New Year's Resolution: Exercise More!
Design Expert: Ramona Braganza
I knew when Ramona and I began talking that she is THE personal trainer of 2010. Afterall, she developed her well reputed 321 Baby Bulge Be Gone training method as she was getting Halle Berry and Jessica Alba in shape post-baby. But, I was overwhelmed by Ramona's sincere passion for what she loves-- Fitness. We talked about her career, her perspective on fitness, and her many practical ideas on making space for fitness all year long.
Ramona's career may seem well thought out, but it actually began by chance. "I had always been active in gymnastics and dance, competing in fitness contests and professional cheerleading for the NFL. Then, I was approached by a friend to teach gymnastics to an actress on his show, Dark Angel." Her first client, Jessica Alba, was seventeen at the time and Ramona is still her personal trainer today. "I've seen her grow up into a beautiful young woman who is an outstanding new mom and wife."
Ramona and Jessica after a workout session.
Other clients on Ramona's roster include Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale. With the A-List of movie star clients come a few challenges, too. Ramona found over the years that movie sets are quite ill-equipped when it comes to space to train. But her reaction is what I love about Ramona-- she decided to build a mobile fitness facility and take it with her. No excuses, people! It's one of the most unique fitness-on-the-go approaches I've seen especially because it's in a 48' semi truck. As she designed what she calls Mobile Physique, Ramona's two main goals were to create both an inviting environment that would encourage her clients to work hard and a practical solution that would allow her to train them well. She has also offered design solutions to her clients in their homes for exercise rooms. You may be surprised to hear where some of our favorite stars are working out!
Ramona's philosophy when it comes to a workout space is interesting. "Remember that a workout is like any other experience. It's enhanced when you engage all your senses. So, consider all of it. Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and even Taste can motivate you to workout more!"
"The entrance to Mobile Physique is at the back of the structure so I put in a large sliding door with privacy curtains to allow us to bring in natural light and block out unwanted vistas and visitors." According to Ramona, it's always best if you can work in some natural source of light. "My client Michael Weatherly worked out for some time in his backyard and eventually decided to build a small gym in that spot. The view of the city kept him inspired and focused."
If building a gym around your favorite view is not an option, there's still hope, says Ramona. "When I was called by Ashlee Simpson-Wentz to help get her back in shape post baby, I designed her gym in a small space that was once a storage room! Imagine it-- a room with no windows!" Ramona suggested adding mirrorsto one wall to visually expand the space because "it completely changes the room's aesthetic and functionally, it's great for checking form in front of the weight bench." Other clients of hers have also carved out unlikely spaces for their intense sessions with Ramona. So, when space is tight remember the stars! Clients Eliza Duschku and Jamie King, for example, use half of their two-car garage as a gym that fits in all the critical equipment needed for them to look as fabulous as they do.
Another key consideration for the sense of sight is artificial lighting. From a color and design standpoint, we know from countless designers that lighting is critical for beauty and safety. Ramona summed it up well by saying "It's challenging to be upbeat, energetic, and feel good in a poorly lit space and an exercise room is no different!" For Mobile Physique, Ramona incorporated dimmable recessed incandescent lighting to set that tone of comfort and sophistication.
The dropped maple ceiling is highlighted by the recessed incandescent lighting.
When it comes to color, Ramona's advice is simple and personal. "I chose to keep the walls fairly neutral to accommodate the varying tastes of my clients, but when designing your gym at home, choose the colors that give you energy or relax you depending on your preference." A few colors that can add oomph to your exercise space:
"Also remember to add inspirational photos, quotes, or artwork into the space so it becomes a space you want to be in. I've even found it motivating to have a dress or jeans on display that are the "goal" for working out."
Being not only a former professional cheerleader, but also a choreographer, Ramona has always been driven by music during a workout session. She encourages us to "Play music whenever you can." In the front half of Mobile Physique, Ramona has an integrated Audio Visual plan with a large screen television to watch sporting events and a sound system surrounding the area used for cardio, stretching, Pilate's, yoga, Ball and Bosu exercises.
