a 500 pound sled.  My husband can’t do that.   You better believe that I am checking out her Instagram for workout inspirations and ideas (clearly not at her level, but modified).

SmartCore Fitness – Functional Core Training in Small Groups

My post last week about the importance of core training to our fitness drew a lot of traffic and great feedback. I gave readers a brief introduction to SmartCore Fitness, which recently opened its permanent location in the Midtown area of Charlotte. This week, I joined a small training group to complete my first workout with owner/personal trainer Denise Duffy.


This studio and endeavor has been a long time coming for Denise. I first met Denise in 2007 upon taking one of her coveted cycle classes at the Dowd YMCA. My husband was also teaching at the Y at the time, so their friendship allowed me to get to know her better over the years. It was through several interactions that I learned Denise is a Duke graduate who left a corporate career at GE to enter the fitness industry. Her passion helped her build an incredible group of clients. Through her hands on approach with each client, Denise is able to adjust group training circuits, to meet the needs of individuals. In fact, to better meet the needs of her clients, she took the step towards opening a studio that was better equipped to handle the type of workouts that her groups are used to.


So, that brings me to SmartCore Fitness and my workout. The location (situated on Baxter Street between Uptown and Myers Park) is great and so are the hours. The first training group starts at 5:30 AM and there are sessions all the way through lunch. Parking is free and getting in and out of the lot is very easy. Let’s talk about the inside. I can describe this place in three words: open, clean, and upbeat. Everything you need from the place that you are going to work out. Upon entering the studio, there is a room with cubbies (see above) for clients to put their things in. In the case that you need to change, there is a beautiful single person bathroom.


The studio is set up such that two groups can be running the same circuit simultaneously beside each other. Each group is made up of 2-6 people. This is not one on one personal training, but rather station to station group training. I will be the first to say that these stations are more intense and well thought out than anything I have ever done. Remember in my prior post when I said the core is made up of a lot more muscles than just the abs (some of them you probably don’t even know that you use)? Denise has found a way to touch all of those muscles in a planned format that will allow your body to get the most out of each exercise.


One unique trait about Denise is that she has such an understanding of each individual’s health history, that she can adjust ANY exercise such that every client is getting the most out of that respective day’s circuit. So let’s say I had knee surgery that prevents me from doing certain leg exercises. Before I would even get to a station that might bother my injury, Denise would already have tweaked it such that I could work the muscle that she was aiming for me to work in the original exercise.  In the workout that I completed today, we utilized the following pieces of equipment through several stations (see pictures):

  • TRX
  • Bosu Balls
  • Bands
  • Dumbbells
  • CorDiscs
  • Foam Rollers
  • Gliding Discs
  • FreeMotion Dual Cable Cross


I can’t list everything we did today, because it took me over an hour to complete and the moves are very complex.  Exactly why you need to stop by (you get your money’s worth).  It is worth mentioning that the facility has four FreeMotion Dual Cable Cross machines.  I bring this up because these machines by themselves have gotten a lot of great publicity lately as it relates to core/strength training.  Both Shape and Self Magazine recently had great write-ups and workouts on the machines (see links below).

Self Magazine FreeMotion Dual Cable Cross Article

Shape Magazine FreeMotion Dual Cable Cross Article


With the ability to run two circuits at the same time, Denise opted to bring a second personal trainer into the business. That is where Steve Justice comes in. What a perfect fit.  Steve is also currently an instructor at Flywheel, but his background in athletics and fitness goes far beyond Flywheel. Steve was an All-American Center while playing football at Wake Forest.  He also played in the NFL several years, which ultimately brought his family to Charlotte (he played for the Panthers). After he stopped playing football, he lost over 100 pounds and he has completely transformed his exterior physique. Like Denise, he is very down to earth and light hearted (as seen through the sweet picture above with his beautiful little girls).  And in case you were wondering, Denise would not have brought Steve on if he couldn’t provide the same individual/unique experience to each client that she does.  The circuits will be the same regardless of whether Denise or Steve are working you through them.


So, how do you get hooked up with this great group?  Denise and Steve both still have space open to train new clients.  See the scheduled times for both below.  The best way for you to reach them is through email or phone.

Denise – deniseduffy@carolina.rr.rcom (704) 906-5653

Steve – justice7415@gmail.com (317) 340-7291

Please feel free to ask many any other questions as well.  I loved my first visit.  The group that I worked out with was so fun and encouraging.  As I write this, I am still feeling the effects of a workout that made me feel empowered and strong.