Living an Active Lifestyle – For Adults with Cerebral Palsy

Living an Active Lifestyle – For Adults with Cerebral Palsy

Living an Active Lifestyle With CP

October 6th is World Cerebral Palsy Day

There is no better time than now to talk about this disorder that affects approximately 764,000 children and adults in the U.S.1

Not only will we fill you in on what it is, we’ll also share some great workout information (like how to calculate your target heart rate for cardio) that individuals who are and who are not affected by CP can apply to their routine.  

What is Cerebral Palsy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Cerebral Palsy as “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”2  There are varying degrees of severity and some variants of the disorder itself. The CDC classifies them in 4 ways: 

A person with Spastic Cerebral Palsy has muscle stiffness which may affect the legs, the legs and arms, one side of the body, or, in severe cases, the whole body. Movement appears rigid and can be labor intensive. 

A person with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy has muscle tone that can fluctuate from being too tight and stiff, to too loose. Muscle movement is difficult to control which can make movements slower or faster than what is typical. 

A person with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy has problems with coordination and balance. Quick or precise movements can be difficult to execute. 

Mixed Cerebral Palsy occurs when a person experiences symptoms that come from more than one type of Cerebral Palsy.

Is it Possible to Both Be Active and Have Cerebral Palsy? 

Physical activity is great for the body, the heart, and the mind. This is something most of us have learned and had ingrained in our memory since childhood. With so many obstacles to free movement, you might wonder how someone with CP can exercise. 

The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) reminds us that the recommended amount of weekly cardio for adults is 150 minutes.3 They go on to say that “there is no evidence to suggest that these requirements should be any different for people with cerebral palsy.”3   

How to Be Active When Living with Cerebral Palsy

The following tips are straight from the Fact Sheet provided by the AACPDM. You can view the full document here.  

Remember that some exercises may not be safe or possible if you are experiencing certain limitations, so be sure to consult your doctor so you understand the right options for you. 

Tip #1: Do Exercises That Build Strength and Endurance 

To build muscle, you’ll need to increase the resistance, or the weight your muscles have to move. To build endurance, you’ll need to increase the repetitions, or the number of times you complete a movement. The AACPDM recommends that you should: 

  • Aim for a maximum of 10 repetitions.  
  • Start with 1 set. With time, as it becomes easier, start to increase your sets. 
  • Take at least 1 day of rest between strength training a single muscle group. 3

Tip #2: Exercise Your Heart 

To exercise your heart, you’ll need to know what your maximum heart rate is and set a goal to exercise at 40 – 85% of that maximum. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. 

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. 3 For example, if you are 20 years old, (220 – 20 = 200), your maximum heart rate is 200.  

Now that you have your maximum, you can calculate the heart rate you should aim for when you do cardio. All you have to do is multiply your maximum heart rate by 40% (0.40) and then do a new calculation and multiply by 85% (0.85) instead. Don’t forget to convert the percentage into a decimal by dividing it by 100.  

For example, if your maximum heart rate is 200, you would do the following calculation: 

200 x 0.40 = 80 beats per minute 

200 x 0.85 = 170 beats per minute 

Now you know that, to effectively exercise your heart, you need to get your heart rate between 80 and 170 beats per minute.  

The AACPDM recommends that you start at a rate of 40% and increase your target rate gradually. 3

Tip #3: Work on Improving Your Range of Motion 

Improving your range of motion simply means that you are improving your flexibility. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to do common daily activities like sitting, reaching, and bending. 

The AACPDM reminds us that yoga and stretching are not the only ways to improve flexibility. Using your full range of motion while doing your strength training exercises is also a way to improve the flexibility of your muscles. 3  

They also talk about how dynamic stretches help improve the muscle’s functionality and strength.3 Dynamic stretches get your body moving and warmed-up, so they are often done before you start working out.4


The Takeaways

Living an active lifestyle is not necessarily exclusive to people of a certain level of ability. Even though Cerebral Palsy affects motor function, exercise is still possible if you respect the limitations in your movement and adhere to the guidance of your doctor.  

However, depending on the exact nature of your condition, physical activity simply may not be for you. If this is the case, don’t lose hope! Talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to still care for your health without doing harm to your body. 

For more ideas on how to move more and sit less, read our post, 6 Ways to Decrease the Time You Spend Sitting. If you’re not looking to lose weight and instead, you’re looking to put on some healthy pounds, listen to our podcast on How to Gain Healthy Weight.

