Monday, September 27, 2010

Cabbage - it's just not for sauerkraut anymore!

Cabbage has a reputation as an overbearing and pungent vegetable. We all know it from sauerkraut or traditional coleslaws. But this cruciferous vegetable is actually a very versatile ingredient containing nutritional strength.

* Recent studies have shown that people who regularly eat cruciferous vegetables have a much lower risk of several types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, prostate, bladder, colorectal and lung cancer.
* One cup of raw, shredded savoy cabbage provides 60 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin K, is loaded with vitamin C, phytonutrients and fiber.
* Raw, shredded napa cabbage offers plenty of vitamin C, plus some vitamin A and calcium.
* When steamed or lightly boiled, a cup of napa cabbage delivers 12 percent of your RDA of folate, as well as a healthy mix of manganese, vitamins A and C, copper, and iron.
* The strong flavor of cabbage comes from its glucosinolates, which contain sulfur and nitrogen. Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates are phytochemicals in cabbage that help ward off cancer. By signaling the genes to increase production of certain enzymes, cabbage’s phytonutrients also help optimize the body’s detoxifying abilities.
* Raw cabbage juice has been shown to be effective in treating peptic ulcers.

A Fun Recipe:

Apple Cabbage Coleslaw With Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Makes six servings Apples and braised cabbage is the classic flavor pairing that inspired this salad. Traditional mayonnaise is replaced with poppy seed vinaigrette, which adds a great contrast of color and flavor. Full-fat yogurt is also a great substitute for mayo-based coleslaws.

Vinaigrette 1/2 tsp. minced garlic 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar 1 tbs. honey 2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard 3/4 cup olive oil 1 tbs. poppy seeds

Salad 3 cups shredded savoy cabbage 1 cup julienned carrots 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 2 thinly sliced gala apples

For the vinaigrette: Combine the garlic, vinegar, honey and mustard in a blender. While the blender is running, slowly drizzle in the oil to create a creamy vinaigrette. Stir in poppy seeds by hand.

For the salad: In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, onion and apples. Pour dressing over and mix well.

A Tip from The Bootcamp Express - Adapted information from Cary Neff.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zucchini Bread Recipe (Regular and Gluten-Free)


2 eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups grated fresh zucchini

2/3 cup melted unsalted butter

2 teaspoons baking soda

Pinch salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, a third at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

2 Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 loaves.

Zucchini Muffins - Gluten-Free


1-1/2 pounds zucchini squash

1 medium-sized onion, grated

4 eggs, separated

1 cup potato starch salt and white pepper to taste


Peel zucchini, then grate on the course side of a grater. Beat the egg yolks. Add the beaten egg yolks and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix to blend.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the stiffly beaten egg whites and potato starch into the yolk mixture. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 50 minutes. Yields 18. 

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your Fitness Partner says "Get A Fitness Partner"

Come every New Years Eve we create our own personal list of resolutions stating the ways we intend to improve ourselves in the coming year. The most popular of these resolutions is the declaration of weight loss through better nutrition and exercise. Problem is the days pass and we let one reason or distraction after another stop us from following through with the promise we made to ourselves. The fact is getting motivated requires both mental incentive and deliberate action. The benefits alone will provide huge mental incentives including the promise of higher energy levels, improved health and youthful vigor. Making exercise fun and keeping it simple keeps the desire to participate high and rewarding yourself when you reach certain milestones give you something to work for. And by all means do not beat yourself up if you fall from the cart...just brush yourself off and refocus on your mental incentives.

An action plan can ensure that you achieve your goal by setting realistic expectations and facilitating success. One surefire way to get you moving is to enlist an exercise buddy that you can rely on since you won't want to let them down by not showing up and besides, you will have more fun with someone else there. Look for a convenient gym or community center near home or work so you won't be tempted to skip and check out different activities to keep it interesting. For example, you could attend a gym a couple times a week and rollerblade or play tennis on the other days, weather permitting. And by all means mark your exercise days on a calendar since you are more likely to follow through with routines that are scheduled into your life.

A Tip From The Bootcamp Express.

Your Fitness Partner says: "Don't Forget the Garlic!"

