Fitness Expert Gin Miller helps one reader refocus her routine with a boxing circuit.
Credit: David Martinez

For 2008, we've enlisted the help of Fitness Expert Gin Miller to provide personal coaching services to 11 Cooking Light readers. Each described her current fitness routine and how she hoped to improve it, then Gin mapped out a new program to achieve each reader's goals.

Reader: April Henry, Portland

Her challenge: Lose weight and achieve toned and defined arms

Her story: As a mystery writer, Henry spends much of her day sitting at a computer, but she makes exercise a priority. "I usually run four days a week, use cardio equipment on the remaining three days, and lift weights two to three times per week," she says. "I like to read while doing my cardio; otherwise I become bored. Although I exercise frequently, I'm still having trouble losing unwanted pounds, and I'm not sure if I should be doing more repetitions with lighter weights or fewer repetitions with heavier weights to help achieve the toned look I want in my arms. I've tried both, and I haven't seen results."

Training at a glance:

• Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Boxing circuit
• Tuesday and Thursday: 30 to 45 minutes of high-intensity cardio, like running or biking
• Saturday: Long, steady run (minimum 60 minutes)
• Sunday: Rest

Gin's prescription:

Think outside the box. If, like Henry, you feel you aren't achieving results, try something new. "Henry mentioned she had recently purchased a weighted boxing bag after her daughter showed an interest in learning. Since she already has this piece of equipment in her home, I've designed an easy boxing circuit," Miller says. "Boxing is fun and fast-paced-meaning no room for boredom. It will supply a full-body cardio blast to burn calories, and the swift upper body movements will help achieve definition in Henry's arms." If you don't have a boxing bag or gloves, don't worry; this workout can be done with air punches.

Stay focused. Set aside the reading matter when using cardio equipment. "Henry does steady-state cardio that allows her to read while running," Miller says. "That means she is not elevating her heart rate enough to burn the calories to help with weight control." Miller recommends two high-intensity cardio sessions per week. "If you use a treadmill or elliptical training, set the program to interval training," she says. "Adding intervals-short bursts of speed-will help you burn up to 33 percent more calories and make your workout more engaging."