From looking good to staying healthy, fitness has an important role in everyone’s life. However, it can be challenging to get on the right path. Whether you want to get fit, be more active, or build muscle, our fitness expert Judd NeSmith, NASM-CPT, PES, can help. He has the expertise to guide you in selecting the quality fitness products that will help you achieve your goals.
What started as an interest in strength training at the age of 15 developed into a 20-plus year profession for NeSmith, who is the founder of Serious Fitness in Boulder, Colorado. He specializes in conditioning and strength training for people ages 50 and older.
JN: I've been a fitness enthusiast since the age of 15, and I'm passionate about helping people with health and wellness.
I was a successful entrepreneur in network radio in Los Angeles for 12 years and started several companies. But after having some success with the third company, I realized that I didn't enjoy what I did for a living. The money was really good, but it didn't identify with who I was as a person outside of the office. So I decided to take a step back and consider my life goals. I told myself that for the rest of my life, I'm going to create a business model that more accurately explains who I am, and I'm just a fitness professional.
I launched a personal training company in Malibu, California. The year 2000 was my goal for owning a gym. I fell in love with personal training so much that it has followed me to Boulder, Colorado, where I've been since 2003.
My company Serious Fitness has been working with a lot of people, especially those 50-plus, for the last 21 years. And because of the success I had with that business model, I launched an online personal training business model three years ago to help me reach more people worldwide.
It's a very rewarding experience because what I do for a living is what I do outside of work anyway. Trying to explain to somebody how to exercise, develop more lean muscle, lose weight, feel stronger, or minimize pain is just what I do. So to be able to create an income while I explain to somebody my passion for fitness is very rewarding.
JN: My advice for people shopping in today’s e-commerce climate is research, research, research.
If you're 50-plus years old and you're looking for a piece of fitness equipment to help you alleviate lower back pain, there are many fitness experts out there who give an honest opinion on what they believe could help the most.
I have a lot of followers on social media that tend to rely on my advice, and I am regarded as one of the 50-plus fitness experts out there. As a BestReviews fitness expert, my goal is to help people find the right equipment to fit their lifestyle.
My advice is to go to a trusted source like bestreviews.com. They work with experts like myself. In my 20-plus years of working with many people in my gym, I've used just about every piece of exercise equipment out there, and I've put it to a test. That's a great opportunity for consumers. It can help them identify and purchase the right gym or fitness equipment to help them achieve their goals.
JN: In my 20-plus years as a strength and conditioning coach and in my 35-plus years of being a pretty dedicated athlete, I've used just about every piece of fitness equipment you can imagine. I've been able to figure out what works and what doesn't work.
There are a lot of fads on the market right now and a lot of things that are marketed as life-changing pieces of equipment. Often, they just don't work. I've had to filter out a lot of fitness equipment that I don't want to use for myself, nor do I want to use for my clients. So I typically tend to scrutinize a lot of products out there first. I use them myself first, and if they work for me, I will recommend them to my clients and will also recommend them as a fitness expert for BestReviews.
For example, lately, all the rage has been massage guns. They came onto the market about two or three years ago. I questioned their effectiveness in helping people recover from exercise and also minimize aches and pains. I went out and bought one.
I bought the Hyperice Hypervolt massage gun, and I am now convinced that it'll be in my toolbox for training equipment for the rest of my life. I use it myself, and I use it on my clients. It's a high-dollar item, but it is a piece of equipment that has been a game changer in my industry. It's helped my fitness. I'm 54 years old, and I have a lot of aches and pains from being an active adult. But I use it daily, and it's helped me avoid being on the sidelines with injury. And I'm outspoken about its value for a lot of people.
JN: When I launched my fitness company called Serious Fitness, I needed to choose a tagline, and my tagline has been this: Serious Fitness — Fad Free Fitness Since 2003.
My colleagues in the fitness industry and my clients would probably tell you that I am quick to question any fads I see out there. I typically tend to screen every exercise and every piece of exercise equipment and all nutritional supplements that come my way. I'm very skeptical; I've been burned before.
By being the first to jump on the bandwagon by endorsing a piece of gym equipment or a protein bar or a new diet or nutrition regimen, I think that philosophy aligns well with BestReviews. At BestReviews, our goal is to weed out potential products that may not fulfill the expectations of the customer.
Whether it would be a type of dumbbell or a piece of gym equipment that has been marketed to be a game changer in the industry, first we try it ourselves. For example, I test all these products at my gym first, and if they don’t work for me, I'm not going to endorse them and I'm not going to allow BestReviews to endorse them. I believe that's going to help others simplify their personal decisions and identify which products work.
JN: I always recommend, even for beginners, that they need to find time to allocate five days a week for exercise. Those five days a week could be as short as 30 minutes a day.