Garlic has long been considered one of the most valuable and revered herbs in history. From warding off evil to curing ailments, it has been coveted by an eclectic mix of cultural and religious groups dating as far back as the Egyptian periods before Christ and has expanded as a staple in cooking in regions across the world. Garlic is loaded with nutritional value most notably vitamins B6 and C, manganese and other minerals, and can improve the health of the heart and the circulatory system as well as kill bacteria and destroy fungus. Its benefits are endless. In fact, it is said that because Louis Pasteur deemed garlic an effective germicide, it was used during WW1 to treat and prevent infection in wounds.

So what is it about garlic that makes it so effective? There are two sulfurous compounds in garlic each possessing their own benefits. Allicin, which has both antibiotic and antifungal properties, has the most powerful medicinal value and is produced when garlic is finely minced or crushed but degrades quickly especially when cooked or microwaved. For best results it should be added to food just after it is cooked. Less powerful and volatile than allicin are diallyl sulfides which are also released when garlic is finely chopped or crushed but stand up better to cooking. Diallyl sulfides are attributed to a strong cardiovascular system, lowering "bad" cholesterol, and boosting the immune system. To reap the benefits of this compound, garlic must be eaten more often throughout the day since it breaks down quickly within the body.

A tip from The Bootcamp Express.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Your Skin and Exercise

The skin care industry today is thriving with the development of products designed to solve all manner of skin maladies offering so many effective choices. But one beauty treatment requires little cash layout and benefits several different aspects of your being and that is exercise. Exercise improves circulation and increases blood flow which delivers nutrients and oxygen to your skin, increases collagen production, and reduces wrinkles. When you sweat, your pores open up and allow toxins to be released. The result is a glowing complexion that reflects a sense of health and well being.

Along with strengthening muscle and burning fat, exercise also reduces stress by stimulating the adrenal glands producing fewer testosterone hormones resulting in a decrease in stress-related acne. Your more youthful appearance is not just limited to your face. Even the skin on your body will be more supple and smooth. Not only does the exercise make you feel better, it makes you look better and you are sure to receive lots of compliments! So whatever exercise you choose to engage in, make sure it is brisk and increases your heart rate for at least twenty minutes and be sure to hydrate properly. You will soon reap the all the benefits of exercise!

A Tip from The Bootcamp Express.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Motivates?

After a lengthy conversation with a client yesterday, I was left wondering "what motivates?" We are all so different and an individual's society, surroundings or life circumstances are forever changing.

My Mother always said the only things we have to coerce or inspire motivation are fear and guilt. A perfectly natural thought process from someone who suffered from the influence of both Catholic and Jewish religions under one roof throughout her childhood. I'm a bit more positive reinforcement than that. That being said I still am unable to put my finger on one or two simple concepts the way she has.

In evaluating clients that have come to me over the years, our first meeting is comprised of "why" questions. "Why do you want to lose the weight?" "Why did you gain the weight?" "Why is now the right time to dive into such a substantial life change?" The answers are always varied and as individual as the person across the table from me. Through this line of questioning, I hope to extract that one thing that will motivate progress and change for the months or possibly years it may take for that person to attain the results desired.

As a personal trainer and weight loss "motivator" I have always taken a stance of empathy. I can empathize with everyone that walks in the door. I was not always perfectly fit. In fact I have been obese at times in my first 30 years on this planet. Following a close family member's death when I was 6 years old, I started on a path of depression binge eating and starvation diets that would last until I hired a personal trainer in my early thirties. An unhappy marriage was my motivation. I didn't want to leave fat and wonder whether anyone would ever want to date or be with me again. I believed that if I was thin, I could at least date and possibly even fall in love again.

But the big question for me is do I motivate my clients or does true motivation strictly come from inside each of them? Is it enough to be pleasant, a good companion through the journey and a good representation of healthy living OR will being boastful about my athletic endeavors and my superior form build an envy that motivates? I've seen both methods exhibited by trainers. I know which I subscribe to, but what do you think? Today I ask: What motivates you?

Shannon Helfrich
The Bootcamp Express

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportion among Americans making up about 90% of all diabetes cases. While genetics has some effect, Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and raises blood sugar levels, is primarily linked to family history, obesity and lack of exercise. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and used by cells to process glucose into energy, therefore when a person becomes insulin resistant they are unable to efficiently convert food to energy and the pancreas cannot keep up with production. The health risks associated with Type 2 diabetes, most common in adults over forty, are heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, poor circulation, kidney failure, poor foot condition and blindness. Diabetes is determined by measuring blood glucose levels for higher than normal amounts which can be labeled pre-diabetes or diabetes depending on just how high the levels are.

