Fitness Fun in the Sun

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Summer time is here! Life can get hectic over the summer. Routines change, kids are out of school, you have endless plans since the weather is nice and you want to be outside with family and friends. You think you have all this free time and before you know it, it’s September. Here are some tips for sticking to your fitness goals and getting friends and family to join in.

  1. Workout in the AM. This is important for a few reasons. First of all, summer is hot. Getting your workout done early allows you to avoid the hottest part of the day. Also, as the day goes on, there are always things that come up and it’s easy to push that workout to tomorrow. Maybe your co-workers want to enjoy the nice weather and hit a happy hour at an outside bar, or your kids want to stay at the pool all afternoon. Getting your workout finished early on in the day gives you energy and saves you from that “missing a workout” guilt.
  2. A Quick Mix. Quick workouts can pack a great punch! Get a group of friends together and do a playground or even back yard workout. Get your family excited and involved by creating an obstacle course. Have different exercises at each station and run through the course 2 or 3 times. All you need is 20-30 minutes to get an efficient and effective workout. Add a sprinkler for some extra summer fun!
  3. Get in the Water. There are many fun ways to enjoy the water and be active. I got to try stand up paddle boarding a few weeks ago in California and loved it! It’s a great activity to do with friends or family. Work your arms, core and legs while you enjoy being outside and on the water. If you have a pool, get a game of pool volley ball or basketball going.
  4. Don’t Act your Age. We love playing SPUD with my nieces and nephews. It is always so much fun! Want a game to play with an older crowd? Try whiffle ball or kick ball. Running the bases and competing against each other is sure to bring some fun and laughs. Throw in 5/10 reps of an exercise at each base and it’s a great workout and game for any age! It always tasks us a few minutes to get up and motivated to play, but once we do, it’s a blast!

As with any time of year, you need to make sure you make your fitness goals a priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make things fun or include your friends and family. Just be a little creative and you can enjoy the summer while staying active!


Katie Kozloff-Banks, Wyomissing, is the owner of Katie K Active. 

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Berks County Living. Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to Berks County Living »

How Men & Women Exercise Differently

How Men & Women Exercise Differently

BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

Men and women are different in many ways. But do we also have an opposed approach to working out? Although I can find many exceptions, I find the following generalities to be pretty true. Men and women seem to approach fitness and their healthy lifestyle in different ways:

  • The Why: I think both sexes are interested in the physical benefits of working out. But it does seem that men are far more interested in building muscle and strength. Where a woman may start out on a new healthy routine in order to look better in front of the mirror or fit into her clothes, but ends up enjoying seeing her strength and abilities increase.

  • The Ask: Women are more likely to seek advice and are more likely to hire a trainer. They tend to be easily coachable and are willing to listen to the advice of these experts. Men seem to naturally feel more comfortable in a gym or workout scenario. They may occasionally seek advice, but are less coachable.The

  • What: It seems any gym class is made up of nearly 100 percent women. Women enjoy the social aspect an exercise class provides. While you occasionally find men in a class, they seem to be more interested in getting a workout done outside of the studio. I think the exception to this is spin and crossfit. For gyms like crossfit, I think it is fun for both sexes because of the camaraderie of a group that helps support and push you.

  • How Much: Men seem to get in longer workouts and spend more time at the gym. But that doesn’t mean they are any more intense or effective. Women feel more pressed for time, but they find ways to make working out a priority.

  • Variety: Men tend to stick to a few standard routines: running, weight lifting and crossfit-type classes. Women are usually more open to trying new classes or workouts. It seems women want a variety of ways to exercise, where men are happy with their routines.

Overall, we can both learn from the opposite sex. Often, men tend to push themselves harder and will grab that heavier weight or see if they can do one more rep. Although I know plenty of competitive women, I can see this being pretty true as a general statement. Men can teach women to push themselves and work harder than the think they can. On the other hand, women seem to really enjoy fitness and make it a social experience. Women seem to be more willing to diversify their workout and their routine, such as by taking a weekly spin class, yoga class, boot camp and TRX. Therefore, women teach men working out can be fun and to expand their exercise horizons.

