Reboot your workout

The problem: Your old workout isn’t giving you results anymore

By Beth Janes

The Participant: Misty Olson

Since having two kids in 2004 and 2008, Misty Olson says her usual routine—hitting the elliptical or doing an occasional eight-week boot camp at the gym—hasn’t been working as well. “I don’t need to be a size 2,” she says. “I just want to find an effective, sustainable plan.” Chicago paired her with Shred415, a fitness boutique with locations in Lincoln Park and Old Town (a studio in Northfield opens this month). Shred415 offers classes—designed to be compressed and intense—nearly every hour during the day, so Olson was able to easily fit workouts into her busy schedule as a freelance project manager and stay-at-home mom.

The plan: High-intensity circuit training at Shred415

Her 12-Week Program: The Shred415 workout alternates fast-paced weightlifting circuits with heart-pumping intervals on a treadmill—a great way to jump-start Olson’s metabolism. Tracy Roemer, one of the owners, started Olson with just three Shred sessions a week. “It’s intense, so the body needs days off to recover,” she says. Olson liked that she could tailor the workout to her fitness level: Instructors call out walking, jogging, and running paces for the treadmill portions, and Olson started with lighter weights.

That doesn’t mean she dialed it down. “Every workout has a built-in personal challenge. I try to do my intervals a little faster or use heavier weights than the week before,” she said during week 5. Although Olson started at a walking pace, after several weeks she was jogging. (At week 9, she even ran a 5K in Madison, Wisconsin, with her 8-year-old daughter, Ella.) “The instructors are great at pushing you,” Olson says. “And because you know you’ll only be sprinting for 30 seconds or will finish the strength circuit in ten minutes, mentally it’s easier to go as hard as you can.”

Web Exclusive Her Diet Rules:

  1. Sit down for lunch. Because Olson runs from school drop-off to home office to play date, the midday meal often gave way to convenient carbohydrate-heavy snacks. Swank says a structured lunch, including filling protein, will curb hunger and between-meal snacking.
  2. Eat less red meat. Olson used to eat beef about four times per week. Swapping in ground turkey, tofu and beans for a few of those servings is a painless way to cut calories and saturated fat but still get plenty of protein.
  3. Control carbs. Sneaking her son’s fries, and snacking on crackers, pretzels, and chips—Olson doesn’t have to give up these indulgences as long as she doesn’t overdo it. “If one serving of chips is 15 chips, portion out 15 then put away the bag,” Swank says. Olson should also choose whole-grain snacks, such as popcorn.

THE PAYOFF: After a slow first month, Olson began losing at least a pound a week. Off the scale, however, her results were more dramatic. “All my clothes fit better, and I just bought jeans one size smaller—I went from a size 6 to a size 4,” she says. She felt great and also gained never-before-seen definition in her arms. At her recent 40th birthday party, friends were buzzing about her new body. Says Olson, “It was fabulous to have people I haven’t seen in a while come up and say, ‘Wow!’ ”

NEXT: Zero-cardio Training at Jim Karas Studio

MAIN: Reboot Your Workout

Photography: Jeff Sciortino; Stylist: Theresa DeMaria/Factor; Hair and Makeup: Allie Kunkler/Ford