Thursday, April 18, 2024 Apr 18, 2024
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Cover Story

How to Get Fit

When three D Beauty contributors committed to nine weeks with a personal trainer, they had no idea what they were in for. Though there were struggles (oh, the aching muscles!) and the occasional misstep (darn Frappuccinos!), the girls lived to tell all. Here are their stories.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Recovering Runner
After a college injury put her gym days behind her, Sarah Warren called on Everett Aaberg to ease her back into working out and rehabilitate her knee.

Vital Stats
Start Weight:    130
End Weight:    126

Start Body Fat:    28%
End Body Fat:    20%

Day 1
 I stand barefoot while Everett analyzes my posture and alignment. “You’re more screwed up than I thought,” he tells me. My pelvis is tilted, causing the muscles in my spine to contract and placing an unnatural amount of weight on my knee. We discuss my schedule and decide on a five-day-a-week program combining general aesthetic exercises with corrective movements to provide an extra challenge to the left side of my body—the side that needs to get stronger in order to pull its share of the weight. I will be working out with the trainers on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and will be doing 40 minutes of cardio on my own on Saturday. My weight lifting workouts will alternate between posterior and anterior training. This is an efficient way to train because I can lift weights back to back while giving my muscles time to recover on their off days.

Day 3   
 I feel a little dizzy during my first workout with Everett’s co-trainer, Ryan Overturf. Evidently a Frappuccino on the way to the gym isn’t a balanced breakfast. He makes an appointment for me to meet with TELOS nutritionist Yvette Quantz.

Day 8
 Pre-workout, I hop onto the massage table to have my tighter muscles treated with Muscle Activation Techniques (M.A.T.)—a type of integrated tissue work designed to correct muscle imbalances. M.A.T. feels a little more intense than the deepest tissue massage I’ve ever had. My psoas (a muscle running in a band from the spine to the pelvis) is swollen from years of overcompensating with my tilted pelvis, and it’s especially sore. I’ve never really been a believer in homeopathic therapy, but true to his word, after Everett finishes prodding, my muscles seem to “open up.” Our workout includes a variety of lunges and squats, and unlike prior trips to the gym, my body is able to bend and flex without any knee popping or pain.

Day 12
 Today I’m working out on my own on the stationary bike. I keep pushing for something more exciting, like a cardio class or jogging outside, but my body isn’t ready. Although I’m thrilled at the prospect of rehabilitating my knee, I’m hoping to trim down a bit, and I can’t see that happening without a healthy dose of cardio. Wrong. I’m surprised to learn that running and other aerobic exercises are not the most efficient way to burn calories. Everett explains that with running, metabolic rate returns to normal after about 60 minutes, while your body continues to burn fat after weight lifting for up to 12 hours after you leave the gym.

Day 17
 I broke a personal record in weight lifting this morning, and my muscles are beat. It was an anterior day, which meant lots of squats and crunches. My body is starting to crave protein, which is exciting because I’ve been told that means I’m gaining muscle. Myoplex, a high-protein, ready-to-drink shake, was the first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes this morning.

Day 25
 I’m doing well with the workouts, but I’m feeling frustrated with my diet. My work schedule has picked up, and it feels impossible to eat right all the time. You can work out until you collapse, but unless you’re eating a balanced diet, your body won’t reap the full benefits of the workout. I know this. Everett and I discuss healthful options at fast-food restaurants (grilled chicken salad at Chick-fil-A, two McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwiches without the buns). He then makes me lunge around the gym for the rest of the session. By the time we’re finished, I feel like crying.

Day 34
  This morning I grabbed my iPod and went for a jog. It was amazing. My heavy panting was the only indicator that this was my first time out in a long while. My knee didn’t ache at all! Tonight I spent a solid hour trying on clothes that I wore in college. My weight hasn’t changed much in these five weeks, but miraculously I’m able to wedge myself back into jeans that haven’t seen daylight since my sophomore year. If I can resurrect these pants by the end of the program, I’ll consider it a miracle.