This article appears in the June 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Healthy Family Time

We all learn through example. Being active and healthy is a life-long habit. Participating in healthy activities as a family will teach youth that being healthy and active can be fun and enjoyable. Whether you are just getting your family to start being active or it’s a regular part of your routine, here are some tips for creating healthy habits:

  1. Get walking. Walking or hiking are great ways to spend time together as a family. A few minutes in and you are talking to each other and are free from technology. I love taking walks with my husband through Wyomissing Meadows. We end up talking about everything and anything. And between the fresh air and the discussion, we always come to a new outlook. We use it as a time to connect and go over whatever is on our mind. Going for a walk is a great opportunity for you to connect with your family, discuss anything and get moving together, all at once!
  2. Make it a game. I recently saw a post on Facebook about a mother making her workout into a game for her children. I thought this was so smart. She was able to get her workout in and by including them; they were learning the benefits of being active. You can set up a circuit and run from each spot. For example, set up 5 “stops” and do something different at each location: 15 squats, 10 pushups, 30 jumping jacks, 15 tricep dips and a plank with twists (get creative; there are so many options). You can have your kids do each of these or come up with different things they can do at each spot. Do the circuit a few times and you get in a good workout with your kids and make it super fun for everyone.
  3. Find a family class. Nowadays, many gyms offer kids or family workouts. This is a great way to show your children what you do when you talk about going to the gym. They get to try out the activities and see what it’s all about. Being active becomes fun if it is enjoyable, so finding a class that your child likes is key.
  4. Cook a meal together. Health isn’t only about being active. Making good food choices and setting up healthy eating habits is something we all need to learn. Pick a new healthy recipe to make as a family. Go to the store, find all the ingredients and cook together. This is a fun way to incorporate everyone into the process.
  5. Make it a family effort. I know that when one of us falls off the healthy wagon, it’s hard for the other to stay focused. On those days when I don’t want to workout but my husband does, I will get an extra boost to exercise from his motivation. It’s the same with healthy eating. Most of the time, we both want to cook or eat healthy. But when one isn’t feeling it, it’s important for the other to motivate the other to stay on track. We all learn through example, so setting a good example for your family is important. Inspiration and motivation can come and go, but not for everyone at the same time. And sometimes knowing you have to be the driving force will give you an extra boost to push others when you know they are relying on you.

Looking back, I feel we were pretty active as a family, in addition to the organized sports I was involved in. We all learned to play tennis and would play against each other on vacations. There were intense games of whiffle ball with our cousins. The neighborhood kids would always get together to play football, SPUD or Kick the Can. As we got older we played a lot of basketball, especially at family get-togethers. It was always so fun to run around and play with everyone. Having everyone participate bonded us and made a positive association with being active. Even to this day, when fitness is fun, it doesn’t feel like work!


BY KATIE KOZLOFF-BANKS

This article appears in the May 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Get Fit and Environmentally-Conscious

Many of us don’t realize the great advantages nature provides us. We are so accustomed to using products or machines in our daily lives that we forget sometimes that simple is great! This can be true in all aspects of our lives, even with fitness and health goals. Here are some ways you can be healthy and active, without creating a huge carbon footprint.

  • Get outside. Go for a hike, walk, run or bike ride. Fresh air can alleviate stress and increase happiness. Getting outside will help reenergize you and make you feel great. I know that going for a walk or run helps me clear my head. I love the way I feel after taking in some nature.
  • Hit up a playground for circuit training. A playground has all the equipment you need – and it’s free – so use it! You can do pull-ups on the monkey bars. Use a bench for dips or step-ups. Put your feet in a swing and work your abs with a simple plank or make it harder by bringing your knees to your chest while in plank position. Have fun and do the rings without touching your feet to the ground. The options are endless! Be creative and you can turn any area into a great spot for a tough workout.
  • Travel by bike or foot. Biking or walking to work is a great way to incorporate some extra exercise into your life. It’s also a good way to give yourself time to prepare for the day ahead and to end your day and reflect as well. You will have time to think, listen to music or an inspirational book. But mostly, it gives you important time with yourself.
  • Outdoor Boot Camp. There are a lot of fitness instructors who run their own outdoor boot camp classes. This is a fun way to be outside but get in a workout. Do it with friends or meet new people.
  • Participate in local races. Many cities and towns have runs. I think there are seasons here where it feels like there is a race every weekend. Participate in these to help raise money for charity. Almost every run store coordinates its own weekly running group. Join in and meet people, push yourself and develop your skill.
  • Join a local team. I loved playing in adult sports leagues. It was great getting my workout in without it ever feeling like it was a workout. It was a fun way to be a part of a team and fulfill that competitive desire.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Berks County Living

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The Get Inspired! Project – Katie Kozloff-Banks

Toni Reece: Hi there. This is Toni Reece, and welcome to the Get Inspired! Project for Berks County Living magazine. Today I have Katie Kozloff-Banks with me. Hi, Katie.

