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Introducing Coach Mark—Welcyon's Fitness Guru

Cardio Training in the Zone

Zone Training Burns Fat, Boosts Energy and Makes You Feel Great

At Welcyon, we talk a lot about strength training—and for good reason. It lays a solid foundation for years of great health. But to reach the next level of fitness, you need to add cardio workouts to the mix.

That means jogging on the elliptical or cruising the virtual track on one of the club's recumbent bikes two or three times a week. But how do you know if you're working long or hard enough to shed pounds or improve your tennis game? That's where training in the zone comes into play.


The zone, or more precisely—the target heart rate zone—is the optimum cardio training range for goals like losing weight or improving performance in activities like biking, swimming and running. Determined by your age and general physical condition, the range tells you how fast your heart should beat per minute to fully benefit from cardio exercise. For example, a healthy 60-year-old woman may have a target range of 116 to 156. When doing aerobic exercise, she'll want to keep her heart beating within that range—occasionally popping to the high end for best results.


Follow Your Heart: Two Paths to a Great Cardio Workout


There are two ways to see if you're hitting the zone during a workout:


1. By the Numbers: Use an electronic device or app to measure your heart rate. Your coach calculates your target heart rate zone for you when you join the club, and most of Welcyon's cardio equipment measures heart rate and provides programmed routines for zone workouts. There's also a constellation of gizmos to get you wired and fired.


2. By Your Body: Though option 1 is certainly the best way to track your cardio training, there's much to be said for just listening to your body. By paying attention to your breath, sweat, and other bodily cues you can gauge your target heart rate zone with amazing accuracy. This is a great way to go if you're not inclined to wear a heart-rate monitor or can't remember your numerical training zone.


The fancy scientific term for option 2 is rate of perceived exertion (RPE). This is the way we get people into the zone at Welcyon's Small Group Cardio classes. It's easy to use and requires no complex math or technology. Here's how it works.


Let's say your goal is weight loss. Burning fat requires a moderate—but by no means exhaustive effort. To start igniting calories, you need to go at the pace of a steady jog. You'll break a light sweat, breathe deeply and still be able to talk. It won't be Hamlet's soliloquy, but you'll manage short sentences. Keep this up for 45 minutes a few times a week to stoke your fat-burning furnace.


We've developed an easy-to-use chart to help you work out at the right intensity for your goals. Divided into 10 zones, it shows you what you should be feeling for any given workout. Want to gain a little strength and endurance? Train at the “brisk-walking” pace of Zones 2 -3. Planning to compete in a 10K? Crank it to hard-sweating Zones 6 -7. Looking to dominate the tennis court? Better pump it to the max by training in Zones 8 - 10.


For Best Results—Try a Small Group Cardio Class.


Meanwhile, remember that our Small Group Cardio classes are a great way to get you in the zone! They'll push you harder within your own limits, and open up a whole new way of looking at cardio workouts. Try one out soon. Check your club page for days and times.


I'll be a frequent presence on these pages in the coming months. By exploring the fundamentals of strength training, cardio fitness and overall “body flossing,” I hope to help you enjoy more vitality for life—for years to come.


About Coach Mark

Physical Therapist, MS and Developer of Welcyon Fitness Program

An expert in athletic training, and physical and occupational therapy, Mark Richards is the mastermind behind Welcyon's strength-building program. He developed the protocols that help members double their strength within a year. He also trains our coaching staff and provides ongoing guidance for developing new classes and activities.


Have a question about fitness ? Ask Coach Mark! If your question is selected, he will answer it in an upcoming blog. Remember, you should always consult your personal trainer, fitness coach or physician regarding specific issues, symptoms or conditions.

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