Day 45
 I’m curious about my five-minute warm-up on the stationary bike before weight training. I worry that I’m going to pull a muscle, because years of touching my toes pre-workout are ingrained in my mind. But Ryan says that passive stretching has shown little results for increasing range of motion and can actually be detrimental to joint health.

Day 59
 Tomorrow we’ll take my final measurements. Whatever the numbers say, I have been happily surprised with the results. I can see definite muscle tone, and my body appears leaner. But perhaps the most exciting result has been the return of full function to my knee. After eight weeks of M.A.T. therapy, I’m jogging again on weekends without worrying about injury. I’m not running as often as I used to, because I’ve learned that lots of high-impact cardio isn’t always necessary to lose a significant amount of body fat. And those college-day skinny jeans? I’m wearing them right now.


* First breakfast: Myoplex Carb Control shake, or blueberry, blackberry, and plain yogurt smoothie with one scoop egg-white protein powder

* Second breakfast:
Scrambled egg whites
2 turkey sausage patties
½ whole-wheat tortilla

* Lunch: Chipotle burrito bowl with veggies, chicken, mild and medium salsas, corn salsa, lettuce, and ½ portion of guacamole, or Eatzi’s build-your-own salad with ½ field greens, ½ spinach, Cajun chicken, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, onions, carrots, almonds, and fat-free tomato-basil dressing

* Afternoon snack: Tuna packet with low-fat mayo and a protein bar, or 22 almonds

* Dinner: Chipotle burrito bowl, or turkey burger from Hunky’s with ½ whole-wheat bun


* Everett Aaberg is co-owner and director of education and fitness services at TELOS. He is recognized internationally for his expertise in biomechanics and Muscle Activation Techniques. He is a former Mr. Colorado who has been recognized by Men’s Journal as one of the top five trainers in the country.

* Ryan Overturf is assistant director of professional training and a M.A.T. specialist who is a published writer, presenter, and certifying instructor for both TELOS and the Cooper Institute.

* Jessica Starnes is a former collegiate cheerleader specializing in strength and weight-loss training. She is a TCU graduate and one of the newest members to the TELOS team.

photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Gym Girl
As a weight lifter and runner stuck in a rut, Jessica Elliott turned to Jason Harnden to toughen up her workouts.

Vital Stats
Start Weight:    134
End Weight:    130

Start Body Fat:    23%
End Body Fat:    14%

Day 1
Jason checks my posture, joint mobility, and general movement. He notices that I have weak back muscles; no surprise, because I sit at my desk all day, which has put some stress on my spine. He wants to focus on building strength in my posterior muscles while also working my anterior muscles.

Day 3
I’ve always been a runner before a weight lifter, so I’ve usually done my workouts in that order. Jason says that’s exactly the opposite of what I should be doing; weight lifting should be done first, to reap the benefits of hormonal changes. Plus, he says running a farther distance burns more calories from fat—which is good—but running a shorter distance at a faster pace burns more calories overall—which is best. Meaning I’ll be incorporating some tough sprint sessions into my workouts. I’ll be running five times a week, with two sprint runs, two four-mile runs, and one five-mile run. And I’ll be lifting with Jason four times a week. It’s more than I’m used to, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Day 12
  I’m heading out of town, so Jason gives me a travel plan for the next few days, using exercise bands and tubes. I wrap them around the hotel room door to complete the motions, and it looks ridiculous. But I sweat more than ever before and get a solid workout. I never thought I’d be so dedicated, but to be working out on vacation, I’ve clearly got it in me.

Day 20
 My muscles are sore from our intense workouts, but that doesn’t prevent me from grazing on the huge amount of food my family cooks up for our annual reunion. Seven-layer dip, mouthwatering barbecue, banana cream pudding—yum. Luckily, Jason doesn’t ask how I eat on the weekends, though our workouts are sort of turning into confessionals. It’s nice weather, and Jason says he always wants me to run outdoors. The environmental factors make it harder, and you build more endurance that way. Note to self: next time pack a gym bag with extra running gear and keep it in the trunk. I would’ve enjoyed an evening run to burn off all that food.