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  1. “Cerebral Palsy Information.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance, 2019, 
  2. “What Is Cerebral Palsy? | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019, 
  3. “Cerebral Palsy Information.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance, The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, 
  4. “The Benefits of Dynamic Stretching and How to Get Started.” Healthline, 

Have You Heard of HIIT by LAF?

Have You Heard of HIIT by LAF?

Short on time but still looking to get a solid workout in? Then it’s time to turn to HIIT by LAF®. If you aren’t sure what HIIT stands for, it’s short for high-intensity interval training – and it’s definitely something you should be adding to your workout routine.

If you’ve never heard of HIIT training, or you’re looking for a group setting to help give you that extra encouragement and push, then HIIT by LAF® is the right thing for you.

What is HIIT by LAF?

HIIT by LAF is a workout that is designed for almost every level of fitness, age, and goal type. These high-tech and high-energy workouts are led by motivating, certified fitness coaches who set the pace and vibe of the room. Each workout is 50-minutes long and comprised of a variety of functional exercises, core training, cardio interval training, and strength training.  Wearing optional heart rate monitors, participants are led through five heart rate training zones, with each zone representing variations in levels of intensity that may result in participants burning up to 1,000 calories per workout, including calories that may burn even after the workout ends (results may vary).

Intense? Yes, but don’t let that word scare you away.

HIIT helps burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and if you manage to stay within the “fat-burning” zone during your workout, it can leave the body burning more calories even after the workout is over. This special “fat-burning” zone varies from individual to individual, so it’s important to know your resting heartrate and your max heartrate in order to gauge your different zones.

Different Zones?

This is where MYZONE comes into play. A heart rate monitor that takes your workout to the next level.

MYZONE uses wireless and cloud technology to accurately and conveniently monitor physical activity. It monitors heart rate, calories and time exercising that converts into MYZONE Effort Points (MEPs*), with a focus on rewarding effort.

Heart rate training zones are a range of values expressed as percentages of maximum heart rate (HR max). The HIIT by LAF workout incorporates 5 heart rate training zones. If you’re interested in signing up for HIIT by LAF® classes on a regular basis, the MYZONE heart rate monitor is available for purchase at an additional cost.

Each zone is identified by zone color, heart rate percentage range, zone description, and the target amount of time that should be maintained in each zone to achieve the greatest benefits of a HIIT workout. Utilizing these zones in relation to the exercise benefits of each one aids in the development of the best programming to maximize endurance, calorie burn, and fat loss.

* MEPs (MYZONE Effort Points) are earned based on the effort exerted by the participant. Time spent in each Heart Rate Zone earns different numbers of MEPS:

  • Grey = 50-59% – Earns 1 MEP/minute
  • Blue = 60-69% – Earns 2 MEPS/minute
  • Green = 70-79% – Earns 3 MEPs/minute
  • Yellow = 80-89% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute
  • Red = 90-100% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute

Who is HIIT for?

HIIT is for anyone and everyone looking to take their fitness to the next level. HIIT is for moms, runners, professionals, athletes, and beginners. For moms, it’s a great escape. For runners, it’s the motivation and methodology necessary to prepare for the next run or race. For professionals, it’s the time-efficient workout when health and well-being are important, but time is tight. For athletes, it is the real-time feedback, ability to track progress and interval training necessary to improve performance. For beginners, it’s the push—the education and encouragement—necessary to reach an entirely new level of fitness.

Is HIIT Safe?

It depends on the underlying condition of the patient/client and their baseline fitness level or physical activity status. HIIT is not for someone with a prior heart condition, who is sedentary and has not gone through proper supervised exercise testing first.

Anyone who has been very active has no cardiac risk factors, and has been screened by his M.D. about his cardiovascular fitness can definitely try HIIT and enjoy the benefits in our time-crunched environment.

The response above provided by Dr. Myla Subbarao, MD, FACC, and volunteer with the American Heart Association.

Check out our Living Healthy podcast episode on HIIT training by clicking here!

If you’re interested in learning more about HIIT by LAF®, visit

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Personal Training: Finding the Right Trainer for You

Personal Training: Finding the Right Trainer for You

Whether committing to new fitness goals or finding new ways of sustaining them, Pro Results® personal training may be the key to unlocking your potential and getting the results you’ve always wanted. Many wellness enthusiasts have no problem with living an active lifestyle. Some can credit their childhood with seeing examples of healthy living or competing in sports during their adolescence.  However, others are not as adept in motivating themselves to work out or eat healthier.  No matter where you fall on this spectrum, everyone can benefit from some expert guidance to improve, motivate, or encourage your fitness journey.

