Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Long-Term Benefits of Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp


“Other workouts have become so easy compared to yours,” is something I often hear from my Slim & Strong participants after a month of training. It’s great to hear that they build up so much strength, endurance and fitness that they see the difference quickly. While our Slim & Strong classes can feel like you got hit by a bus after your first time, there is a method to the madness and we don’t work out that hard just to show off.

Our Slim & Strong and Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp workouts follow the idea of high-intensity interval training, also called HIIT. This acronym means that for short periods of time you push yourself to maximum intensity and then follow it with lower intensity. The time at maximum intensity increases with regular practice and the time of lower intensity shortens as you get fitter. The idea of the workout is to maximize your workout time to get the most benefits.

Many people care about how many calories they burn during a workout. They think the harder and longer they work and the more cardio they do, the more calories they burn. Similarly, they might think that the less they eat the more weight they lose. That’s actually not true. At least, it’s not the whole picture. When it comes to changing your body it’s not just about burning calories. It’s about which hormones you activate during a routine that make you burn body fat and gain lean muscle while ensuring muscle recovery and healthy body.

Our high-intensity interval training workouts activate quite a few hormones:

Adrenaline ensures you burn subcutaneous fat (the fat underneath your skin).

Growth hormone is released with strength training and bursts of high intensity that break the anaerobic threshold. Growth hormone is essential for getting you lean, boosting muscle growth and recovery, and keeping you young.  It declines as you get older.

– Your insulin sensitivity is improved. That means your cells need less insulin to make energy from the sugar in your blood stream. Balanced insulin levels are important to lose weight and stay healthy. High insulin levels are associated with a slew of health and metabolic issues, such as weight gain, pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, obesity and various inflammatory conditions (including heart disease cancer, stroke and arthritis).

– Short bursts of intensity (versus long and drawn-out cardio sessions) prevent cortisol build-up. High cortisol levels are associated with fat storage and muscle loss. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism and the quicker you gain weight.

EPOC is increased. This acronym stands for excess post-exercise-oxygen-consumption and it means you burn more calories following a high-intensity workout than after a low intensity workout. The after-burn effect can be active for up to 48 hours and means you might be burning an additional 20% of the calories you burned in your workout. The harder your workout, the greater the EPOC.

Nitric oxide production increases during a workout. This substance makes your blood vessels slightly bigger so that nutrients and blood can get to the muscles to keep them working hard longer.

If you call the treadmill, elliptical, or spinning bike your home without doing any strength training and rest days, then you might actually do more harm than good. Here’s why:

Muscle breakdown: Long-drawn-out cardio sessions promote catabolism or muscle breakdown. Extensive cardio sessions make your body release the stress hormone cortisol. It makes your body use protein for energy. Since your muscles are made out of protein you will lose muscle mass. Long-term cortisol elevation also leads to fat storage in the face and waist: not a good look. HIIT isn’t meant to be done daily. Three times a week is ideal to promote recovery and muscle growth.

Stress on the heart: Recent research has found more and more that lasting stress on the heart can lead to something called “athletic heart syndrome”, where your heart becomes enlarged in order to keep up with the stress placed on it. It can also lead to an increase in your body’s stress response (high cortisol levels) and lead to an irregular heartbeat. However, we’re talking hours and hours of cardio and this should not be a concern for the average exerciser.

Ask yourself:

1) Does your workout change your body? Is it getting you leaner, fitter, stronger and more powerful?

2) Does it energize you and make you feel healthier?

3) Does it make you feel uncomfortable enough to promote change?

If not, make sure you incorporate workouts that combine strength training and short bursts of cardio. The Slim & Strong workouts on Booya follow the HIIT model and are perfect at-home routines. Most importantly, don’t forget about resting your body. If you don’t give your body a chance to recover, you are not allowing your muscles to rebuild and recover and you’re actively breaking them down. Try yoga or go for a swim. Be good to your body and work with it – not against it.

Ariane Hundt, founder of Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp.

