Health and Fitness

Fitness Q&A with Karen Alexander from the MAC



So how’s everyone doing on their fitness New Year’s resolution? We’re one month in, and hopefully we’re all still on the wagon. Right? Well, if you find yourself slipping (or if you’ve already fallen down the slippery slope of the slothful) you may want to give the pool a chance. After all, it’s low impact, warm, and no matter how much you sweat, you won’t notice it. And for those who think of the pool as that place where you’re either playing Marco Polo or doing laps in a bathing cap,  the MAC‘s top aquatics instructor, Karen Alexander has news for you.

We asked the aquatics guru about her own history in the pool, and how landlubbers like us can reap its benefits as well.

BFB: Tell us a little about yourself and your background. How did you get into fitness? And why aquatics, specifically?   

Karen Alexander: I have been a competitive swimmer all my life (along with a few other sports) and have always had an interest in health and fitness. I graduated from Western Maryland College in 1996 with a major in Exercise Science and Physiology. I came to the MAC 12 years ago and started as an Aquatic Fitness Specialist. After a year or two, I had become certified through ATRI (Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Institute). I have been working as Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Trainer and Aquatic Personal Trainer since 2003. I work with those with orthopedic conditions, athletes, and those who want to cross train for weight loss. Having had numerous orthopedic conditions throughout my life (being a swimmer and with my post college focus), aquatic exercise came naturally to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without aquatics. My passion is helping others achieve their goals strictly through the water and there is no greater feeling than that.

BFB:  We know that aquatics means you’re in the pool, but that’s kind of all we know. What kinds of classes or exercises make up the essential aquatics workout? Why not just swim laps?

KA: There are many forms of aquatic exercise besides swimming laps. This is a wonderful thing because  aquatic exercise does not require you to be a swimmer! There are many people in the world that are very intimidated by the water and have a fear of the water. There are shallow water classes available for those to take that need a less-impact alternative rather than full impact land exercises. Shallow water can be used for aquatic classes or even independent water walking for a great cross train.  Deep water classes involve wearing a buoyancy belt to keep you vertical and afloat. Both depths , shallow and deep, provide you with great core strength (since you are always vertical with proper posture) and you need to use every muscle in your body to move through the water.  With proper instruction, form , and working at a 65-85% effort level, you will receive an amazing cardio and strength resistance workout all in one.

Baltimore Bike Party: Hipsters Vs. Lumberjacks


Jan bike party

Back in November, we lauded the wonders of Baltimore Bike Party.  Bike Party has become the largest group ride on the East Coast since its inception in early 2012.  The final Friday of each month, bikers come out to the Washington Monument to go for a 10 to 15 mile spin around the city with hundreds of their closest friends.  A common theme, beyond bicycles, units them all, and varies month to month.  This Friday, the theme is “Hipsters Vs. Lumberjacks.”  

Baltimore’s Wealth of Doctor Brains



Have you ever thought about just how many doctors there are in Baltimore? They’re everywhere — in the medical schools, in the research institutions, shopping at the grocery store. On the list of the states with the most doctors, Maryland ranks second in the nation (behind Massachusetts), with 281 docs per 100,000 people (nearly twice Mississippi’s rate, 159). It’s a lucky situation we find ourselves in, since the AMA is predicting a crucial physician shortage over the next decade.

Fitness Q&A with Mario Pompa from the MAC




Many of us are starting off 2013 with a resolution to get healthier. For some, that means being more careful about what we eat, for others it means a strict fitness regimen. For anyone hoping to succeed, it’ll likely include both. To help all of us start off on the right track (and stay there!) we’ll be doing a monthly Q&A column with a variety of personal trainers from the MAC. These pros know what it takes to get in shape and stay motivated long after others have fallen off the wagon (or treadmill for that matter).

Mario Pompa is a personal trainer certified by both National Strength Professionals Association and National Academy of Sports Medicine.  His focus is weight loss,  muscle growth, group training, youth training, and sports performance training. He is also a gravity training specialist who says, “Our health always seems much more valuable after we lose it.” Since many of us are just starting out on our fitness resolutions, we thought we’d ask Mario some basics to get started.