So, if you are ready to make that jump into the uncharted abyss of personal training, here are some key points you may want to include when choosing who can best assist you on ensuring that your goals are met.

1. Identify your personal fitness goals.

This step is vital in getting the most out of your personal training. If you don’t identify what you want to achieve or why you run the risk of investing time and money with someone who isn’t able to effectively guide you toward achieving your fitness goals. In a way, a personal trainer’s assessment is similar to a physician’s approach when you’re feeling under the weather.

A physician recommends appropriate tests or remedies for helping you feel better after assessing how you’re feeling. This comes with the right amount of honest conversation, in order for you to be on your way toward the best version of you. Before consulting with any fitness guru or expert, know your needs first, as they will be an internal guide when gaging if personal training is working for you. Remember, you’re the client and you set the precedence for how your trainer distinguishes a proper plan of action for you.

2. Consulting with a Personal Trainer.

Once you identify what you want to achieve, you’re ready to do a little window-shopping. This part of the process doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. The ball is essentially in your court – you are “hiring” this person to be your guide on your fitness journey. Once a reputable LA Fitness Pro Results® employee assesses your goals, they will partner you up with a trainer whom they feel will best be able to facilitate your fitness concerns. If for some reason the fit doesn’t feel right for you, you can always re-approach the Personal Training Director and ask for an alternative trainer.

Finding out if they are a good match comes down to two essential things: 1) do they fully understand your needs and 2) are you two compatible. LA Fitness has a selection of certified personal trainers for you to choose from.  (*Disclaimer: Each club has a different selection of training staff available. Be sure to check in with the personal training department of your home club to see what is available to you.) No matter how credible or how many years of experience your trainer has under their belt, selecting the right trainer for you comes down to whether you two work well together.

The trainer and client relationship is just that, a relationship. Therefore, enjoying the trainer’s company and his or her approach to fitness and health is key.

3. Seek recommendations.

Perhaps the easiest way to make your decision of who to commit to on your fitness journey is hearing from people who have trained with the trainer you potentially want to work with or asking a club manager. Getting some else’s insight on a personal trainer can better assist you when making your final decision. LA Fitness club managers are great resources to utilize. Most gyms also include a short bio on the trainer, which is very helpful in getting an insight into the trainer’s experience.

4. Uphold your end of the bargain.

No matter how wonderful or credible your personal trainer may be, they are simply guides and an added source of accountability for you. It is important to own your contribution to this new level of commitment. Applying what your personal trainer suggests to your life in and outside of the gym is going to be worth more of your time and money spent in between your training sessions.

5. Progress check.

It is absolutely okay to take a step back during these sessions and assess how you are feeling. As you progress in your fitness journey, your needs may evolve as well. Check in with yourself and reflect on how your training is or isn’t going with the goals you initially set. Ask yourself questions like, “Have my goals changed? Am I being challenged enough? Are my needs being properly addressed?” Continue having open lines of communication with your trainer to see to it that you are getting the most out of your time together.

Like anything else, personal training is what you make it, and what you want to get out of it. Starting there, at the goals you wish to achieve, and finding someone who will guide you in reaching those goals can make for a fulfilling experience along your fitness journey.

Personal training can be that extra boost you need to switch out of your mundane gym visits or be the foundational basis for your fitness regimen. No matter where you find yourself on the journey, approach this aspect of wellness with purpose and with the added knowledge that you don’t have to reach your goals on your own.

Schedule a personal fitness assessment today! Not a member yet? Try us out for 3-days free.

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The Top 10 Most Popular Exercises and How to Perform Them Properly

The Top 10 Most Popular Exercises and How to Perform Them Properly

Instead of thinking of this as your one-stop-shop gym guide, think of it as an intro to some of the top most popular exercises, and how to perform them properly. Once you have a handle on the basic exercises below, try out some of the advanced alternatives to step up your exercise game!

#1 Burpee

  • Muscles Targeted: Arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.
  • The How-to:
    • Begin in your basic neutral standing position.
    • Bring your palms to the floor while simultaneously squatting down.
    • Kick your legs back to a plank position.
    • Immediately bring feet back to squat position.
    • Push yourself upward into a jump and repeat.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic burpee, you can increase the level of difficulty by trying a burpee with a pushup. Perform the same moves as a basic burpee but add a pushup before bringing your feet back into the starting squat position and jumping upward.

