Sign up to receive our newsletter and Fitness & Yoga tips from Imagine!

Blog - Imagine Fitness & Yoga

John and Nelson’s Corner: The Challenge of Staying in Shape Over the Winter

If you are reading this blog you probably know what winter is like in Michigan:

Winter is the season when some of our best intentions to stay fit are swept aside by our complacency. You know the symptoms/excuses: “It’s too cold to run.” “It’s too dark for a walk.” “My gym is too crowded, hot, cold, far away, etc, etc.” Or, if you are honest with yourself, “I am too cozy at home, why venture out?”

Then suddenly it’s spring again and you find you’ve lost most, if not all of the fitness you worked so hard to achieve. Now you are back to zero and worse you have also put on a few pounds.

Here are some suggestions that will help you deal with the inconvenience of winter:

  1. If you are a runner and would like to continue to run outside, get the right gear to sustain outdoor runs on cold days. Today’s cold weather gear is terrific. If you need help just ask the trainers at Imagine, especially Nelson, he will have an answer for you.
  2. Join a good fitness facility, Imagine comes to mind, and use it regularly. Make it a priority.
  3. Use the treadmills and stepper machines when the footing is poor outside.
  4. Lengthen your workouts in winter to compensate for the lower overall winter activity level so you don’t gain weight. For example, gardening/walking in the summer is a great way to keep gain weight in check.
  5. Take a weekly cycling class to supplement your aerobic routine. This is a challenging way to maintain aerobic fitness and burn calories in the company of other, similarly-minded people. Plus it’s fun! Join Jackie and her troupe and you will see what I am talking about. You’ll have fun and she will work you hard.
  6. Experiment with different workouts to challenge different muscles. Take classes from a variety of trainers, you will find that each one has their own spin and favorites. Of course Jeff Barnett has the best stories and Margo is Margo, she has it all.
  7. Take some fitness classes, like circuit training or yoga. Here again you will find that each teacher is different but very good. For advanced yoga try Wendy or Sandra.
  8. Set a goal to do a 5K in early spring something you’ve always wanted to do, but were never prepared for after a long winter. Just talk to Nelson he will get you ready.

Winter in Michigan can be a challenge, but this year, let it be just another bump in the road that you navigate on your path to life-long good health and fitness.


John and Nelson’s Corner: Testing Yourself


Challenges, Goals and Expectations…


Just over a year ago I started teaching a fitness class at Imagine Fitness and Yoga.

The class is at 6am, so I had to keep it interesting!


After a few weeks of working out, I decided to test the class just for fun. Actually I had reasons for doing that.

  1. Establish a baseline for each person. In other words, determine what each person is capable of doing at this stage.
  2. I wanted the group to have fun, but also create a level of competitiveness.
  3. Lastly, I wanted them to know that they can make progress and that progress mattered to me.


To accomplish the above I selected a set of exercises that each person had to do; for example:  Push-ups, pull-ups, plank, jump rope and so on. I also recorded what each person did that day.


This test was not met with a lot of enthusiasm at first, but the class quickly “got into it”. Weeks after I posted the initial results, I noticed a marked increase in the group’s effort level overall.


Last week, I had the class complete the same test again.  This time I added a 1 mile run to the warmup. Not surprisingly, at least to me, everyone improved from their baseline performance on each test.  I also felt an increase in the energy level from every participant.


The class really started appreciating the rewards of their hard work. The run prior to the test also had an interesting effect on the group. Running was suddenly not so intimidating. Their goal now is a 5K race as a team in a few weeks. Should be fun.


This example illustrates how adding some challenge to a routine workout can help participants recognize their progress and encourage them to keep going and improving.


A good fitness regimen is diverse and offers many activities in which improvement can be measured. Once you have decided on your program, establish a baseline of your capability for each activity. Check your progress every 10 to 12 weeks. With regular (3X/week) exercise, you should expect from 10% to about 30% improvement over your baseline in 3 months.


While you adjust to your new workout regimen try not to compare your performance to anyone else.  Remember everyone responds differently to training. It is important that you keep some records as you progress to remind yourself how far you have come! Last but not least, never, ever stop trying to improve and always have fun.