The good news is that if a person is found to be pre-diabetic, they can prevent the full onset by losing just five to seven percent of their weight through an exercise regimen of at least 30 minutes a day combined with a low-calorie low-fat diet. A federally funded study shows that medication can be avoided or reduced in most cases when a healthier lifestyle is adopted. Recent studies are being conducted to determine if caffeine can also aid in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. It is important to watch for signs of Type 2 diabetes such as increased thirst, hunger, and urination especially at night, fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision, and sores that do not heal. It is suggested that adults over forty five be tested especially if they are overweight and a thorough history should be taken by a doctor to determine level of predisposition for Type 2 diabetes.

A Tip from The Bootcamp Express.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Important Meal of the Day

Research has proven unequivocally that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast provides energy, prevents binge eating, and improves cognitive function throughout the day. Considering the average person has not eaten since dinner, by the time they wake up in the morning their body has been in fasting mode for about twelve hours. Basically, metabolism has slowed to near nothing and it takes breakfast.."break - fast" jump start the metabolism again. When you skip breakfast the body goes into starvation mode, blood sugar levels rise, and glucose is stored as fat. A good breakfast consists of a balance of lean protein like eggs, lean meats, beans or low fat dairy and healthy carbohydrates rich in fiber like fruit, vegetables, whole grain cereals or breads, and oatmeal.

The studies conducted show that breakfast eaters have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and are at lower risk for obesity. This is likely attributed to the metabolism-boosting effects along with the fact that eating breakfast prevents hunger-induced binge eating common among those who skip and reach for unhealthy snacks an hour or two after arriving at work or school. Because the body lacks energy when breakfast is skipped the brain is also starved due to the imbalance in insulin levels making it difficult to concentrate. This has led researchers to conclude that children and adults who eat breakfast are more successful in work and school and those who have lost weight are more successful at maintaining long term.

A Tip from The Bootcamp Express

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Shin - Core Connection (Bill Hartman, PT, CSCS)

The Shin - Core Connection (Bill Hartman, PT, CSCS)

"Shin splints" - the chronic irritation of tissues in the front of the lower leg that can affect your workouts and make you want to stop running.

Typical causes include training on hard surfaces, running uphill or downhill, and have weak dorsiflexors (the muscles that pull the toes upward). Overtraining, having tight calves, and wearing old shoes tend to make matters worse.

Along with the normal physical therapists prescribed calf stretching, toe lifts and towel toe curls - also roll those calf muscles (SMR), IT band and hamstrings.

BUT...Bill Hartman and other physical therapists are also attributing this chronic condition to poorly conditioned runners with weak, stiff hips, weak gluteus maximus muscles, and weak core musculature.

Two beneficial exercises to help strengthen these areas include: Side Bridges or Side Plank - hold for 30 seconds then lower and raise hip 3 times for 10 to 12 reps. Do this three times on each side.

Next, perform Glute Bridges or Pelvic Bridges (Lifts). Rise and hold for a count of 5, lower and repeat 10 to 12 times. Do this three times.

You can alternate these two exercises - Side, Back Bridge, Side until you complete them all! Try doing these every other day along with the other stretching.

A Tip from The Bootcamp Express.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Bootcamp Express: The Origins of Pilates

The Bootcamp Express: The Origins of Pilates: "During World War I, a German named Joseph Pilates was interned in England where he worked as an orderly in a hospital that tended to injured..."

The Origins of Pilates

During World War I, a German named Joseph Pilates was interned in England where he worked as an orderly in a hospital that tended to injured war veterans. While he was there, he created a series of spring-controlled apparatus designed to help bed-ridden hospital patients engage in light resistance exercise. His method of exercise became known as "contrology" because it involved using the mind to control and focus on core muscles in the body as exercises were performed. He created "The Pilates Principle" which utilized a series of 34 exercises to strengthen, stretch and stabilize key muscles through proper alignment, centering, breathing, concentration, control, and precision with flowing movements.

Over time Joe developed more apparatus to add to his repertoire of specialized Pilates machines.

