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February 11, 2019

What millennial women need to know about getting in shape, according to Philly fitness pros

Local trainers share their best tips to help kickstart a fitness plan

Fitness Tips
sit ups fitness unsplash Bruce Mars/Unsplash

Taking the reins of their own health is one of the best, most empowering things a person can do.

But as rewarding as the process may be, it takes time, effort, planning, maybe even learning a new thing or two and definitely stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. It’s not easy and can certainly be daunting – if you’re not prepared, that is.

To help you get ready if you’re just starting off, or as a refresher if you’re fitness regimen waxes and wanes like the moon, PhillyVoice chatted with three top-notch local fitness trainers who have a lot of experience in the business, working with people who, like you, might be a little new or nervous. 

RELATED READ: Are these popular diets (keto, paleo, etc.) keeping your gut healthy?

Below, you’ll find tips from Shannon Brennan, Jess Sullivan and Mark Donohue — three of Philly’s finest and friendliest instructors — sharing their top tips geared toward millennial women looking to get in shape. Use their wisdom to propel your fitness efforts from this point forward.


“Take one day at a time. Trust the process. Sure, this is easier said than done, especially when social media makes you think everything can happen over night. Be OK with the journey, embrace the journey. Be patient and kind to yourself. The most difficult and longest challenges often have the sweetest rewards.” — Shannon Brennan, We/Fit instructor at City Fitness and coach at BPM Fitness 


“I think we're currently in the midst of a really exciting rise of fitness bringing people together socially. Going to workout is now just another alternative to a night out. They aren't mutually exclusive by any means, but attending a class is a cheaper and more rewarding alternative to a night out (not to mention no hangover...).

“If you're nervous about trying a new workout, bring a friend. Philly has so much to offer in terms of group workouts, the hard part is deciding on one that pushes you to your next level. Attending a fitness class is your opportunity to carve some time out for yourself and, as with anything, you'll get out what you put in. Use it as an opportunity to conquer the mental and physical challenges presented to you." — Mark Donohue, manager and master trainer at Unite Fitness 


“Yes, I'm sure you've seen girls on Instagram with bands wrapped around every body part doing ninja warrior moves. Does that work for them? Maybe! But will it work for the greater population? Maybe not.

“Simple body weight moves like squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups are not only the safest form of exercise, but they also are the most effective! Stick with simplicity.”  — Shannon Brennan 


“Women often mistakenly think cardio is the way to a hot body. I feel you — no one loves a spin class as much as I do! But coupling some cardio with more resistance training is what truly builds strength and sculpts your body into what you want. 

"If you aren’t experienced, hire a trainer to get you started, or find a resistance training class! Whether it’s weights, TRX straps, or body weight exercises, its resistance training that will truly get you the lean physique you desire.” — Jess Sullivan, Flywheel instructor and personal trainer 


“Try setting a goal for yourself that doesn't involve aesthetics, like losing weight. Those goals are great and can be very motivating, but they also can leave you feeling down when you don't see immediate improvement. I encourage my clients to set goals that involve strength or discipline — think doing a pull-up or going to the gym in the morning four days a week. These goals are much more attainable and leave you feeling powerful, strong and fierce!" — Shannon Brennan 


“Diet is everything — truly, everything. There are no shortcuts. Drink water and eat fruits and veggies. Opt for real foods, often. Raw veggies, cooked veggies, blended veggies — do it all. Cut as much sugar and processed, chemically-altered garbage as you can from your diet and replace it all with REAL food from the earth. Don’t aim for perfection, but get it right 90 percent of the time (one to two indulgences a week)." — Jess Sullivan


“The reality of dairy is scary and unnecessary; physically, ethically and environmentally. I was an avid dairy-lover four years ago, but we're fortunate that these days there are so many delicious nut or soy-based alternatives like Treeline, Follow Your Heart, GoVeggie, Daiya, Kite Hill, to name a few (MOM's Organic Market has a great selection to explore).

“Health-wise, I regularly suggest experimenting with ditching dairy for seven days. If you don't notice clearer skin, reduced bloating and inflammation, and higher energy levels, then you can think about adding it back in. Your own nutritional journey is a lifelong trial and error process, so this is just one suggestion to experiment with and see if it helps you feel better." — Mark Donohue

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