Day 22
 My workouts are definitely tougher this week because Jason’s gone. The thought of setting up the machines and lifting on my own is intimidating, but I get through it. I’m now following a diet he has outlined. Preparing food, keeping a food diary, gathering gear on a daily basis, exercising, and journaling—it’s a lot of work. But I’m definitely feeling more fit and in shape. It’s funny—I’m always hungry for my next meal, though at first I always felt full. Jason says that’s a sign that my metabolism is revving up.

Day 27
 After running a quick two miles a few days ago, I’m pumped for today’s Butterfly Boogie 5K race at Reverchon Park. But it’s rainy and insanely humid, and to make matters worse, for the entire race I’m convinced I’m running faster than I am. At a finishing time of 27:12, it ends up being about 40 seconds faster than my last race, though not my target time. Jason thinks the strength training could be tiring my muscles. We’re hoping for improvement next time.

Day 30
 I’m learning the importance of drinking enough water: Jason has me sipping nearly 100 ounces a day. I’ve had muscle cramps, and the water has helped. I’m also pouring sweat after every workout. It’s embarrassing, but at least I’m burning some calories. I’ve also noticed that my legs have more power when I run—as though they are climbing the hills themselves. It feels great.

Day 53
 I’m lifting heavier weights. Jason likes to bump up the pounds a notch when I’m not looking. It’s tough but also exciting to see so much improvement. I’m also getting my diet under control and have learned the concept of a splurge meal: one night I down margaritas, chips, queso, fajitas, and ice cream. It’s perfect—and I don’t feel like I’m bulging out of the skinny jeans I managed to get into for dinner.

Day 62
 Great news. Though I’ve had shin splints (dealt with those during middle school track), I complete the Too Hot To Handle 5K at White Rock Lake in my fastest time yet: 25:54, finishing fourth among women in my age group. It feels awesome, and it’s nearly a two-minute improvement from the last race. Though speed isn’t a focus of my training, it’s obviously an added bonus. And I’ve noticed a huge change in my body: my muscles are visible (I never knew it was possible to have shoulders like these), and my clothes fit far better. I’ve even gone down a size. I love the compliments my husband, Adam, tosses my way. My weeks of hard work have definitely paid off. I’m never looking back.


* First breakfast: Myoplex Carb Control shake

* Second breakfast:
1 c. (cooked) old-fashioned oatmeal
1 hard-boiled egg, 2 hard-boiled egg whites
½ c. strawberries or blueberries

* Lunch:  4-5 oz. lean meat (chicken breast, fish, bison)
1 small sweet potato, or 1 c. brown rice
1-2 c. steamed or grilled vegetables (broccoli, green beans)

* Afternoon snack:  Myoplex Carb Control, or an apple with 1 tbsp. peanut butter

* Dinner:
4-5 oz. lean meat
1-2 c. steamed or grilled vegetables
1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, to curb carb cravings


* Ranked as one of the top 100 trainers in the nation by Men’s Journal, 12-year fitness veteran Jason Harnden of Axis Fitness designs personalized fitness programs with unique and challenging exercises based on biomechanics. Jason is an international lecturer for the Cooper Institute, and his clients include NFL Hall of Fame inductee Troy Aikman, NHL player Jason Arnott, and PGA golfer Brian Watts, along with locals looking to shape up and reach their health goals.

photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Sports Fanatic
Getting Alexis Pond to hit the gym has never been easy. So Corbin Lawson mapped out a program that let her lift weights at home and play the sports she loves.

Vital Stats
Start Weight:    152
End Weight:    150

Start Body Fat:    34%
End Body Fat:    28%

Day 1
 I am recovering from an appendectomy, and, on top of that, I haven’t worked out in a long time. Today, Hashim Raja, a Muscle Activation Techniques therapist, tested the strength of my core muscles. The right side of my body is completely weak (it used to be my stronger side) because of the appendix being on the lower right side of my abdomen. Corbin says we will carefully focus on rebuilding my muscles there. Getting back into a routine is going to be frustrating because I will want to go full force, but I’ll have to ease my way back to regain my core strength. Corbin took all my body measurements (which had a sobering effect). After, he watched my positioning on lifting weights and doing lunges. He recognized I have a swayed back, and he says I should keep my abdominal wall slightly drawn in to be sure I’m using the correct muscles when lifting.

