Local fitness instructor Jackie Securo recently took the top spot in a national fitness challenge. She chatted with us about her big win, exercise tips for women and more.
What's your reaction to winning the R.I.P.P.E.D. national fitness challenge?
I stayed up until the very last minute trying to get votes. My picture was in the top spot (online) all day, but I still wasn't sure that the picture order was any indication of who had the most votes. At that point, I could only hope.
I was on my way to Atlanta with my family when I got a call on my cell phone at 3 p.m. It was Terry Shorter, the creator of the R.I.P.P.E.D. program. He put me on speaker, and his wife, Tina, and a group of master trainers were all there to congratulate me on being the 2013 R.I.P.P.E.D. 2 Fit Challenge grand prize winner! A whole range of emotions went through my mind. All of my hard work had paid off.
When Terry asked how I felt, I told him that I was shocked and excited, but most of all I was tired and couldn't wait to get some rest! The magnitude of winning still hasn't quite registered. I am so grateful for my family, my students and friends, my R2F coach, the Shorters and everyone who supported me and voted for me! I'm headed to Orange County, Calif., in September to shoot the Season 14 instructor DVD. It will be sent out to thousands of certified instructors in October.
I am excited for the video opportunity, but what I'm even more thrilled about are the positive things that are happening as a result of my win. I have the chance to inspire and help change lives. I now have an opportunity to spread the word about the fantastic benefits of R.I.P.P.E.D. Hopefully it will boost its popularity in the local community. I'm proof that the program yields results. I'm currently in the process of becoming a certified Venice Nutrition coach, like (my coach) Erin Woodbury, and eventually I will have my own business as a Venice Nutrition consultant.
What's your advice for exercising outside in warm weather?
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, pace yourself when you first start to exercise in the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks when needed. Always drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration will cause heat-related illnesses. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. If you plan to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, drink a sports drink because they can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Don't forget to wear sunscreen, as a sunburn reduces the body's ability to cool itself.
During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness and confusion. When you notice any of these you need to lower your body temperature and get hydrated.
Do you have any recommendations for women who are trying to figure out an exercise routine?
Modern women are busy juggling home life, kids and careers. Many have increased health-related issues due to sedentary behavior or insufficient knowledge about the most beneficial exercises for their bodies. I think it is important to discuss strength training with women because there are many misconceptions out there on the subject. Sadly, women simply don't strength train enough.
I wasn't seeing changes in my own body until I learned the lesson that women cannot afford to skip weight training. Increasing and maintaining adequate muscle mass is one of the best ways to reduce body fat and increase overall health and fitness.
Strength exercises boost metabolism. Muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active, so muscles burn calories well after you leave the gym! Adding only two sessions of strength training per week can reduce overall body fat. Increased muscle boosts metabolism and bone density. Despite these benefits, most women spend the majority of their time doing cardio.
The most common reason women mistakenly avoid strength training is because they're afraid of developing bulky muscles. Gaining bulk requires a balance of heavy lifting, specific nutrition, and increased testosterone levels, which genetically, women simply do not have.
There is a simple rule to follow: to get stronger, use heavier weights and fewer repetitions; to promote endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions. Combine strength training with cardio, preferably interval training, and proper nutrition for the best long-term results. Always fuel your workout properly! Dieters often make the mistake of cutting out crucial muscle-maintaining protein when reducing overall caloric intake. As a result, muscle mass is lost, which is counterproductive.
Any other exercise tips specifically for women?
Women, especially as they age, struggle with cellulite. While exercise can't prevent cellulite, it can reduce the appearance of it. Cellulite is fat, so calorie-burning activities and proper nutrition makes skin appear smoother. Strength training tones the muscle beneath the cellulite, and that firm foundation will reduce the dimpled look of cellulite.
One of the questions I'm most often asked is, "How do I get a flat stomach?" Most people think doing tons of crunches will do the trick. However, crunches are not the best move to target your abs. Most women initiate crunches from the hip flexors without fully engaging the core. This may get the surface muscles in the abs, but not the ones underneath which are essential for a flat tummy. Instead, focus on moves like the plank and side plank to work the areas of the core that are often neglected.
Job: Group fitness instructor -- teaches at Smith Gym/Fort Benning (R.I.P.P.E.D., Zumba Fitness, Aqua Zumba, and Aqua Fitness), YMCA (Zumba Fitness, Aqua Zumba, and Aqua Fitness) and Spring Harbor retirement community (Zumba Gold)
Hometown: Clarksburg, W.Va.
Current home: Columbus
Family: Husband of 13 years, Tony Securo, and three children -- 12-year-old Aliyah Securo, 11-year-old Logan Securo and 9-year-old Dru Securo
Education: B.S. in psychology from Fairmont State University; Master's Degree in rehabilitation counseling from West Virginia University
Favorite book: Thanks to my kids I fell in love with the Harry Potter series.
Favorite movie: "It's a Wonderful Life"
Favorite quote: "...if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it'll spread over into the rest of your life. It'll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level." -- by Bruce Lee