Food Diary: Avoid Post-Meal Sugar Cravings


Hi Ariane, 

Here’s my food diary for the last week. I’ve noticed a jump in my energy level without as much starch in my diet, which is great. And I feel like I’m getting better about incorporating more protein. I’ve never kept a food diary or really paid much attention to my eating habits, so it’s been a real learning curve.
Beyond learning to “eat clean” I’ve been facing two challenges: 
1) I’m finding that a shake for dinner is not filling enough. Do you have any suggestions?
2) I’m craving a sweet after lunch or dinner.  I’ve been trying to substitute sugar with fruit when the craving is too strong, but I know that’s not ideal. What can I eat instead?
Food Diary
Day 1:
Breakfast: 1c kefir and 1/4 c steel cut oatmeal
AM Snack:  Fage yogurt and a handful of almonds (dry roasted)
Lunch: Baked zucchini and grilled chicken
PM Snack: Apple and string cheese
Dinner: Vegetables and tofu in yellow curry sauce
Day 2:
Breakfast: 1c kefir and 1/4 c steel cut oatmeal
AM Snack: Whey protein shake-water and 1/4c strawberries 
Lunch:Roasted pork and zucchini, steamed cauliflower and broccoli 
PM Snack: 1 red Pepper cut up with hummus
Dinner: Roast pork with 20 spears of asparagus 
2 small choc chip cookies and 1/2 c skim milk (cheat snack)
Day 3:
Breakfast: Tofu, egg whites and kale scramble
AM Snack: Apple and string cheese
Lunch: Roasted chicken(1/2 serving) arugula salad, meatloaf(1/2 serving), 1 pierogi. 1 slice chocolate zucchini cake. 1oz. (Office thanksgiving potluck!!!!!!!!)
PM Snack:quest bar 
Dinner: Protein shake–almond milk, banana and spinach 
Thanks for your feedback!
That is a great week of eating!
Given that you’re lean to begin with, you definitely want to eat dinner, rather than just have a protein shake. Skimping on calories too much makes it impossible to gain muscle. If you do have a shake here and there, but the shake isn’t filling enough, you can add 1/2 an avocado, which makes it creamier and more filling.  I think the reason your shake didn’t fill you up on that Day 3 was because you had sugar during the day, which lowered your blood sugar and by the time dinner rolled around and you had just a shake, you simply couldn’t regain your blood sugar balance.
The cravings after lunch or dinner are typically a sign that your blood sugar isn’t balanced, which can be the result of your previous meal being too small or unbalanced. Take a look at what you had in the meal before and see if it was truly providing you with enough protein (to fill you up) and veggies (to keep you full). Too many carbs and too little protein can cause blood sugar issues, causing it to drop. The cravings set in so that you replenish your blood sugar. However, eating sugar would be the wrong thing to do. You want to raise your blood sugar, not skyrocket it only to drop again.
I suggest you make your breakfast a little higher in carbs and aim for about 30g of carbs along with 20g of protein. For example, 3 eggs with 2 slices of whole grain bread, or a 3-egg omelette with a lot of veggies, or 3/2 cup of slow-cooking oatmeal with 1 cup of low-fat Greek Yogurt. You should notice that your afternoon cravings become a thing of the past if you balance the first two meals of the day. Also, make sure you eat an afternoon snack about 3 hours after lunch to maintain your blood sugar balance and counteract cravings.
As you continue to eat clean, you’ll become more and more sensitive to sugar and starches and you’ll feel the impact more and more. That in itself turns you off to eating excessive amounts of bad carbs too often.
Your food intake was great: protein at every meal, along with veggies. Nice job!

– Ariane Hundt, founder of Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp.

Behind-the-Scenes with Grit by Brit


Brittani Rettig holds several national and global fitness certifications including the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), BeachBody, Les Mills, Schwinn and teaches group fitness classes for W Hotels and 24 Hour Fitness. Her GRIT by Brit workout combines kick-boxing, athletic drills, dance and high intensity intervals choreographed to heart pumping music. Brit gives an insider peek at her latest workout taping:

That’s me, front and center, delivering the GRIT by Brit workout for Booya Fitness.

Booya is a revolutionary new fitness company that provides high-end workout videos to consumers on demand.  Think NetFlix for workout videos. It features amazing fitness instructors mostly from the best boutique fitness studios in NYC.

Personally, I decided to support Booya and be a featured instructor on the platform because I love the idea of being able to connect with my students outside of the group fitness classroom.  Also, the founder, Prita Kumar, is a fellow Harvard Business School MBA and Fitness Fanatic (like me).  Prita and I met each other over Twitter and instantly connected.  I’m so excited for her to transform the fitness industry through high-end video content.  You can learn more about her journey to starting in this cool start up documentary.

So, let me move on and tell you a little about the cool experience I had at the  shoot and what you can expect from the new and improved GRIT by Brit workout.

brit in car

Here I am headed to the studio with my cue cards in hand!


If you have a copy of my DVD (if you don’t you can buy one on Amazon), you’ll notice that the workout I designed for Booya is very similar.  However, I really tried to take my game to the next level.  In addition to the jammin’ music, I incorporated new techniques I’ve learned to over the past year to enhance my workout.  Specifically:

1. More fun: I incorporated some “dance-like” moves into the cardio sections and into the choreography overall.

2. More fierce: After each cardio round I have a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) section.

3. More fitness: Throughout the workout I really focused on focus on toning the legs and core.  Also I only use of body weight resistance training – no hand weights this time

I feel a huge sense of accomplishment after this shoot because I can look back on my progress over the past year and see how I’ve really grown as a fitness instructor and personal coach.  It feels good knowing that I’m better able to help people reach their fitness goals.  I’m very confident that my new workout video will inspire and motivate tons of people to have fun, get fit and show their GRIT.