"Whether you use earbuds, an ipod dock, or a full out speaker system, music is a great distraction and can add a lot of fun to any routine. These days it's easy to create great playlists that are catered to your activity and genre preferences. Or if you're looking for something new, check out the playlists that many fitness magazines and websites are creating." A few workout playlists to try are Shape, Fitness Magazine, and IntheGym.net.
Another important element in your workout is to block out sound. To minimize sound that takes away from your focus, set your phone to vibrate (or turn it off!), close the door, or get outside. In the room's design itself, Ramona suggests putting in a rubber mat or wall to wall rubber floors as she did in part of Mobile Physique to absorb the noise from weights. Alternatively, to reflect sound in her cardio and stretching area, Ramona chose wood for the floors, cabinets, and even soffits on the ceiling.
Though many of us don't think to associate scent to our home gym, Ramona says it's important. "Try adding a scent that compliments the colors on your walls and keep the space light and fresh. For example, if you choose a green for your walls, go with a scent that is similar to fresh cut flowers or grass. Orange can pair nicely with a refreshing citrus scent. Or if you choose blue, try a fresh mist or ocean inspired scent." The point is that scent, good or bad, should not be overpowering in a gym. "To keep air circulating well, make sure you have good heating and air conditioning in place, too."
Everything about working out can be related to the sense of touch. A good workout is closely linked to all the materials you come into contact with. Do weights allow proper grip? Does the equipment offer ergonomic handling? When it comes to equipment, Ramona suggests that each of us "decide what kind of investment you want to make. Start small and build from there."
Start Here: "At a minimum, begin with some free weights and a bench. If you're not ready for a bench, you can use a Stability Ball, instead. If you can work in a pull-up bar that fits in a doorway, all the better."
Step Up:"Cardio equipment is important, but can vary. You can get a great cardio workout using a jump rope, stairs, jogging outdoors or even jogging in place. If you want to purchase a machine, go with a treadmill, bike, or elliptical machine."
The Splurge: "If you have both the space and budget, consider a functional trainer. They use pulleys, cables, and a weight stack for resistance. I use this often with my clients for a diverse workout."
The sense of touch can extend to your workout wardrobe and how you feel in your clothes. Ramona suggests that you "start off wearing more comfortable, loose fitting clothing. As you see results, wear more form fitting clothes to keep you motivated."
"No matter what workout you choose, you will be exhausted and need to stay healthy and hydrated. Keep a stack of soft towels close by on a small console or shelf. It's a necessary accessory that can add a punch of color, too. Also, make sure to take care of your body and your taste buds with healthy snacks like fruits and nuts and plenty of water in the room itself."
"I've always believed in the importance of making exercise a lifestyle rather than a fad fix. At the age of 47, I've never taken a lot of time away from training because I feel healthier and happier when I'm in shape. The important thing if you're just starting out is to take it slow and steady. Make gradual changes that work in your lifestyle and don't make it a chore to exercise. If you can create a space in your home that's inviting and find a workout that's fun, effective, and convenient, then you will stick to it. Avoid boredom by rewarding yourself at milestones. Buy yourself new workout clothes, equipment, or even try changing the colors of the walls in your gym. Whatever you do, keeping your workouts fresh and adding variety are the keys to making fitness a way of Life!" If you're like me, you're still stuck at the line where she says she's 47 years old. I'm amazed and if you weren't a believer in the benefits of fitness before, I would imagine you are now. By the way, Ramona's celebrating her birthday this weekend, so I hope you'll all join me in wishing her well! Ramona, I hope you'll celebrate all the gifts you have and have shared with so many people!
"The biggest rewards I have had with my celebrity clients have not been getting them into shape before a movie role, it's the effect I've seen on them once they achieve their fitness goals. I've seen first hand how fitness has elevated their moods, given them new energy, and allowed them to enjoy life as they choose." Thanks toRamona Braganza , my newly appointed fitness guru, I'm now working in a workout space in my home, too. How will you include fitness in your life?