Salvation Studio (2917 Magazine St.; 896-2200; www.salvationstudio.com) offers an opportunity to break a sweat in a rooftop health sanctuary tucked alongside bustling Magazine Street. Owner and personal trainer Rusty Roussel is a firm believer in using fitness as a tool to improve not only physical appearance but also quality of life.
"I believe in training for life," Roussel says. "That means functional training, not necessarily training for a gym body."
The inspiration for his sensible fitness philosophy was one of Roussel's first clients, a 62-year-old woman. "She called me, and we talked about why she wanted to train," he says. "She wanted to play with her future grandchildren, so it had nothing to do with how she looked or felt. She knew that she wanted an active role in their lives."
He now encourages clients to not only focus on the present but also prepare their bodies for the next 10 to 15 years. "The older I've gotten, the more I realize how important it is to stay fit," Roussel says.
He recommends a regimen of lunges and squats to condition your body while preparing for the future. These exercises draw on everyday movements that require balance and coordination, "such as picking a fork off the kitchen floor," he says. They also target multiple muscle groups, toning the legs while strengthening the core. You can increase intensity of the workout by adding weight, such as holding dumbells in your hands or holding a bar on your shoulders. It's important to make sure you feel the burn in your muscles and not your joints, he says.
When attempting the static lunge (which Roussel demonstrates here) posture is key because the movements activate all the muscle groups in the lower body. After taking one step forward, the front foot should be kept flat on the ground while you balance on the toes of the back foot, and the front knee should be positioned directly over the ankle.
Keeping your feet in the same position and your torso straight, move your rear knee toward the floor. Neither knee should exceed a 90-degree angle while performing the exercise.
When setting up a traditional squat, your feet should be positioned slightly wider than your shoulders. "The key is to imagine that there is an invisible chair positioned behind you," Roussel says. Keep your upper body straight and bend your knees as your slowly swing your hips back as if your are sitting in a chair. "Knees should bend in the same outward direction that your toes are pointed in," he says. At the lowest point, your knees should be positioned at a 90-degree angle and should not go further forward than your toes.
Roussel recommends two to three sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise. If you are working with weights, decrease repetitions.