Running Your First 5K


Dexter Ann Arbor is a little less than four weeks away – can you feel the excitement? No? Well, I can. It may be a little late to start training effectively for the half-marathon if you’re new to running, but fear not – there’s always the 5k.






Hmm. That cheer of enthusiasm sounded an awful lot like a groan of despair. But trust me, 5K races are so much fun you’ll actually find yourself wanting to exercise more. Strange, I know, but true.

Taking part in a 5K is an amazing experience – and not just because of the running. 5Ks are everywhere these days. The races are incredibly festive, like one big athletic carnival, with runners in colorful outfits, booths set up to show off cool new gear and nutritious food, and crowds of friends and family and random spectators there to join in the fun.

And then there’s the run itself. Completing your first race gives you an amazing sense of accomplishment and purpose, whether you come in first or finish 20 minutes behind everyone else.

Life these days can be pretty uncertain – just look at the politics in Washington – and who knows what next week will be like, much less tomorrow. But finishing a 5K gives you a sense of control, of confidence. You set yourself a goal, and you accomplish it.

Once you do that, you feel like you can do anything.

But as cool and accessible as a 5K is, preparation is still important. We are, after all, talking about a little over three miles. It still is a good idea to take some specific steps to get ready for your first race, which may require a solid 30-35 minutes of jogging at a steady pace.

This plan will get you ready to run a 5K with four weeks of training. Because time is limited, we’re going to focus less on speed and more on building endurance.

Week 1: Guess what? We’re only running four days this week! Do three miles a day, the first mile running, the second walking, and the third running again. Total miles: 12. If this sounds too much to you, then run a half-mile and walk a half mile instead of one mile. Total is still 12 miles.

Week 2: We’re still only running four days this week, but we’re upping the mileage on two of them. On days one and three, do a total of four miles – running the first mile, walking the second, then running two more. On days two and four stick with the same plan as last week. Total miles: 14.

Week 3: This week we’ll add a mile to days two and four as well. So each day you’ll run one mile, walk one mile, then run two more. Total miles: 16.

Week 4: This week we reduce the walking. On days one and three, run three miles in a row. Keep days two and four the same as last week, running one mile, walking one, then running two more. Total miles: 14.

Option 2: Don’t increase the miles, just keep it at 12 each week.


Tips for Race Day:

* Before the race, jog slowly for 10 minutes to warm-up. Do some gentle stretching. It will get your heart rate up and  muscles loose.

* When the gun goes off, don’t start off fast with the masses. If you expend too much energy at the start, it’ll be harder to finish strong. Start conservatively and push hard in the last half of the race.

* Have fun!



John and Nelson’s Corner: Fitness and Persistence



Have you ever met someone who says they want to be out of shape? Of course not – we all at least say we want to be fit.

So how do we do it? What’s the magic trick?

Well, there is actually a trick, a single word that’s not exactly magic, but comes pretty close. I’m talking about persistence.

I want to share with you a few of my friends who embraced that simple word and accomplished everything they wanted.

Larry Eiler is a successful businessman I met 35 years ago, when he and his wife came to my dental office. His wife, Sandy, passed away unexpectedly a couple of years ago. Needless to say, it was extremely difficult on Larry.

One day I invited him to come to Imagine. Larry was trying to lose a few pounds, and also embrace life after his devastating loss. I introduced him to one of our trainers, Natalie. Before I knew it, Larry had lost ten pounds and was coming in all the time.

“I feel great,” he told me with a big smile. “I was just at my cardiologist and he told me I was in the best shape I’ve been in in 35 years.”

I loved Larry’s enthusiasm. He’s been working out daily, seven days a week, for an hour at a time, and watching his diet too. He feels fantastic and has a whole new lease of life. Persistence.

Then there’s Heinz Grassl. I’ve known Heinz since our days as undergrads in aerospace at Michigan. I won’t even tell you how long ago that was because I really don’t remember.

Heinz was active, played volleyball at a competitive level, and loved a stiff Manhattan after work. As he aged, his love for Manhattans increased and his volleyball faded.

Heinz is one of my best friends and I want him to stick around for as long as possible, so I kept encouraging him to take up yoga to improve his flexibility, balance and overall health. He finally signed up for a class with Sam – in fact, he was Sam’s first student at Imagine when we opened. He struggled, but Sam was patient, he had her full attention.

