Client of the Month Lauren Bonnell

Pinnacle Health + Fitness is proud to introduce our October Client of the Month: Lauren Bonnell

Please share a little about your history and why you joined Pinnacle.

I was very active while growing up. I was on a competition dance team and played softball and tennis. After a few injuries this took a toll on my body. When I would try to work out, I would end up in so much pain that I just stopped working out altogether. When I hit my heaviest weight, 250lbs, I knew I needed to do something to turn it around. I started looking online for a personal trainer and got connected with Pinnacle. I was told about Sally, who was previously a nurse, and thought she would be the perfect person to work with, given my previous sports injuries.

What have you accomplished since you started at Pinnacle?

Since starting at Pinnacle, I have lost 20lbs and several inches. My strength continues to increase everyday and I no longer have the constant pain in my knees and my feet.

How has working with Sally helped you? 

Working with Sally has given me the tools I need to create my own routine at the gym. Until I started at Pinnacle, I had never worked out in a normal gym and I didn’t know where to start with all of the equipment and using proper form.

Sally has been great! She holds me accountable for my own success by asking what I want my next goal to be or creating a workout that I can do on weeks that we are unable to meet. There have been times that I have struggled with getting to the gym regularly, so she will send me a text message of encouragement. I have had a few bumps along the way with injuries outside of the gym; Sally is really good about adjusting our workouts to ensure that I don’t make the injury worse.

What do you hope to accomplish next? 

My next short term goal is to be able to do a pull up. I’ve always had lower body strength, now it’s time to have the upper body strength to go with it.

Stay tuned later in the week when Lauren shares one of her favorite meals that fueled these workouts.

Client of the Month Recipe: Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

In our interview with client of the month, John Stathas noted how adjusting his approach to food was a game-changer. We asked John for one of his favorite recipes and here’s what he delivered.

Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

(Recipe is for two people adjust as needed)

1 tsp minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

¼ cup mayonnnaise

1 tbsp honey

2 tsp fresh lime juice

Salt and ground black pepper

1 cup very thinly sliced white cabbage

1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage

1 green onion thinly sliced (white and tender green parts

1 large egg

2 tsp hot sauce1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup all-purpose flour

8-10 oz catfish (or cod or tilapia) fillets

½ cup vegetable oil

4-5 flour tortillas

  1. In large bowl, combine the chipotle, mayo, honey, lime juice,¼ tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper and mix well. Add both cabbages and the green onion and toss and stir to combine and coat the vegetables well with the chipotle mayo. Set aside.
  2. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg with a splash of water, pinch of salt, and the hot sauce. Pour the panko and flour onto two separate large plates. Pat the fish fillets dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Dredge the fish in the flour and knock off the excess. Dip the fish into the egg to coat it completely and then coat it with panko. Place on a platter as they are breaded.
  4. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat and add vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers and is very hot, place the fish into the pan and brown it on one side for about 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side for about another 3 minutes. Transfer the fish to paper towels to drain.
  5. Pour off the oil in the pan and return the pan to the heat. Dump the slaw mixture into the pan and toss it for about a minute to warm it up. Don’t cook it so long that it completely wilts. You want it to have a little crunch. Return the slaw to the bowl so it doesn’t overlook.
  6. Warm the tortillas. Lay the fish down the center of the tortillas and top it with slaw. Wrap in the sides and enjoy.

The Afterburn Effect

It’s back! “The Afterburn Effect” taught by Hallie Ringhand, Fall 2017 session

Experience one of today’s hottest fitness trends right here at Pinnacle Health and Fitness – heart rate based training! The Afterburn Effect consists of results-producing, stress-reducing, endorphin-enhancing movement that prompts the body to burn fat at an accelerated rate both during as well as long after the workout. You’ll get heart rate-guided cardio & strength training in a small group environment, followed by 30 minutes of lengthening and flexibility training. All levels are welcome!

Hallie Ringhand, long-time Pinnacle instructor and owner of New U, will lead you through this heart-pumping and restorative 8-week session. Space is limited to 15 participants, so sign up today at the front desk!

· Tuesdays, September 26th – November 21st (no class October 31st) 6:30-7:30 pm (Fitchburg club)

· Price $96 for members ($12/class), $120 non-members ($15/class)

· A heart rate monitor is REQUIRED for this session. A Yoga Mat is highly recommended for the stretch portion of class.

Testimonial for Summer 2017 Afterburn session:

“I liked the variety of workouts from week to week. Combining my training with a heart rate monitor gave me a lot of insight into my effort and fitness level. I was encouraged to see a quicker recovery to my resting heart rate as the class progressed. The classes always wore me out, yet I left feeling relaxed.” John

Client of the Month John Stathas’ KB Workout: Single KB Complex Smoker

At Pinnacle we love kettlebells. John really likes kettlebells. We asked our client of the month to share one of his KB workouts. He gave us the Complex Smoker.