Katie Kozloff-Banks: Hi. How are you?

Toni: I’m great! How are you doing today?

Katie: Good.

Toni: Good. So, Katie, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Katie: I have the activewear line called Katie K Active. We are an inclusive brand of premium activewear. What that means is we are activewear that spans the size range, small to 3X.

Toni: Okay. Where do we find you?

Katie: You can find us online at katiekactive.com and around in different stores across the country.

Toni: Great. Thank you for showing up for the Get Inspired! Project.

Katie: Yes, thanks for having me.

Toni: Let’s go into the Project. What does inspiration mean to you?

Katie: I was thinking about this. There’s so many different ways to think about inspiration – people that motivate me or make me think differently about my life and want to do more. I think my family inspires me, my friends inspire me with what they’re doing, and all around you everywhere.

Toni: So when you feel inspired, you’re motivated.

Katie: Yes, very much so.

Toni: What does that feel like?

Katie: It’s kind of a rush. I love looking at different things that will inspire me. I think if you go through phases and you start to think, “I need some inspiration,” I’ll just start looking around and take into account what my friends or family are doing. I start thinking, “Wow! They’re doing all this with their life. I want to do some more.” Then I buckle down again.

Toni: Okay, so when you might be in a slump you’ll look around and say, “Okay, I like that. That’s pretty cool. Now I’m moved to action.” Right?

Katie: Yes. I think even when you’re feeling inspired and motivated, it just kind of snowballs. I think when you try to take a look back and see, “Oh my gosh, what have I accomplished?” that just pushes you. It’s all good to have that level.

Toni: I like when you said that inspiration feels like a rush.

Katie: Yes.

Toni: That’s a cool feeling, you know?

Katie: Yes.

Toni: Is that that “pit in your stomach” feeling?

Katie: Yes.

Toni: Yes. Where it’s like, “Ooh! There it was!”

Katie: Yes, exactly.

Toni: I get it. So when you get that, how do you put that into practice here in Berks County?

Katie: To get inspired, I was going through maybe like a slump, and I felt like I wanted to take advantage of the different pieces that Berks County has to offer that could inspire me. I joined the Lean In group through …

Toni: Women to Women?

Katie: Yes. Women to Women. I’m part of the Incubator. I think that really helps. I just started to network with different people. Being a woman, I’ve tried to connect with women who I find inspiring, and then I’ve met with them for lunch or breakfast just to hear their story and talk to them. I think connecting and networking with people, everybody is inspiring in their own way.

Toni: They are. A couple things I just want to touch on that you had mentioned is that you knew you were in a slump, and you needed to feel that rush. By joining different networking groups and talking to people, you felt reenergized?

Katie: Yes, very much so. I think you go through a slump and maybe you need a little direction. I found mentoring groups through GRYP (Greater Reading Young Professionals). The Lean In circle was awesome. It’s been cool.

Toni: Then once you became reenergized again, what did you do? How did you put that inspiration into practice?

Katie: I go home and I make a list of everything; kind of brain dump and start working backwards and thinking, “Okay, this is everything I want to do. How am I going to make it happen? How am I going to break it down into different pieces?”

Then I start figuring it out, whatever that goal is or thing that’s now got me inspired and, “Now I want to do this.” I break it down and figure out how I’m going to attack that.

Toni: Do you have a specific example that was just recent?

Katie: I think probably the big one was I felt I needed to have a mentor and advisor group. It took some time, but that’s what brought me to the Incubator, and that has been so helpful. Working and meeting with different people in Berks County who said, “You should go check out the Incubator.” They are helping me do the goal setting, so that’s accomplished that goal where I felt very much like I needed some kind of guidance, and now I feel like I have plenty of people. I have this great network of people that depending on what business issue or life problem is, I have a specific person for each piece, which is awesome.

Toni: Oh wow – so now you can get a rush from several people!

Katie: Yes. If I’m feeling down about manufacturing, I have this. I think it’s also great to compartmentalize it, but then I can say, “This is where I need help,” and go to that person.

Toni: This is an interesting way to look at getting inspired. It helps you with your business knowing how you get inspired. You took that action, went out and networked, so that you can purposefully be inspired.

Katie: Yes.

Toni: I love that.

Katie: Yes.

Toni: Who in Berks County inspires you?