To my amazement, Heinz stuck with it, and soon Sam’s class started attracting more and more people. It’s now the most popular class at Imagine. The students love yoga and they love Sam – and they also love to party.

Heinz himself is an expert at parties, having run a business with me years ago called Parties Unlimited. Yes, this was an actual thing. A well-kept secret you should definitely ask Heinz about.

Heinz now takes two yoga classes and two fitness classes a week. Parties or no. Every time I see Heinz, he’s upbeat, all smiles, and looks fit, very fit in fact. I’ve known Heinz for years, and he’s never been dull, but I must admit I’ve never seen him quite this energetic.

Two weeks ago Heinz told me that he’s even been encouraging his sister in Germany to start working out, and she finally has. Heinz has become a fitness crusader. I love it.

Persistence, persistence, persistence.

I could stop here, but let me tell you two more quick stories.

Kit Howard – a patient of mine I’ve known for about twenty years.

She’s extremely bright, smart and entertaining, and one day she came to a yoga class at Imagine – and promptly left a few minutes later. I didn’t think she’d ever come back. Boy, was I wrong.

Now I see Kit often at yoga classes, fitness and cycling classes. She’s attended all of Jackie and Natalie’s presentations on nutrition and never hesitates to add her two cents worth. She’s definitely taught me a thing or three.

Lastly, there’s Victoria Paye, whom I met a year ago at Imagine. Victoria is in her early 30s, and the first time I saw her in Nelson’s fitness class, she couldn’t do one push-up.

How times have changed. Now she can hit at least ten push-ups, her form in planks is something to admire, and she can hold one for at least two minutes. And her yoga? I’m glad you asked. I saw her taking Wendy’s class, and for those of you who don’t know, Wendy is a tough teacher. She does not mess around. Well, neither does Victoria. She was more than holding her own. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be teaching one day.

Like I said, it all comes down to that one magic word – persistence. All four of these people found their path to persistence at Imagine. And trust me, you can too.


John and Nelson’s Corner: If You Can’t Run, Walk

I’ve known Nelson for 25 years.

I met him one hot day in July 1991 while I was out running. I was on West Liberty, less than a mile from home, when I saw him running towards me. I waved, and he waved back. I could tell he was the friendly type so I yelled, “How far are you going?”

“Three or four miles!” he shouted.

I crossed the street and added a few more miles to my run.

We talked and ran, talked some more and kept running. Actually, now that I think about it, he did most of the talking. Of course, Nelson’s version is that I left him out to die while I headed home.

Since that day I’ve run more miles with Nelson than anyone else.

That’s not why I’m writing this “Corner” though. I’m writing this because even though Nelson is my best running buddy, he’s also the person who got me interested in walking.

Yes, walking.

Nelson believes in walking as a way to stay fit and healthy, lose weight and just stay upbeat. For years, he’s done everything he could to get his coworkers to go on walks, even if it’s just a few minutes during their lunch-break.

In fact, he’s so passionate about walking, here he is with a few exhortations of his own:

Hi guys, Nelson here. And yes, John really did leave me to die on that very first day.

If you’re trying to jump-start a healthier lifestyle, walking is a great way to go. Here are a few easy goals to set for yourself:

  1. Start today by committing to walk at least 20 minutes a day. (Schedule a meeting with yourself if needed to block out the time.)
  1. Put on some comfortable shoes, and get out the door. Walk at a comfortable pace. No need to hurry.
  1. Walk for 10 minutes and then walk back.
  1. Repeat this daily – that’s right, every day.
  1. Over time try to go a bit longer until you can go out 30 minutes  on some days.  This will give you about one hour of walking and about 3 miles of aerobic exercise.

To check your progress, note where you turn around at 10 minutes for the first week or so. You’ll find that in time you will cover more distance as your aerobic fitness and strength improve.

I promise you’ll feel better and will notice a significant increase in energy after only a few weeks!




2017 Enrichment Series from Imagine


Each month Imagine will be hosting a class on a different topic, with a different instructor for your continued learning in 2017!

Check out all of the amazing topics below. Give us a call 734-622-8119 to sign up! Attend all 10 classes for only $100, 6 for $72 or drop in to any class for $20.

All classes will be held at Imagine Fitness & Yoga from 7:00 – 8:00pm

(Updated Schedule with changes and NEW Topics!)


