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Ask a Patch Pro: Personal Fitness

Bobbi Ettinger Wilf, the owner of the Hopkins Curves, is here to answer your questions.

Minnesotans have learned to make the most of the state’s short summers. But the flip side is that the end of the good weather can bring on the temptation to hole up and veg out.

In order to help you stay in shape throughout the year, Patch has rounded up a group of fitness experts from around the Twin Cities to answer your questions.

Bobbi Ettinger Wilf is the owner of the Hopkins —which , her daughter and the facility’s general manager.

Teresa McKnight is a personal trainer in Lakeville who specializes in kettlebell training.

To find out tips from these Patch Pros, just ask your questions in the comments below then check back later to see what they have to say.

Susan August 16, 2012 at 11:54 PM
How do you effectively work the abs when you have a bad lower back - a couple degenerating discs? It's seems to be a circular problem as I am told to build stomach muscles to help support my back, but the stomach exercises hurt my lower back...
Bobbi Ettinger Wilf August 17, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Hi Susan, first of all sorry to hear of your discomfort. The truth is that generally, the stronger your abs get with consistent ab strengthening exercises, the less your back will hurt. If it feels like a skeletal issue, and not a muscular problem that could mean you have swollen or herniated discs. In that case maybe you should check with the Dr. again . In any case gentle strenght training and CONSISTENCY is sometimes the key. At Curves, we have 3 hydraulic strenght training machines that specifically target the abs and back. The Ab Machine, Oblique and Lateral Lift. Also, swimming or Yoga might benefit you. Good luck, Bobbi at Curves
Susan August 17, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Thanks, Bobbi. I had an MRI last year, and one about every five years previous to that just to monitor how bad it has progressed. Disc degeneration is very common problem that can eventually get bad enough for surgery, but thankfully I am no where near that point yet. I was just wondering if you had any exercises you could recommend for the abs that didn't involve stress on the lower back. I have been through the PT route, but didn't find that very helpful. Thanks.
Bobbi Ettinger Wilf August 17, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Hi Susan, you certainly have been doing all the right things in following up. You are probably already doing these strengthing suggestion: STRETCHING for flexability to ease pain may help, walking, Yoga (resorative or Hatha). Partial crunches can strengthen your back and stomach muscles: breath out as you raise your shoulders (slightly) but don't lead with your elbows or use your arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold a second then slowly lower back down. Repeat 6-8 times. Proper form prevents stress on your lower back. How about ice and hot packs?? Or massage?? Good luck, Bobbi at Curves
Susan August 17, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Heat and massages every other week...they are very helpful! Others have suggested Yoga as well, and I will try your other suggestion this weekend, thanks!!
Danielle Cabot August 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM
This is a weird question, but when i get on an elliptical machine, I never know where to put my feet on those large platforms. They usually end up squished against the top. Center? Sides? Doesn't matter?
Ryan Gauthier (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 11:19 PM
How often would you recommend lifting weights? I've always heard the body needs some recovery time between sessions, but are we talking once a week, twice a week or as much as an individual can handle?
Bobbi Ettinger Wilf August 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Hi Danielle, at Curves we have an elliptical "stepper" and there are numbers 1,2,3 as to where to put your feet. Numbers 1 and 2 have a deeper range of motion than 3. We recommend standing on 1 and 2 as it seems less stressful on knees. I am not sure this answers your question but if it is similiar to ours it may help you. Good for you for exercising!
Bobbi Ettinger Wilf August 18, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Hi Ryan, at Curves we recommend 3 times a week and maybe walking on off days. Although, Curves Equipment is Hydraulic rather than "weight stack" type so it is much more "fluid" like swimming. Generally, if lifting traditional weights it is recommended to do upper body one day and lower the next. We have members that come in 5 days a week but may work "harder" one day and less the next. Hope that helps. Bobbi at Curves

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