Now, with that schedule of 30 minutes a day for five days a week, you're looking at 150 minutes, which is not a lot of time. However, I would break it down like this: I recommend allocating two days a week to strength training. Your goal here is to improve your strength. It helps to add lean muscle and help your body get to a point where you can avoid a lot of injuries that are caused by poor posture, stress, and lack of physical activity.
Just as important as improving your strength and lean muscle development is improving your cardiovascular health. I recommend allocating an additional three days for a 30-minute walk — what I call “walking with intention.”
It's not walking to the mailbox or walking your dog. You're gonna leave your house or your office, and you're gonna start your watch over the next 30 minutes at a pretty brisk pace. That alone will provide nominal cardiovascular benefits, help you burn more calories, and help you improve your heart health.
People stop me all the time in hallways and airports asking, “Hey, how do I get in better shape?” It's not rocket science. It isn't. You just got to move your body. Our bodies were designed to move, and unfortunately, we are a very sedentary culture.
JN: You've lived for 30-plus years and your body has now created some muscle imbalances just from life, whether it's long commutes in a car, sitting in an office all day long, or stress. Or maybe you've had some significant injuries as a younger adult by playing sports.
A key component to a fitness program for the 50-plus population is mobility exercises that are designed to quickly improve your flexibility. Let's face it — you're stiff now. So mobility exercises are key to help promote and improve joint integrity. The other thing I recommend is called corrective exercise.
Corrective exercises are somewhat tedious exercises that aren't meant to burn calories or burn fat or put lean muscle on your body that you can see in the mirror. They're the boring stuff that I coach all day long. They're designed to help you improve your posture because it has taken a beating just from life. Our bodies mold to our environments, and corrective exercise, if done consistently during the week, makes dramatic changes to people's posture.
JN: A lot of women have been misled to believe that working out with weights will make them big or bulky. That myth has been disproven over and over again.
For a woman who wants to improve her physique, decrease her waist size, or burn fat, it's going to take more than cardiovascular exercise. It’s going to take a pretty dedicated training routine where they train the body as a whole and they work every major muscle group in their body. It releases a lot of human growth hormone and burns more fat.
A lot of men come to me and ask for my advice on improving their fitness, overall health, well-being, and how to build lean muscle. I highly recommend that they try functional strength training instead of isolating body parts in a workout. For example, a lot of men still will do a chest and back workout on Monday. Then they'll work their biceps and triceps on Tuesday, and they'll work their legs on Wednesday.
It's not the most effective way to build a stronger, leaner physique. I always tell them to quit training like a bodybuilder. Do more full-body exercises in the gym. Use fewer machines and more dumbbells and medicine balls, for example. You'll typically see quicker results.
JN: Their health comes first. I mean, bottom line, it's hard to be the most productive person in the office and it's hard to be a successful parent or partner if you don't take care of your health first. If you're always dealing with aches and pains, or if you're dealing with severe weight gain and you can't exercise anymore, you're not taking care of your health first. You need to find time, four or five days a week to allocate maybe 20 to 30 minutes of just doing some basic exercise.
There are many knowledgeable personal trainers in every city, and I highly recommend contacting one. You don't have to see them all the time. Many of them will spend one or two sessions with you, and they'll write out a weekly exercise program for you based on your exercise goals and based on your time.
For those on a tight budget, in the age of the internet, there are a lot of resources that you can find online. You can just Google an effective 20- or 30-minute workout for a working mom, for example. I've seen a lot of free information out there that's very, very effective and very helpful.
JN: So my favorite must-have is suspension trainers like the TRX brand that I recently reviewed for BestReviews. Suspension trainers are a great training tool for people who only want to use body weight for exercise. They're very versatile. They provide a full-body workout and help a beginner develop strength.
That will allow them to get to a point where they can perform more advanced exercises. For beginners, I also recommend an exercise ball. Both are invaluable training tools.
For advanced fitness enthusiasts, I'm a big fan of kettlebells. Kettlebells are a very functional way to add lean muscle and develop strengths. We use them a lot.
You’ll want to include what we call squat racks or power racks that are all the rage right now. They are training equipment that allows you to do advanced exercises like deadlifts, squats, and lunges.
JN: If you can just promise yourself that you will stay consistent with a four- to five-day-a-week exercise routine for the first four weeks, I bet it'll be hard for you to stop.
After that fourth week, you're going to see some noticeable change in the mirror. If you've been consistent, you'll see perhaps weight loss, lean muscle, and maybe a taller, better posture. And I would be surprised if those results were not enough to want to make you continue with your new habits.
After four weeks of exercise, if you've been following a structured and detailed exercise routine — while using some of the effective fitness and gym equipment reviewed by BestReviews — most likely, you're going to find yourself feeling better and moving better with a lot fewer aches and pains. You're also probably going to like that new person you see in the mirror.
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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.