February 21 – Recap and Restock: Jackie Farah & Natalie Peterson

In 2016, Imagine Fitness and Yoga introduced Nutrition Workshops; each month focusing on a new topic covering a broad base of facts and tips for healthy living.  In this session, we will recap facts and tips on the topics of Grains, Vitamins and Minerals, Herbs & Spices, Fruits & Vegetables, Nuts & Seeds and Sugars.  Based on these topics, recommendations on how to best stock the pantry for cooking throughout the year will be made.

April 17 **New Date** Yoga for Arthritis: Wendy Dolen
Yoga is a gentle and safe way to manage arthritis. Participants in this workshop will learn how to implement Yoga into their lifestyle in order to alleviate pain and joint stiffness. In addition to the physical benefits, Yoga also aids in increasing overall wellbeing by reducing the stress and frustration that can arise from living in chronic pain.

Learn postures specifically healing to your body in order to manage your arthritis. Props such as blankets, blocks and bolsters will be used in order to achieve comfort in each pose that you learn.  No experience is necessary; all levels are welcome.

April  27 – Diet & Exercise Together – The Best Combination for You: Jackie Farah & Natalie Peterson

A great expression you often hear around Imagine is “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”.  Similarly, you won’t see weight benefits by just exercising.  What’s the right combination for you?  How much should you work out each week?  How can you modify your diet to see results?  If you’re exercising more, should you eat more?  More of what?  In this workshop we discuss finding the right balance, the right foods, and the right program just for you!

May 23 **New Date and Topic**– Yoga for Back Care Part 1: Sam Lieberman

Back pain is one of the most common causes of discomfort in the body. Yoga can help you not only alleviate pain but to avoid it all together. Learn safe and effective postures to help you during times you are experiencing pain as well as preventative postures to increase the health and wellness of your entire body.

Maintaining the health and flexibility of your spine through Yoga is something that every person can benefit from. No experience is necessary; all levels are welcome.

June 22 – Plant based diets – The why and what behind all the hype: Jackie Farah & Natalie Peterson

Numerous scholarly articles cite the benefits of a plant based diet focused on lots of fruits and veggies.  We often hear of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.  How does one start with a plant based diet? Will you feel “full” enough?  Where do you get the proteins?  What exactly are the health benefits?  Come explore the variations you can incorporate into your diet for a more healthy plate.

July 27 – Tai Chi for Recovery and Wellness: Diane Evans 

Tai Chi has proven to reduce stress, improve balance, focus, memory and concentration and increase strength, flexibility and overall well-being.  The movements of Tai Chi are performed in a slow, gentle manner igniting your inner strength which empowers the mind and body.

Join us for this workshop where you can learn about how to implement this “moving meditation” into your life in a non competitive and welcoming environment. No experience is necessary; all levels are welcome.

Aug 24 **New Topic** Mobility, Balance, and Posture Alignment: Natalie Peterson

This hands on workshop will cover the important aspects of mobility, balance and postural alignment.

Mobility refers to the ability to move your joints through a proper range of motion with control in order to prevent injury, strengthen joints and improve strength. You will learn quick and effective mobility exercises to implement into your daily routine or workout warm up.

Balance is critical for every person to maintain in order to avoid injury. You will learn safe and effective exercise to improve and maintain balance in order to avoid falls.

Correct postural alignment ensures that your bones and joints are kept in optimal position, making sure that your body is working effectively and efficiently. You will learn important exercises to improve your overall posture.

By improving postural alignment, you will decrease pain, increase circulation and digestion and improve the overall quality of your breathing. No experience is necessary; all levels are welcome.


September 28 – Yoga for Back Care Part II: Sam Lieberman

As an extended class from our May, Yoga for Back Care class, continue learning safe and effective postures to help you during times of pain.  These preventative postures will increase the health and wellness of your entire body.

Maintaining the health and flexibility of your spine through Yoga is something that every person can benefit from. No experience or previous class attendance is necessary; all levels are welcome.

Oct 26 – Meal Planning For A Week: Jackie Farah & Natalie Peterson

Now that all the pieces are in place for what we can do to modify our diets from various perspectives, how can one plan a week of meals?  What are some tips for budgets?  We’ll share shopping lists, menus and recipes, and even leftover suggestions!