Do 4 rounds of the following kettlebell complex per side. No rest between movements; go thru the whole sequence on one side before switching. Rest approx 30 seconds between rounds.

– 5 reps 1 arm KB swing

– 5 reps KB high pull

– 5 reps. KB snatch

– 5 reps. KB front squat

– 5 reps. KB push press

– 5 burpees

If you try John’s KB Complex Smoker, leave a comment below and let us know how it went.

Happy training!

Client of the Month: John Stathas

Meet John Stathas. If you are at Pinnacle (Fitchburg) in the mornings you’ve probably noticed John working out. Early-evening members won’t feel left out – a couple times a week John is back to finish a two-a-day workout! Healthy habits like this are just part of what’s earned John Client of the Month for August.

John has been working out with Hans for over two years. Workouts have evolved, success has been achieved, a friendship has developed, and the best is yet to come.

John, how has your fitness journey developed while at Pinnacle?

I have been working out at least five days a week for the past five years. The workouts have helped me get control of my diabetes and have made me more fit; however, I have struggled with my ultimate goals of weight loss (getting to a healthy weight) and nutrition (better eating habits for life). For several years, I increased the intensity of my workouts hoping to exercise away the weight. While I had small victories, I always ended up putting the weight back on. This resulted in constant frustration and self-loathing. My success lately has been the result of three key components.

You have participated in Fitness Tracker class (FT2) since it began. What has the experience been like?

FT2 provided me with great interval workouts and a better understanding of my fitness level. I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the group classes. I always know that the others are suffering with me and that keeps me going. We share workout, diet and general successes or difficulties we have experienced during the week. This helps me understand what is working for others and I share what is working for me. The incorporation of the heart rate monitor has helped me better understand my level of exertion – when I can work harder and when I should back off a bit. I also find the comparison of results from workouts over the weeks/months very encouraging as it provides a graphic view of my improvement.

Talk about your weekly routine in 2017: 300 kettle bell swings per day!

One of my challenges is to complete 300 kettlebell swings per day. I talked with Hans and he convinced me to work within the principles of exercise training and give the body rest. We agreed that two days rest still gives me five days per week and we call that “300 swings per day.” January through July at 300 per day – do the math, that’s a lot of swings!

How did Team John form?

When I went to the doctor in December, I had gained back much of the weight I had lost a year before. I decided that I was going to commit to make the changes necessary to improve my health and quality of life. I elicited the help of my trainer (Hans Schiefelbein) to talk through what was working and what might need to change to have more success. I have been working with Hans for two years. He not only engaged me in discussing what was working, but also what might be holding me back. Hans listened, provided suggestions and started varying my workouts to try to help me achieve my goals. Hans worked with Hallie Ringhand to coordinate the the nutrition and exercise program necessary to help me see the results that were escaping me. Working with Hans and Hallie, it became clear that my nutrition was the missing piece of the puzzle. I just had to get to the point of committing to make the changes necessary in my diet and workouts to reach my goals. Hallie, Hans, some awesome Pinnacle friends (Lori Cerniglia, and Andrea Lang) and my family formed Team John to support my commitment to my new lifestyle which focused on nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

How do you measure success at Pinnacle?

My scorecard for my progress is measured by weekly weigh-ins for accountability. From my doctor visit in December to last week, I have lost 41 pounds. I can also measure progress via the heart rate monitor used in Fitness Tracker and After Burn classes at Pinnacle (heart rate recovery time after strenuous intervals). The nicest measure of my progress is how great I feel and how well (or poorly) my clothes fit

Come back next week for part 2 of our interview with John.

Protein Powders: How do I buy a safe product? Which one is best?

When choosing a protein powder the choice can be quite difficult.  You see the list of ingredients and get overwhelmed. did the work for you.  They did a comprehensive study of over 675 products and 111 different brands while getting the advice of dietitians and fitness experts.  They considered the concerns of artificial sweeteners, illegal substances and food colorings.

And the winners are:  Click here and find out.


The sports nutrition industry has a history littered with lawsuits, misleading product labels, and hyperbolized products, especially when it comes to protein powder – which is a multi-billion dollar industry. Outrageous branding campaigns have been convincing people they need extra protein to build muscle since the ‘70s, and that perception is still going strong. Sales are up, spiked proteins are rampant, and the war for the best-tasting whey isolate continues.