Katie: I feel like there are so many people. The people that I have met with recently are Steve Fritz through GRYP mentoring. He’s been very inspiring to me. Julia Kline – I met with her, and she’s very inspiring. Sally Weaver I’ve met with. All these people, and then there’s people now at the Incubator like June. She’s been really inspiring and helpful. I think it’s just having people who can advise me. My husband – he’s doing his third Iron Man in three years.

Toni: Wow – oh my gosh!

Katie: Inspiring and crazy. I think even just friends. I think when you start talking to your different friends and you see what everybody is doing; everybody is busy, but everybody is doing really great things. I think that’s cool. For as busy as everybody is, they’re all doing really neat, cool things with their lives. I think that’s always inspiring, talking to people.

Toni: Is that your common denominator on people who inspire you in Berks County? People who are doing really cool things?

Katie: Yes. It’s cool things, but they’re not just say sitting and letting life live them. They’re living life, not just letting it go by. That’s inspiring to me – somebody who wants to do something, whatever that means – being the best mom or being the best person on a board or something like that. I think it’s great to see when people are doing something with their life.

Toni: Yes. So what do you want your legacy to be?

Katie: I think with the activewear, I’d really like to have the inclusiveness. Right now, so much of the clothing industry is very divided between plus size and straight size. It doesn’t really seem to make sense. I think everybody wants to fit in and be trendy and fashion-forward regardless of whether it’s activewear or regular clothing. I think we’re a unique brand with our inclusive end of everything, that we offer everything in each size and each style.

I think that’s our legacy, is giving women the confidence to be who they are. For us, that means giving women the confidence to live a healthy, active, life, and that they should have access to feel the best about themselves and live a healthy, active life regardless of their size.

Toni: Wow – what a legacy for your company to leave for women! That’s fantastic. Katie, thank you so much for showing up to the Get Inspired! Project. Best of luck to you.

Katie: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Toni: Take care.

This article appears in the March 2015 issue of Berks County Living

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Tips for Stress-Free Travel by Katie

I travel a decent amount for work. Sometimes it’s to cities I’m very familiar with and comfortable in and other times I’m taken to a totally new place. Traveling can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some of my tips to take make traveling hassle free and enjoyable:

  1. airbnb.I have recently fallen in love with airbnb. I attend a trade show in Utah and the hotels book up quickly and are very expensive. Last year, we decided to try airbnb instead of getting a hotel room and I was pleasantly surprised. I rented the basement of a woman’s house that was converted into a full apartment. There was a living room, kitchen, full bathroom and two bedrooms. Since there were two of us on this trip, it was great for each of us to have our own room and space to decompress after a long trade show day. It was half the price of the hotel room, but offered so much more. We even had access to a washer and dryer! Staying in a house made the trip seem much more relaxing and comfortable. We are doing the same for the trade show this month.
  2. Priceline. I love a good deal. I use Priceline to book hotels in areas I’m familiar with or when I don’t feel comfortable using airbnb. I think of airbnb for longer trips, not when I just need to stay over one night in a place like NYC. I feel pretty comfortable with the different neighborhoods in NYC and know that all I need in NYC is a place to sleep that I can trust. I always bid for my own price and offer very low. Usually, I end up with a cool, fun hotel for a great price.
  3. Uber. I’ve started to use Uber when I’m traveling in cities that I don’t know well. Through an app on your phone, the service allows you to hail a cab, private car of participate in a rideshare. Last year, I was in Seattle for the Miss Plus USA competition and had no clue how to get around the area. I didn’t know if cabs were easy to hail and where I should go for one. So I used Uber. My friend made me sign up when I was visiting her in Chicago in case I ever had trouble, and it came in handy in Seattle. The best part is that the app just adapted to my location and I could use it in a different city. I felt like I had a safe and easy way to get around no matter where I was.
  4. Loyalty Programs. I’m really trying to be better about being loyal to one brand. It makes so much sense to work toward something; I love feeling that I’m getting something in return for choosing them. I think I see this most with airlines and hotel chains. Sometimes it doesn’t work out to only fly one airline or stay in a certain hotel. But in the long run, the miles and points add up and they will reward you with upgrades, discounts and other perks.
  5. Public Transportation. My sister and brother-in-law taught me the subway system in NYC when I stayed with them for a summer. And I love that I know it and feel comfortable using it. In the last few years, my Chicago friends have had me taking the bus or L to meet them. I love using public transportation in big cities! Not only do you feel like you’re not a tourist, you save money too. I love that I can navigate a city using their great public transportation services and not feel like all I’m doing is spending money to get places. Now most major cities have apps to help you get around, making it even easier.
  6. Yelp. I always find it hard to know where to eat when you’re traveling in a new city. Recently, I’ve been really in to using yelp to find a particular style food near to me. It also has great reviews and info on restaurants. This was really helpful on our trip to Utah; we even found a food blogger and started following her suggestions. There’s more than just food recommendations on Yelp. Maybe you need a manicure before a meeting or you want to book a massage after your stressful day. You can find in-depth information on almost any service.
  7. Talk to locals. To really get the best information, it’s great if you can get input from someone who is a local. This could be someone you met on the flight or in a restaurant. Most locals will have a suggestion for a certain type of food you want or service you’re looking for. For the most part, people seem to be happy to help and suggest great spots to check out when you visit their city. Plus they usually know the best kept secrets!

