March 2010

Motivating the online masses to Tone It Up!

When it comes to being fitness professionals, keeping abreast of the latest and greatest trends is of vital importance. Performing the same old routines, in the same old way just doesn’t cut it in this business. Clients want new and exiting programs, featuring the latest in fitness apparatus, apparel and techniques. In this age of instant information, if you snooze, you loose. AFAA member Katrina Hodgson has not missed a beat with her own series of very popular video shorts along with her counterpart, Karena Dawn, on the video sharing phenomenon known as YouTube.

Fitness became a huge part of Hodgson’s life at a young age. “When I was 12, I was overweight and was teased by the other kids,” she said. “I became serious about sports and fitness in high school…and would put together fun routines for myself.” Hodgson then went off to study exercise science at Keene State College in New Hampshire and became certified through AFAA, which made visits to the campus. Soon after, she was teaching her “Abs and Core” classes at the school gym. After college she moved on to the Boston Sports Club as a master trainer and group fitness instructor. “I taught classes of over 40 and loved every minute of them,” said Hodgson. “I was able to learn so much about different people, what motivates them and take that knowledge to my videos.”

Multi-mediaA New Direction

Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson

In the summer of 2008, Hodgson moved to California and joined the team at Equinox Fitness. It was there she met Karena Dawn. The two found they had a lot in common and had both done their share of sports modeling, fitness product work and DVD production. They both felt they needed a new direction in their careers, so they partnered up and created their Web site “We both recognized that we were a great dynamic and complemented each other’s goals and backgrounds,” Hodgson said. “We started filming videos together in February [2009]. Our first video was on the beach with the little HD camera. Little did we know what the future would hold for us. We now film videos regularly for three channels: fitness, healthy cooking and lifestyle.”

But has the advent of YouTube hurt the fitness industry? Hodgson does not see this as the case. “I think YouTube actually helps instructors and fitness professionals,” she said. “I am huge on visualization. I have to picture things before I do them…especially if it is out of my ‘comfort box.’ If you see it…it will happen. If you can’t see it, then you probably won’t end up doing it.” Being a YouTube instructor hasn’t hampered Hodgson’s career. In fact, she is in more demand than she ever was. She is recognized as receiving more views on YouTube than any other certified or degreed trainer, receiving over 13 million views. “If no one was talking about fitness, showing workouts online, or putting together fitness DVDs, then fitness classes would probably go down in business. The more people see fitness, the more they can imagine themselves doing it. The next time they pass a health club they will feel comfortable going in because it is not foreign to them anymore,” said Hodgson.

A Senior Fitness Boom

In one area of her expertise, senior fitness, Hodgson explained the importance of having a fitness assessment every six weeks. “Ask them to take your blood pressure, resting heart rate, to do a squat assessment, a strength assessment, and some kind of walking or cardiovascular test,” Hodgson said. “If you can’t work with a trainer regularly, then just ask them to meet you every month or so to do a program. This way you will be able to see measurable results and it will motivate you to keep it up.”   Hodgson encourages seniors to make fitness fun and try new things. She emphasizes that going to the gym is not the only option. “Sign up for salsa classes once a week or get outside. I have seen people in their 70s go from needing eight medications, barely being able to get out of a chair without assisting themselves up, to jogging five miles, ditching the medications, and looking and feeling like they did 20 years prior,” she said. “I always tell people…‘You will never regret a workout.’ Get dressed, get outside and get moving. Let yourself be fit and healthy. It is the best thing you can do for your family, too.”

On the other end of the spectrum, with the current childhood obesity epidemic, Hodgson recommends that parents use the right approach and make exercise and eating right fun, and not hard work. “Kids need more programs based on sports, fun games and activities,” she said. “They don’t want to do sit-ups. They also don’t want to eat ‘healthy food.’ I notice that if I set out wheat pitas, chopped veggies, cheese and colorful toppings, kids will actually make their own pizza and choose more toppings than if I made it for them. It is hard to get children to eat healthy…especially with all of the garbage [advertised] on TV.” But Hodgson feels that the government needs to do their part also. “We spend over 100 billion dollars on obesity issues each year when we could actually prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Hogdson pointed out. “Imagine if every state received 20 million dollars a year to put toward PE programs in schools, build parks, farms for fresh produce and education for parents. I like the idea of taxing junk food. That would equal up to more than 10 billion dollars a year to help with health programs,” she said.

Tone it Up with a Sound Eating Plan

Speaking of nutrition, Hodgson and Dawn are always creating healthy recipes in their videos. After taking nutrition courses in college, Hodgson stopped consuming foods that are sugar-filled and use chemical additives, and chose more healthy alternatives for snacking. “It is better to have a hand full of almonds, than to have a diet [soda],” said Hodgson. “The less ingredients the better…especially if you can pronounce them.” Hodgson creates her own healthy snacks that include ingredients such as peanut butter, dried fruit, agave and oats. For a great pre-workout meal, Hodgson suggests a banana, flaxseed muffin or dried fruits, and a good bit of water. “I drink water all day…always more than 80 ounces, especially if I’m training for a race,” Hodgson said.

As motivation is the hardest thing to attain when beginning a workout routine, Hodgson believes you have to dig deep into how clients feel to find their motivation. “My usual quotes are ‘This is 30 minutes of your life…make it count’ and ‘Push harder and show me WHY you are here.’” Hodgson believes clients need to visualize where they want to be in four weeks and push themselves as they are the only ones, and no one else, that can control their health and bodies.

What the Future Will Bring

As far as her own motivation, Hodgson is inspired by the way workouts make her feel and also by the success stories of her clients and fans. She receives cards thanking her for motivating them and family members to get up and get moving. In the future, Hodgson would love for Tone It Up to take off and reach more of the masses and to get more involved in educating people on health topics and to do more charity work. “We recently did a triathlon to raise money for ovarian cancer. We would like to do more events to educate about heart disease, cancers and diabetes,” she said. But, for now, be sure to catch Katrina on her Web site or on YouTube. Just key in “Tone It Up” in the search engine and you’ll find her—motivated and ready to motivate you!