We spent 180 hours researching the industry to discover what the frenzy was all about. During that time we built a list of 697 different flavors of protein powder, consulted with nationally renowned fitness and health experts, and investigated the nutritional pros and cons of 191 artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and illegal substances.  Continue Reading

Artificial ingredients are useless and can lower your overall health

The general consensus among online fitness and nutrition communities is that the artificial sweeteners and colorings used in protein powders are bad for you. We took our research a step further and asked over 4,000 registered dietitians for their opinions on the matter. Their response was unanimous (and much stronger): If possible, artificial sugars and colorings should be completely avoided. Not only are they unnecessary; they’re potentially dangerous. Continue Reading

Working with a Trainer made a difference

karlbarton5My name is Tracy Roth and I have a success story that I would like to share.  I have been working with Karl Barton for about two months.  In these past two months I have seen drastic changes in my over all mental and physical health.  Words alone cannot express how much Karl has done for me.  I have to say it took me a while to find the right fit.  I have had many experiences with trainers and none have been a success for me.  The first day I started working with Karl I knew it was the right.  What was immediately evident was that Karl really cares about his clients.  It is so easy to feel his passion. Some days I just don’t feel like coming to the gym, but Karl inspires me so much, I don’t want to miss.  Even if I am having a bad day it pays to be coached by him because I know when my workout is done I will feel great.    No matter where you are in your journey you will see results.  Maintaining has been difficult for me. Without Karl’s help it could not have been done.  Karl takes the time to listen to me. He will go above and beyond to listen and he cares what you have to say.  There have even been days where I have felt down and he has taken time out of his day to listen.

In working with Karl I have gained confidence in myself, which never has happened.  I would always tell Karl I can’t do this exercise but he got me to do it.  It has really helped me mentally as well as physically. Every time I leave Pinnacle I feel great about myself.


In two short months I have been able to do boot camps and INSANITY classes, which I was never able to do. I asked Karl to come up with things that he has noticed about my improvement. This is what he had to say:  “Endurance and upper body strength has increased. Your jumping ability both long and standing jumps has really improved. You are now willing to try new things like hand eye coordination and ladder jumps for stability and stamina.”  Without Karl’s help maintaining my weight would not happen.  I have always struggled with weight issues.


He even keeps me dedicated to my workouts when we are not training together.

The staff at Pinnacle is awesome.

Thank you Karl for all your support and help.  I would not be where I am in life if it wasn’t for you.

Free Drugs

“Free Drugs!”
Ahem, now that I’ve got your attention …

We are in the middle of what is proving to be a long, tough and COLD winter It’s feeling like it’s going to last FOREVER.  We’ve done all we can to embrace it, but it’s getting old.  Are you feeling a bit down? Slightly depressed? Crabby? Unmotivated?  Well, I’ve got the drug (actually a chemical) just for you!  It’s FREE! And it’s already in your body!

So, what is it? 

Endorphins.  Yes, we’ve all heard of them. But what are they?  Endorphins are chemicals released in your body that, when locked into certain receptor sites, block the transmission of pain creating a euphoric feeling.  Endorphins act much like opiates.  There are over 20 different kinds of endorphins, one type being beta-endorphins shown to be stronger than morphine.  And, I want to stress once again, this is already produced and manufactured in YOUR OWN BODY! Wow!

So, how do I get me some of those endorphins?  There are several ways to aid your body in releasing this wonder drug/chemical.  Let me outline a few:

1.  Food – Hot or spicy foods create a burning or painful sensation, in which the body reacts by releasing endorphins, causing the pain to be offset by a euphoric feeling.  Sounds strange, but this may explain why spicy foods are so popular and addicting.

Image:Release Endorphins Step 5.jpg

2. Chocolate – No one has to tell me twice that it’s ok to eat chocolate.  Dark chocolate contains chemicals that promote the release of endorphins, promoting a sense of calm or well-being.  One or two small squares per week should suffice, so don’t go overboard. 

Image:Release Endorphins Step 3.jpg

3.  Sex – Yes, I said it.  Often given a low priority, sex is one of nature’s most de-stressing activities around.  It releases endorphins, and also burns calories.  Bonus!

4. Laughter – How awesome do you feel after a good belly laugh?  While laughter also helps reduce blood pressure and stress hormones, it also triggers the release of endorphins. 

 And finally ….

5. EXERCISE! – It’s no secret that physical activity stimulates endorphin production as well.  After working in the fitness industry for over 22 years, I see this played-out first hand every day.  Whether it’s taking a group exercise with friends, keeping the heart healthy on the cardio machines, increasing strength through weight training, or jumping in to the pool for an invigorating swim, I’m witness to endorphins being released everywhere, every day.  There is a direct link between happiness and exercise.  Whatever your workout, you will feel happier and healthier after a doing it.