#2 Bodyweight Squat

  • Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, adductors, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and abs.
  • The How-to:3
    • Begin with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Your feet should be slightly turned outward, only about 5 to 20 degrees.
    • Keep your head facing forward, don’t tilt it back or tilt it forward.
    • Push your hips backward and bend your knees. Keep your weight in the back of your heels. You can test this by wiggling your toes. If you can, you are balanced correctly.
    • Keep your spine in a neutral position and make sure your knees don’t go past your feet.
    • Once your hip joint is lower than your knees, push yourself back up to your original standing position. Squeeze your glutes at the top for some extra muscle building.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic bodyweight squat, you can increase the level of difficulty by trying a weighted squat or barbell squat. Your form should remain the same, but now you’ll have the weight of a barbell resting on your shoulders. It might be best to start off on an assisted squat machine, if not, and you’re a beginner, try having a friend or fellow gym-goer spot you.

#3 Lunges

  • Muscles Targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
  • The How-to:
    • Begin in a neutral standing position. Bring one leg forward, about 2 to 3 feet, and bend both knees.
    • Your forward leg should not bend past your knee. Keep at a 90-degree angle.
    • Push off with forwarding leg to return to neutral standing position. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic lunge, you can increase the level of difficulty by trying a weighted side lunge. Grab a set of dumbbells and lunge to the side of your body. This helps work the inner thighs too!

#4 Plank

  • Muscles Targeted: Abdominals and back muscles.
  • The How-to:
    • Lie on the floor or an exercise mat with your stomach facing down and elbows tucked under your shoulders. You should be resting on your forearms with your arms facing down.
    • Tighten your abdominal muscles. Push your heels out. Your feet should be balanced by your tiptoes.
    • Push yourself up onto your forearms, much like you would in a push-up position.
    • Keep your neck in neutral alignment with your spine.
    • Hold for as long as possible before lowering yourself back onto the floor.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the plank, you can increase the level of difficulty by trying a side plank. Instead of assuming a pushup position, lay on your side and push yourself up off the ground, balancing on your forearm and the side of your foot. Hold for as long as possible. Once finished, switch sides.

Shown: Advanced movement. Side plank. 

#5 Bench Press

  • Muscles Targeted: Chest, front shoulders, triceps brachii, and back.
  • The How-to:
    • Begin by lying on the bench with your eyes directly underneath the bar.
    • Grab the bar with a medium grip, include your thumbs around it.
    • Straighten your arms upward, un-racking the bar.
    • Bring the bar to your mid-chest and press back up to the beginning position with straight arms.
    • Safety tip: It’s always smart to have a spotter when performing a bench press. In case the weight gets too heavy, you have someone who can help safely return the bar to the rack.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic bench press, increase the level of difficulty by increasing your weight. Always make sure you’re not pushing yourself past your fitness level, to prevent potential injury.

#6 Kettlebell Swing*

  • Muscles Targeted: Hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs, and grip.
  • The How-to:7
    • Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart holding the kettlebell in a firm grip.
    • Squat down while simultaneously swinging the kettlebell through your legs.
    • Stand up and swing the kettlebell forward, making sure you keep your grip firm.
    • The kettlebell should not come higher than the face/chin level for a basic kettlebell swing.
  • Advanced Movement: This exercise is pretty great as is. Trying variations of this move could potentially do damage to your shoulders, so for safety reasons, we recommend sticking to the basics on this one.
  • Disclaimer: *Not all LAF clubs have kettlebells.

#7 Lat Pulldown

  • Muscles Targeted: Latissimus dorsi (back), biceps and forearm.
  • The How-to:
    • Stand tall and grab the bar while simultaneously sitting down on the bench. Your arms should be in a “V”-shape.
    • Keep elbows pointed down. Pull the bar down towards your chest, squeezing your lats (back muscles).
    • Lower the bar to your chin or slightly below.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic lat pulldown, increase the level of difficulty by increasing your weight. Always make sure you’re not pushing yourself past your fitness level, to prevent potential injury.

#8 Russian Twist

  • Muscles Targeted: Abdominals/obliques.
  • The How-to:
    • Sit on the floor and place your feet under something weighted or use a workout partner to help hold your feet in place.
    • Bend your body back slightly and twist/rotate from side to side.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic Russian twist, you can increase the level of difficulty by balancing your feet off the ground or holding weights when you twist.

#9 Leg Press

  • Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, calves, glutes, hamstrings and hip adductors.
  • The How-to:
    • Sit on machine with head and back on padded bench.
    • Please your heels flat against the footplate. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Make sure your knees aren’t inward or outward. They should align with your feet.
    • Carefully release the assist handle, making sure you have the appropriate weight on the machine beforehand and bend your knees towards your body.
    • Push away, back to starting position. Repeat.