Joe brought Pilates to the United States when he moved to New York City in 1926 with his wife Clara and opened the first studio near the New York City Ballet. It became quite popular with the dancers since they could build long lean muscles with a strong core to support their movements. By the early 1960s Pilates had gained popularity outside New York City with many of Joe's students becoming teachers and opening their own studios, adding their own variations using the original principles.

In the 1970s Pilates became fashionable among Hollywood celebrities when former student Ron Fletcher opened his LA studio introducing innovations to Pilates inspired by his years as a Martha Graham dancer. By the 1990s Pilates was no longer limited to the elite taking on huge popularity among the mainstream along with yoga and Tai chi. Joseph Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 87.

Shannon Helfrich (Vice-President, Co-Founder) & Annette Kaptur (President, Co-Founder) at The Bootcamp Express are Peak Pilates Certified Instructors, both for MAT and Reformer. Both integrate Pilates Core Foundations in their Workouts!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Join us for the Monster Dash

Annette will be running the 1/2 Marathon - but choose your race! Dress up, have fun and Dominate Your Workout! Annette will be training at The Bootcamp Express, 1515 W. Berwyn Ave., Chicago, IL - M, W, & F. The forest preserves of Willow Springs will serve the other days.

Monster Dash: October, 31, 2010

Welcome to Chicago's Monster Dash -- a great combination of Halloween fun with a fantastic run!

The Monster Dash is a Half Marathon and 5K race on October 31st complete with a costume contest, great running gear for participants, a beautiful course starting and finishing in Grant Park, and of course -- trick or treating! This event is for everyone in your family and is sure to put you in a festive mood for your spooktacular holiday. Do it once and you'll find you and your friends and family will want to make the Monster Dash a Halloween tradition each year!

Register now for the Monster Dash Half or 5K!

Monster Half Marathon: Start Time 8:00 a.m.

You're invited to come in costume for the 13.1 miles along a tree-lined and park-lined route, with views of Soldier Field and the Chicago skyline. Participants get a 1/2 zip running hoodie (men and women's cuts-- women's have thumb holes!), plus your medal is a great gnarly Harley-style belt buckle (see photo upper right)!

Monster Dash 5K: Start Time approximately 8:45 a.m.

This three mile run is a favorite among costumed runners! Our water stops also double as trick-or-treat stops for the kids! Adults get a unisex long-sleeved running shirt and kids get a electroluminesence (EL) short-sleeved tshirt. YUP! It lights up! See the Gear.

Go to: and sign up today! Let's have some fun before the snow falls!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why They Did It!

The Bootcamp Express is the brain child of 2 female trainers, Annette Kaptur and Shannon Helfrich. Both had extensive corporate backgrounds, Annette in finance and Shannon in sales and marketing. Each chose to leave the corporate grind for their passion and met working for a large, publicly traded fitness center in the suburbs of Chicago. The thing that struck them the most was that the facility they worked in was beautiful and offered every amenity but lacked in helping people attain their goals. Both members and employees were seen as numbers, not people. “We thought we could do it better by scaling back on the fluff and developing what really matters; considering the needs and desires of the individual.” Ms. Helfrich explains, “We wanted to create a positive, happy, goal oriented workout nirvana where both client and trainer benefit from a well defined plan.”

Opening a new gym in this economic climate could be considered risky however the ladies are certain that the value proposition for clients and the incentivized work environment for employees will help to build a quick following. “We are coming from a good place and truly love what we do. The Andersonville neighborhood has a fantastic chamber of commerce and an amazing neighborhood dynamic.” says Ms. Helfrich.

The Bootcamp Express opened its doors on July 12, 2010. A Grand Opening will take place on site at 1515 W. Berwyn in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago the week of September 13. The events of the week will include fundraising classes for local charities, specialty demonstrations from the TBE personal trainers and climax on Saturday with a neighborhood open house. For further details please call the studio at 773-293-7103 or email .

Friday, July 23, 2010


A fitness assessment is a key component to your success when exercising. In fact, I myself find it necessary if you are a beginner or have not followed an exercise program for longer than 3 months. The purpose of an assessment is not only to see where your current fitness level is, but also to chart your progress as you continue to advance in your regimen.

These assessments should be repeated every 12 weeks to see if you're progressing in your goals. Whether or not you are following a specific program from a trainer or fitness group, it is still very beneficial to hire a trainer for a one-time assessment every 12 weeks or 4 times a year. After all, checking your weight is only one of many categories when it comes to gauging your success.