So take time for yourself this winter and stay healthy and happy. I promise this cold winter will eventually end and Spring will arrive. But in the meantime, think ENDORPHINS, and release what nature has already provided you, from right within your very own body. Contact me for questions or to start an endorphin loaded exercise plan today.




Benefits of Water Exercise in Salt Water Pools

Whether your water workouts have your body horizontal as when you swim or your body vertical as with water fitness workouts like Aqua Boot Camp and Water Running the benefits are many. Before I get to the fitness benefits you should know about the advantages of training in the salt-water pools at Pinnacle.

Working out in a salt-water swimming pool is gentler on your eyes and less drying to your skin, along with having a silkier feel. The pools are naturally chlorinated by the salt-water system.  No more bleached swimsuits, yellow hair and strong chemical odors.

Water is about 800 times denser than air, so it provides about 12 times more resistance.  The moves you do in the pool can work your arms, legs, shoulders, and core. With water workouts you gain flexibility, balance as well as muscle symmetry because you are always work the opposing muscle immediately

Some other benefits:

  • Reduce stress on joints, bones, and muscles because of the buoyancy of water and option of flotation devices for those who can’t exercise comfortably on land
  • Minimizes risk of injury because water provides resistance in multiple directions, which helps build balance and muscle strength
  • Achieve muscle tone faster through the ability to work two opposing muscle groups with each rep by the resistance provided from the water during both the lengthening and shortening of the muscle belly
  • Increase your exercise workload and burn more calories because it takes more muscle energy to push your body through water than through air

Example Strength and Cardio Set:

Split-jump lunges with biceps curls

(Targets: biceps, Triceps, back, hips, glutes, quads)

With an aqua hand paddle in each hand, arms at your sides, step your right foot back into a lunge. Jump up to switch sides and do a biceps curl, keeping arms submerged. (You can alternate arms or curl both arms at the same time.) Continue for 60 seconds.

Athletes with injuries or people recovering from hip or knee replacements will benefit from our warm water pool. The hydrostatic pressure of the warm water decreases joint and soft tissue swelling that can result after injury or with arthritic conditions or disorders. Warm water also relaxes muscles and vasodilates vessels, increasing blood flood to injured areas, helping those with muscle spasms, back pain and fibromyalgia.

My name is Heidi Meyer-Spidell and I am the Aquatics director at Pinnacle. I am a Master Aquatic Trainer certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association, Midwest Aquatic Association, American Council on Exercise and the Arthritis Foundation.

Please click here for offers in our AQUATICS DEPARTMENT  or click here to learn more about me.

MAKE IT COUNT! By: Christi Otto

Everyday you wake up challenge yourself! List three goals you want to accomplish. These should be challenges you can achieve every day. For example: eat less sugar, take the stairs, and increase water intake. Do them!

Tape this to your steering wheel and on your bathroom mirror. You will see them every day. Every week or two make new challenges. Every week or two make new challenges. If you want to take on a weight loss challenge, discover the Thinner Winner at Pinnacle.

You need to be committed! A lot of fitness articles say you can achieve weight loss in 14 to 20 days. It takes more than that. Live in reality and you will not disappoint yourself! It is about inches on your waist, more energy, better sleep, more productivity, etc. Make conscious choices. Only you can change it. You are in control of your life, your health, your destiny. 


For the average person it takes over 60 days to develop a habit. When you are working out and eating better you are developing new habits. According to UCL News it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. The 21 day myth originally applied to plastic surgery patients.

Following plastic surgery it takes about 21 days for the average patient to get used to his new face. When an arm or leg is amputated the “phantom limb” persists for about 21 days”.

On that thought, have you ever logged your foods for 70 days in a row? Have you ever exercised for 70 days in a row? Get up and move!  If you did this, how much closer would you be to your ultimate goal?

I have challenged all of my clients to this. Let me tell you, it was not easy. It is hard. There were many days that quitting seemed easier. Last week I got an e-mail from one client saying: “This is too hard. I don’t think I will be able to lose the weight.” I e-mailed her back telling her she needs to make that effort today! I also sent her a motivational video and several short articles to keep her going. That is what it is all about! It is a constant battle. You need to learn how to combat your battles. SHE DID IT! Sometimes you just need a push. She lost 32lbs in the last four months and she is very proud of her success!

Success happens little by little, day after day. Another client got his wife in on it too. They have changed as a unit. They are closer and enjoy walking and cooking dinner together. It is no longer just about the weight. It is about the bond, the sharing, and the experience. Are you ready to be pushed for a 70 day challenge? Start new habits? Contact me: Christi Otto;

Your goals need to be on the front burner. Start now! It is going to take time. At times it is going to be hard to maintain. I know it can sometimes be embarrassing to be vulnerable but do it and you will amaze yourself.