#10 Curl

  • Muscles Targeted: Biceps.
  • The How-to:
    • Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand.
    • Keep elbows close to your body with your palms facing outward.
    • Curl weights upwards towards your shoulders while contracting your biceps.
    • Lower back to starting position. Repeat.
  • Advanced Movement: Once you’ve mastered the basic bicep curl, increase weight for a more enhanced burn.


  1. Dima, et al. “Five Reasons Why Burpees Should Be Your Favorite Exercise.” 12 Minute Athlete, 27 Nov. 2012,
  2. Rail, Kevin. “Muscles Targeted While Performing Squats.” COM, Leaf Group,
  3. Ardison, Staci. “How to Squat Properly – A Step-By-Step Guide.” Nerd Fitness, 7 Dec. 2018,
  4. Farley, Ashley. “What Muscles Do Lunges Target?” COM, Leaf Group,
  5. Lowis, Steven. “Muscles Contraction During Plank Exercise.” COM, Leaf Group,
  6. Reifkind, Tracy. “Swing For The Fences: Kettlebell Training-Burn Fat And Build Muscles!” com,, 27 July 2018,
  7. Vennare, Jen. “How to Do the Perfect Kettlebell Swing.” Greatist, Greatist, 10 July 2017,
  8. Cespedes, Andrea. “What Muscle Does the Lateral Pulldown Work?” com, 21 Nov. 2017,

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HIIT Results in Weight Loss

HIIT Results in Weight Loss

Watch out because we’re about to HIIT you with some facts (that’s the only pun, I swear).

HIIT, otherwise known as high-intensity interval training, is a fast yet challenging way to get your workout in and continue burning calories afterward your workout as well. This is due to the Afterburn Effect” caused by EPOC, or post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC can help HIIT enthusiasts burn calories for up to 36 hrs. after their workout!*

Shorter workout periods and longer calorie-burning times? It sounds too good to be true.

(But it’s not.)

HIIT incorporates functional exercises, core training, cardio interval training, and strength training. The key is focusing on different heart rate training zones. Each zone uses a different percentage of max heart rate, allowing for different types of burns. While there are different types of HIIT workouts ranging from 10 minutes, all the way to an hour, HIIT by LAF uses the full hour so you get the best workout to help maximize your endurance, calorie burn, and fat loss.

In order to achieve the “Afterburn Effect”, you should maintain staying within 80% to 89% of your max heart rate for 15-25 minutes throughout your workout. This is when carbohydrates and fats go through supply variances and help contribute to the burn. Due to HIIT being based around heart rate, a heart rate monitor is suggested in order to properly monitor your workout.

In a HIIT by LAF class, MYZONE Heart Rate monitors are worn. MYZONE uses the HUNT formula to calculate max HR.

HUNT Formula

Max HR = 211 – (0.64 x age)

For example, a 28-year-old female would calculate her max HR like this –

Step 1: Multiple 0.64 x 28 (person’s age), which equals 17.92.

Step 2: Subtract that number (17.92) from 211, which equals a maximum heart rate of 193.08.

0.64 x 28 = 17.92

211 – 17.92 = 193.08

HIIT and Weight Loss

The whole purpose of interval training is to help increase calorie burn and build more lean muscle mass. With HIIT, the body may be burning through more calories than it’s used to, depending on your old routine. Because of this, it’s super important that you’re giving your body the nutrition it needs in order to sustain a high-intensity workout – and that means plenty of protein.

Check out our list of protein suggestions you may want to add to your diet!


Thinking about giving HIIT by LAF a try? Find out more by checking out some FAQs here.

The Living Healthy Podcast recently published an episode that dives further into what HIIT training encompasses, who HIIT training benefits the most, and why it may be worth adding to your exercise routine. LA Fitness Master Trainer, Geoff F., is our expert on the matter. Listen to the full episode, here.

Visit one of the following LA Fitness locations and try out a HIIT by LAF class today!*


Tinley Park (Signature Club)

Coming Soon!









*Results may vary. HIIT by LAF is available to LA Fitness members 16 years of age or older (or at least 13 years of age and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) who have purchased Spectrum-branded programming, as indicated on such members’ membership agreements. A parent or legal guardian must sign membership agreement on behalf of members under 18 years of age. Non-LA Fitness members must provide valid I.D. and sign a waiver of liability to use HIIT by LAF studios. Please visit a HIIT by LAF studio for more information, including membership options and pricing.

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