Always ask your trainer for a copy of your updated assessment. Keep this copy on your refrigerator door so you'll always have a reminder of where you started, where you are, and where you're heading. Valuable categories for an assessment are: Body Composition, Body Mass Index and Waist to Hip Ratio, Resting Heart Rate and Target Heart Range, Flexibility Test, etc.

One final note, it usually works best to have the same trainer perform your fitness assessment updates for at least one calendar year at a time. Though it’s not a given rule to do so, keep in mind that every trainer has different measurement parameters they follow to complete an assessment. A consistent comparison will provide the most accurate results to help you grow and progress.

Antonio Velez, CPT
a.k.a. Coach Tino
Professional Fitness Specialist

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Bootcamp Express: Is there really a "best" time to workout?

The Bootcamp Express: Is there really a "best" time to workout?

Is there really a "best" time to workout?

Is there really a "best" time to workout? Well different times of day have their own advantages but I have always pushed my clients to make a trip to the gym #1 on the checklist of their day. I can give you 5 good reasons why!

A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT: Once your workout is completed you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. It’s done! You can find a million other things you “have to” do by the end of your workday. Now your evening schedule is clear to meet friends for happy hour, play with your children or take Fido to the doggie park!

BETTER EATING HABITS THROUGHOUT THE DAY: If you make the effort to get up and kick your butt in the morning, you’re gonna think twice about cramming those peanut m & m’s in your pie hole at 3 pm. Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand and you know that you’ll ruin your early morning efforts by eating an empty calorie item.

METABOLISM BOOST: Waking up early, eating a small protein and carbohydrate dish (yogurt and fruit or peanut butter on banana) coupled with a workout is the number one thing you can do to start up your metabolism. Like an automobile, you first need to be sure you have gas in the tank and then turn it on. A good rev down the highway as opposed to a stop and go city commute will do wonders for your engine over time! The same is true for your body. Feed it, let it cut loose a little and then by the time you sit down at your desk for the day your metabolism is humming, allowing you to effectively burn calories you intake throughout the day.

HEIGHTENED ENERGY: While you may not be leaping out of your bed to get to the gym in the morning before work, you will be skipping out of the club after a good workout. Exercise is so much more effective than coffee! Coffee may be for closers but when they crash you’ll be one leading the charge at the office. Your high is endorphin induced and will last throughout the day with an effective high protein, fruit and vegetable diet.

SLEEP LIKE THE DEAD: So if you skip the coffee all day, eat well and had an early morning workout, your body will be ready to rest at a reasonable hour. The quality of sleep you experience is far better because your body is repairing itself after all of the hard work you exerted both in your workout and through your amplified metabolism throughout the day. Pour diet choices such as sugar and caffeine can delay the sleep cycle and if you never started your engine with a healthy workout, a slow metabolism isn’t going to burn them off.

1. Pack your bag the night before. You won’t want to unpack the bag in the morning to get ready at home.
2. Have a morning breakfast routine. Know before you go to bed what you will be eating and where it is in the pantry or fridge.
3. If you have children to get off to school, switch off gym days with your spouse and make Saturday “date day” to workout together. You should both be living healthy and can work as a team to keep the family working as a well oiled machine.

Join our fun team of Chicago Personal Trainers for an energizing workout today.

Live Healthy & Dominate Your Workout!
Shannon Helfrich
V.P/Co-Founder of The Bootcamp Express

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome to The Bootcamp Express

The concept behind The Bootcamp Express is that everyone needs help with their workout routine whether you want to admit it or not. The 3 main reasons you need help:

1. Avoid injury

2. Effectiveness

3. Efficiency

#1 is the most important. If you injure yourself, you are not coming back to workout for a while or ever!

The real truth is that most people do not have the money to spend on a monthly gym membership and hourly personal training sessions. And if you do, you are committed to just one trainer working on their schedule. At The Bootcamp Express, we will offer classes up to 12 hours a day with an amazing variety of the most talented trainers in Chicago. Each one brings a unique awareness to physical enhancement and fitness. All this with no monthly membership fees and training hours are a fraction of the cost of individual personal training.

Visit our website for all of the details and look for helpful information here regarding exercise and nutrition for successful weight loss. We want to help you with your goals!