November 16th – Thai Yoga Massage: Benefits and Demo: Joyce Brown
Thai Yoga Massage is a unique practice that combines rhythmic massage, assisted Yoga poses and meditation. During this practice the healing energies of the body are stimulated and blocked areas are opened balancing mind, body and spirit.

During this workshop postures will be demonstrated and then given with guidance. Each participant will learn to give Thai Yoga massage as well as receive a massage. No experience is necessary; all levels are welcome.

Dec 28 – FEAST!

Let’s eat – our treat!

John & Nelson’s Corner

Most of you know who Nelson and I are, or maybe you think you know.

Nelson is the wise one, he has advice for everyone. Me, I’m the one who follows that advice – well, 10% of it anyway. But even that 10% is worth it.

Here is some advice that’s not from Nelson, but he likes it anyway.

I was reading the New York Times recently and, guess what, experts found that if you exercise moderately for 150 minutes a week or more vigorously for 75 minutes a week you reduce your risk of dying from any cause – this includes heart disease, cancer and more – by a whopping 30%.

Thirty percent. Can you believe it?

They came to this conclusion by scrutinizing approximately 65,000 health questionnaires completed by both males and females.

So, if you exercise – regardless of whether you run, do yoga, or lift weights – you can reduce your risk of dying by 30%. That is huge.

And that is why Imagine is here for you, so you can not only live longer, but also live better.

It’s a brand-new year, come on over and get started living.

-John Farah

Sugar Alternative Baking

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

2c Pureed Pumpkin (1 15oz can)
6 eggs
1/4c Ghee or melted Butter
1/2c Honey
1c Almond Flour
1/2c Coconut Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp all spice

In food processor mix pumpkin, eggs, honey, melted ghee or butter. Add the almond flour, ¼ c of coconut flour, salt and all the spices. After mixing, if your batter is still loose add the remaining 1/4 c of coconut flour (you want the batter thick but pourable). Pour into loaf pan. Cook at 325 for 40 min or until toothpick comes out clean form the center.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1c Instant Oats
3/4c Whole Wheat Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs coconut oil or unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2c Maple Syrup or honey
1/4c Raisins

Whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in med bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg and vanilla. Stir in your sweetener. Fold in raisins. Let the cookie dough chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325. Drop cookies onto parchment paper or nonstick cookie tray in 15 rounded scoops, flattening slightly. Bake for 11-15 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes.



Client Feature: Carol Gagliardi

What brought you into Imagine?

I had been interested in taking a yoga class for awhile but had never got around to it.  When Imagine opened right below the dentist office it seemed too convenient to pass up.  Still I hesitated, until I had my annual routine physical and found out that I had osteoporosis from a tumor on my parathyroid.

The parathyroid regulates calcium and because mine was overactive, it caused calcium to leach from my bones.  I had the tumor removed but realized that the damage was done and I had better start taking my health a little more seriously.

I finally decided to sign up for that yoga class.  I had read about the benefits of yoga and thought now was the time.  Sure enough I found that yoga made me feel better and I actually enjoyed the classes!  So I decided to take the next step and sign up for the circuit classes.  I feel stronger, less tired and more flexible!  It has been a great experience for me and signing up for the classes helps keep me motivated.

What do you enjoy most about Imagine?

The people at Imagine are wonderful and the staff and instructors are very welcoming.  They help people at every level and sincerely seem interested in the cliental.  I love that it is so personal and that the members are incredibly friendly too.  The coffee and snacks are great too!

Have you achieved any health and fitness goals working out at Imagine?

I always thought that just “life” provided enough exercise and that playing the cello and gardening was good enough. Since I’ve been working out at Imagine I realize that there really is something to this exercise thing!   My goals are to continue to get stronger and improve my posture and maybe even lose a few pounds.

What inspires you, what quote and or mantra do you live by?

As I get older I feel it’s important to keep moving, stay busy and try new things.  And remember the mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.



Sign up to receive our newsletter and Fitness & Yoga tips from Imagine!

Privacy by SafeUnsubscribe

Contact info:

Imagine Fitness and Yoga
3100 W Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Monday - Thursday: 6:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 6:00 am - 3:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - Noon

Copyright Imagine Fitness. All Rights Reserved.