I love traveling and checking out new cities. It’s fun to enjoy local hot spots and get to know what makes each city great.

Follow Katie K Active’s board Active Living Tips from Katie! on Pinterest.

Katie K Active Active Living Posts via Berks County Living

Katie K Active Active Living Posts via Berks County Living


This article appears in the February 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Getting Married in 2015? Get Katie’s Tips for More Bliss!

I think everyone reflects on their wedding and thinks of tips to pass on to the next friend who will be getting married. My wedding was only two years ago and it was great! I had a blast and tried my best to live in the moment. Here are my tips and what I learned:

Katies Wedding Day
  1. Split up thank you notes. I don’t think this is the job of the bride only. Gifts are for both the bride and groom, and will be used together in their future life. We decided to split our thank you notes so that Todd wrote to his family and friends and I wrote to mine. I think it makes things more personal when it’s coming from the person you know. And it also brings the groom in to make him feel part of everything.
  2. Plan your photos. I am a pretty laid back person, but when it came to our photos, I knew I had to be prepared. I created a list of all the photos I wanted so we could make sure we got everything. Between all the variations of the family, bridal party and bride/groom shots, there’s a lot to keep track of! I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I googled “wedding must-have photos” and used that as a starting point and modified where I wanted.
  3. Don’t add stress. The photographer mentioned traveling to different locations to get some great shots. I knew we would have been able to get some amazing shots, but I also knew this would really stress me out. Even if we kept it to bride and groom shots, it made me nervous to be traveling around town, hoping to get back to the reception site on time. Although I sometimes wish we had done this, I was also so happy to have some down time with my bridal party and family before everything got crazy. In my mind, I avoided unnecessary stress and anxiety, and that made the day calm.
  4. Make sure you join the celebration. Although you will be concerned with talking to every guest, thanking them for attending, it is also important to enjoy your day. Everyone wants to talk to you, but if what you want is to dance with your friends and new husband, you should make sure you have time for that too! Todd and I had a “let loose” deadline of when we were going to just join the celebration and have fun. We tried our best to talk to everyone, but we also wanted to enjoy the celebration and have fun with everyone who was there.
  5. Don’t be a bridezilla. I know it’s “Your Day” (technically your husband’s too) but don’t go crazy with requests of your bridal party and family. They are all there and excited to support you, but when requests start to border on ridiculous, they will start to resent you! The last thing you want is an angry bridal party smiling through clenched teeth counting down the minutes until the day is over! Yes, you want your day to be perfect, but this event is about more than one day; it’s about your marriage. You and your partner are committing your love for each other and celebrating your decision to be united for the rest of your life in front of all your friends and family. That is really what your wedding day is all about!

No matter what, enjoy the journey! Everyone seems to have an opinion about everything when it comes to a wedding. People will tell you what they did or what they wanted to change, and why their way is right. Their way was right because it was what THEY wanted! It might not be right for you for a variety of reasons, and that’s fine. You want a DJ but they say a band is better? You want a sit down dinner but so-and-so said their buffet idea was better. Do what YOU want because it’s your wedding! Everyone is working with his or her own budgets and preferences. Each couple has different desires and wants different things. Your guests are there to celebrate your union and you will have fun no matter what! All the guests want is to see the bride and groom having a great time. Seeing everyone dancing and enjoying each other makes for a great wedding celebration!

Celebrating #ShopSmall — My Best of Berks

As a local business owner, I constantly think about how I can support other local businesses. I have a few favorites that I definitely use to help me personally, and for my company. 