Day 3
 My exercise routine will consist of working out seven times a week. Four of those seven must include 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights. For the other three, I can play a sport or take a yoga class or other fitness class. I’ve been craving peanut butter, and Corbin says I can have it—but in moderation, of course.

Day 7
 Today I went to yoga to fulfill my workout. We have a class at work, which is really convenient. My core was so tight and weak, I was not able to complete all the poses, especially the full backbend. When I modified the pose, I could still feel my muscles pulling. The first week, I did the weights at the gym, but I finally bought the equipment I needed to work out at home or the park.

Day 11
 Today I woke up early and hit the pool to swim laps. My heart started pumping fast after only doing about two laps. I can feel it in my shoulders and triceps. It was so much better than running on a treadmill. Corbin says I should swim for at least 45 minutes if that is the only workout I will be doing that day.

Day 16
 Corbin has changed my workout, and I’ve taken my cardio from 30 minutes to an hour plus 30 minutes of weights. He also added more lunges. On weekends I’ve been playing tennis as my workout. I usually play for two hours and sweat about a liter. Swinging my racquet has really allowed me to work on my obliques. My stamina is building.

Day 27
 Today I was craving sugar. So I splurged and got a light Frappuccino from Starbucks. Later on in the day I could feel the 32 grams of sugar melting to my bones. I confessed my sugar sin to Corbin. His response wasn’t too encouraging. Sugar is the first thing our bodies burn as energy—especially when it’s in a liquid state such as sodas, juices, and dissolved sugars in coffee or tea. It’s also a cause of insulin production in the body, and over time, the body gets used to this effect and starts craving it. Corbin says the best way to counteract this effect is to avoid eating sugar in the first place. He says a good replacement is fruit—say, a whole apple, orange, or banana—which will satisfy the craving. With the damage already done, I decided to jog to Cole Park and do some step-ups and push-ups on the park benches.

Day 35
 My strength has almost fully returned. My goals have been to become more lean and work up my core again. So far, the biggest difference I have seen is from my weight training. It has helped me slim down and tone up. I guess no matter what type of exercise you choose, weight lifting should be incorporated.

Day 43
 I’ve been taking the Core Fusion class at Exhale after work. I can tell that I have more strength in my abs; I can hold a crunch for eight minutes! I’ve also been doing my weights before work. I’ve been struggling with my eating, though; chips and salsa always kill me. I try to have only two chips so I can fully enjoy my taco salad from Taco Diner.

Day 57
 I’ve come to my last week. Taking on this challenge not only forced me to change my diet and exercise, but also my time management. I’m so pleased that I’ve been able to fit playing sports back into my schedule.


* Breakfast: Low-sugar yogurt (usually Dannon Light & Fit) with blueberries, strawberries, and whole oat granola

* Mid-morning snack: Cottage cheese with peach slices, or a sliced apple with 1 tbsp. peanut butter

* Lunch: Diced chicken breast with chopped broccoli, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes, or a taco salad made with lean ground beef with chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avocado, and cheese

* Mid-afternoon snack: Rolled deli meat with one slice of cheese, or a Larabar (I recommend the apple pie flavor)

* Dinner: Grilled steak or salmon, grilled veggies, and a sweet potato, or wheat pasta with chopped chicken or lean ground beef, fresh mushrooms, and tomatoes with a small amount of marinara


* In 13 years of personal training, Corbin Lawson has lectured to more than 1,000 industry professionals and earned certifications from the American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Focus on Fitness RTS courses, and the Cooper Institute. He has expertise in resistance training, outdoor adventure racing, sport-specific training, and overall human performance. Corbin has served more than 500 clients and was selected as a “Top 100 Trainer in America” by Men’s Journal in 2004 and 2005.

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