  1. Chamber of Commerce – Women2Women: I have enjoyed being a member of Women2Women. The organization hosts monthly events that I’ve participated in, which have been great for personal and career development. I also participated in their Lean In circle. Through it, I not only met a great group of women, but I learned and thought about things I never would have before. It was an experience that has proven to be invaluable.
  2. Jump Start Incubator – I wrote a BCL article (now on my blog) about why I think the incubator is fabulous! It’s a great place for anyone looking to take his or her business idea to the next level. Through mentorship, guidance and getting a built-in team, it’s a great way to launch your business idea.
  3. Jersey Ink – I have been using Jersey Ink for about three years now. I met the mother and daughter team, Sue and Christina, through a friend of mine. They have been a wonderful help to my business. I use them for promotional products, but love their willingness to work with me on anything. They put up with me when I give short deadlines. Jersey Ink has also been able to design items from concept to product. I love their excitement and desire to work with local businesses. They want to make sure I get the best product at a great price that meets my needs.
  4. Bell Tower – I have loved the Bell Tower boutique for years. But the reason I love it goes beyond the clothing they offer. Samara and Dara are great stylists! I have visited before different meetings, not knowing what to wear or how to put myself together. They’ve helped select the perfect outfit, so I could feel confident and ready to rock my meeting. Samara and Dara know and understand my style and always choose great items. They have helped me create a wardrobe so that I can just grab and go. I’m prepared for any event. I never have to think about what I’m going to wear, because I know I’m going to feel confident and look great!
  5. A Running Start – I was introduced to A Running Start a few years ago when I moved back to Reading. Sorita, the owner, has a friendly and knowledgeable team ready to help. I visited looking to find running shoes and they were very thorough, which I really appreciated since I was dealing with bunion issues. Now that I’ve had surgery, they’ve been equally as helpful getting me back in to the swing of things. I found a pair of running shoes that helped me not hate running! Their friendly staff, weekly runs and sponsored events definitely bring the community together to live healthy, active lives!
  6. Corpsfitness – Along the line of fitness, I’ve loved having a place like Corpsfitness at my disposal. Chris Kaag has developed a great workout program and provides a great experience, all the while developing a sense of community. I know that when I go to a class, I’m greeted by smiling faces, all welcoming, even though we are about to be put through a tough workout! There’s a social piece to Corpsfitness that I’ve really enjoyed. Everyone is there to work out together, but also to connect. It’s a great place for when I need to release some stress.
  7. Café Bold – I work from home or the incubator for the most part, but sometimes I need something different. I love stopping in at Café Bold for a change of scenery. It’s a lovely place to meet with people and with off street parking in the back, it’s super easy. They have great food, so I definitely don’t mind scheduling a lunch meeting there.

With these places in mind, take a few minutes to reflect on those local businesses that help with your everyday. Consider sharing your favorites and frequenting them over the holiday season with friends and family. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of small business and local organizations and the hardworking people that are keeping them going.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Berks County Living

Giving the Gift of Fitness is Okay

If someone (my husband or parent) gave me a fitness related gift, it may make me second-guess his or her intention. I’d wonder: Are they saying I’m overweight? Do they want me to be more active? If so, why?

Then I take a minute and think about it. Is his or her intention to mean, or are they trying to support me? Have I been talking about trying out new classes or workout routines? Have I shared my desires to become more fit and active, and to shed some weight? Was I complaining about my workout gear not fitting well or being old, dingy and stretched out? Maybe they’re actually trying to do something nice for me. Could they be supporting my health and fitness goals by helping me achieve them?

fitness giftI think this is a common thought process when it comes to fitness related gifts – and a big reason why people shy away from it. A husband could get his wife a treadmill after hearing her complain about how she doesn’t enjoy running in the cold weather and the snow. She gets the gift and thinks, “Does my husband think I’m fat?” Really, he was trying to give her a thoughtful gift so she could continue enjoying her workouts, even in bad weather. He knows how much she enjoys being active and that being healthy and fit is important to her. It shouldn’t be thought of as a negative, rather, a positive. He was supporting her desire to be active and healthy.

To that end, here are some great fitness gift ideas as we near the holiday season:

  1. Gym Membership – A traditional gym gives access to multiple activities: a weight training area, a cardio area and one or two studios. You can do a little bit of everything all under one roof. It is a great gift for someone just getting started or someone looking to try something new. I know I love spin class, but I like to try other classes like Zumba, too. I enjoy strength training, but sometimes it’s fun to take a total body conditioning class to switch things up.
  2. Punch Card – In additional to the tradition gyms, there are a variety of “studio gyms.” These usually come with a higher monthly fee, but also offer punch cards to participate in classes as you wish. Pilates and yoga studios are like this, as are many cross fit-type gyms. A punch card is a great gift for someone who enjoys these activities or wants to try them out. They can participate when they want or try something new without committing to a monthly fee.
  3. Personal Training – Since having a personal trainer is definitely more of a splurge, this can be a great gift. Getting a trainer is a great way to kick-start any fitness goal with the help of a professional. He or she can give you nutritional input as well. Maybe a loved one has been complaining that he or she feels stuck or in a rut, or that they don’t know what they’re doing. A trainer will help teach him or her new fitness ideas and work with them to accomplish their goal.
  4. Equipment – depending on who you’re buying for, there are a ton of equipment options that make great gifts. Maybe the person you’re buying for has been talking about a treadmill or stationary bike. Or he or she has a few free weights but would really like to create a workout space in their house. Free weights, kettle bells, bosu, a stability ball and/or a bench would all be great additions to any home gym.
  5. New Workout Clothes – A new item or outfit creates excitement! Everyone wants to use their new clothes and when it’s activewear, that means a little extra motivation to get that workout in. A new workout can even create inspiration to start that fitness goal or give a push to keep going. Having the right gear for an activity helps to be able to accomplish a goal. It’s amazing how an outfit can change your outlook and get you excited to be active.

I understand giving a fitness-related gift can be tricky. But giving the gift of fitness is truly a wonderful gesture. You’re saying, “I support your goals and I want to help you achieve them.” Just be tactful with your delivery. If you’re worried about the recipient’s reaction, you can remind him or her how they’ve been talking about wanting the equipment or to try out that new gym or class. See, you were paying attention.

This article appears in the November 2014 issue of Berks County Living.

Active at Any Age

My mother is truly an inspiration, especially when it comes to keeping active as she gets older. For as long as I can remember, she played in a tennis group once a week. When I was in high school, she and her friends would power walk every morning after dropping us off at the bus. In the past few years, she’s only cranked it up.

She now plays tennis four days a week, and even occasionally picks up a fifth day!

Being active has helped my mom be independent, strong and capable. She’s been known to rearrange the furniture in her house for family events all by herself. She never shies away from heavy lifting and labor, helping anyone who needs it. She even takes my nephew (now 15) and niece (now 11) for six weeks every summer. She bikes with them, swims and generally runs around and keeps up with them! I can see how her active life helps her in her everyday life.

Being active is important at any age, but especially as we get older. Staying active will not only help you maintain your independence, but will keep your heart and mind healthy. There’s strong evidence that proves that people who are more active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. If you don’t stay active, daily life can become harder and you may struggle with everyday activities.

Benefits of being active as you age:

  • Increase Hearth Strength with Aerobics. You’ll have more energy to do the things you like to do. It can increase your quality of sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
  • Strength Strain to Prevent Muscle Loss. It will help keep bones strong and protect your knees and other joints, too.
  • Maintain Independence and Flexibility with Stretching. Daily tasks like tying your shoes or reaching a shelf will become easier. When you are flexible, you have a more natural walking pattern, which decreases your chance of falling. Most flexibility is lost through inactivity or lack of movement, not age.
  • Balance Exercises Benefit Posture. You will improve coordination and also reduce your risk for falls by practicing balance exercises. A simple one is standing on one leg for 10 seconds (using a chair for support if needed).

The list of activities to choose from is endless. Yoga is a great way to work on posture, balance and flexibility. Weight training reduces muscle loss while strengthening your muscles and bones. Running, walking or biking keeps your heart healthy. It’s never too late to start getting active.

While some activity is better than none at all, the goal to get the maximum health benefit is to aim to for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week. At least two days a week your activity should include something that strengthens muscles and bones. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle as you age will keep you strong to accomplish daily tasks so you can remain independent. The most important thing is to find something you like, so being active is just a part of your life.

This article also appears in the October 2014 issue of Berks County Living

 

Why I Joined the Jump Start Incubator

I just recently learned about the business incubators springing up in big cities around the country. This concept has actually been around for years, and I had no idea that one exists here in Reading! I met with Jump Start Incubator in the fall and was invited to apply and was accepted in January. Here’s why I think every start-up business should spend some time in a business incubator:

Katie Kozloff of Katie K Active at Jump Start Incubator

Katie Kozloff of Katie K Active at Jump Start Incubator

  1. Mentors. I am a big believer in mentors. They have encountered things in their careers and lives that have imparted valuable lessons that can only be learned through experience. Having them share their knowledge and life lessons is not only interesting, but a great way to learn. I’ve learned how to handle certain situations and look at issues differently as well as get new ideas.
  2. Community Connections. Through the incubator, I’ve had the opportunity to be introduced to and to connect with individuals in our community that may be able to provide help and insight into my business. I’ve also been introduced to local companies that provide services that may help grow my business. When I have expressed an issue that I’m facing, the incubator’s staff has been able to introduce me to local businesses or people in the community who have the expertise in those areas that I’m struggling in. I have talked with people in positions at companies that I would not have had the opportunity to meet with at this point in my career. It’s amazing to be able to meet with successful people who are willing to help me.
  3. Finance. As a member of the Incubator, I have the opportunity to work closely with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They have someone there to answer any accounting questions I may have, to make sure I know how to use QuickBooks, and to help me make sure my business is financially healthy. They can help when you are ready to talk to the bank about a loan or when you’re looking to take on investors. Overall, it’s great to have a group of financial experts at your fingertips.
  4. Expanded Team. I’m not sure about all incubators, but the Berks Jump Start Incubator has employees and interns. Immediately, my team was expanded without me having to actually hire anyone. I’ve used the Incubator’s staff for a variety of tasks such as creating marketing pieces, compiling targeted media lists and researching industry topics. As a small business owner, I wear many hats, and it’s great when there is help to complete all the tasks that need to be done so I can feel less overwhelmed and actually get to everything I want to and need to accomplish to keep growing my business.
  5. Goal Setting/Accountability. As with anything, planning and staying focused is important. As a member of the Incubator, I have signed on to be a part of their program for two years. At the end of the two years I graduate, but I am responsible for deciding what that means. I must create my two-year goal for what I want to get out of the Incubator, what I want to accomplish and where I want to be. This is the point at which I “graduate” and would consider the program a success. I must lie out my goals, break them down into smaller goals, and create deadlines in order to figure out how to complete my overall larger goals. I meet with Ray Melcher to measure where I am and to discuss how it’s going and to make sure I stay on track. Being accountable to someone more than myself as well as having some input on how to accomplish my goals has been a great way to stay focused on the big picture while working on the steps to get there.

For more info on the Jump Start Incubator, visit jumpstartberks.org.

Being Fit and Healthy Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

With the invention of the Internet, we have easy access to information now more than ever before. There are tons of websites offering up free tips, workout plans and advice on how to be fit, active and healthy.

Being-Fit-and-Healthy-Doesnt-Have-to-be-Expensive Katie K Active

Many bloggers make a living inspiring, motivating and educating people on the latest fitness trends and gear. However, with all this knowledge, you must be cautious in deciding who to trust and believe. Some individuals are paid to promote products and others don’t have the education or certifications to instruct others.

Don’t want to commit to a gym or monthly fee? Create a home gym. This does not mean you have to remodel a room in your house, but you can be creative. Invest in a few key exercise accessories like a jump rope, kettle bells, free weights and bands. On busy days when I still want to get a workout in, I use our porch. I will pull up a chair for step exercises, as well as for incorporating body weight exercises like dips.

There are a lot people on various social media outlets who want to motivate and inspire you. I follow a few bloggers who post workout tips, recipes and insights into how they live their healthy lifestyle. I get a lot of my home workouts from them and always love when I find new healthy meals to cook up.

YouTube is a great resource for learning how to do exercises. If I’m unsure about an exercise, I’ll look it up and watch it in action. I may view a few videos until I really understand what I’m supposed to do. If I think it’s a little too advanced or I may get hurt, I replace the exercise with something else. Searching for an “alternative exercise” is also great way to learn new ways to work out a particular muscle group.

But if you’re like a lot of people, you need to be in the gym to be motivated. Just being around other people who are working out can give you that extra push you need. I’ll see a girl lifting an impressive weight and it makes me push myself harder and up my workout. Boot camp classes and Couch to 5K programs challenge you mentally and physically. You develop a sense of camaraderie with the other members and look forward to being healthy and active together. Plus a little competition can help you push yourself harder. Being healthy and active with others not only keeps you motivated and focused, but it’s fun too.

Belonging to different gyms for different classes can become expensive. A lot of places have punch cards or allow you to drop in for the classes you want to take. Most places offer a free trial or class so you can try it out before committing to anything long-term. If you’re dying to join a gym but it seems expensive, take a look at your daily spending. Things add up quickly and maybe you can trade one habit in to pay for this one, instead. Think about how much you spend on that coffee every day or by eating lunch out instead of packing. No matter what your goals are, you have to find out what you like to do and what you will stick with.

 

This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Berks County Living