Monday, September 22, 2014

New Season: Health and Fitness, Great Motivation

Stronger Body, High-Octane Brain

Here’s How: Meet my Brilliant and Inspiring Fitness Trainer of Ten Years, David McGuire. 

This week I have a fantastic post with a lot of inspiring information, intelligent fitness and stamina ideas, new tips on how to travel well—for gym rats and for the until-now exercise-averse. And great tips for staying fit and healthy while sitting at the computer for hours.

For a complete change of pace this week on THE STYLE SALONISTE, I talk with top San Francisco fitness trainer David McGuire to get his inspiring insight.

David McGuire and Juna photographed at Half Moon Bay, California, September 21, 2014.

Lots to learn this week: I propose that you print it out. Save it.

I was inspired to post this health and fitness post after meeting Matthew Patrick Smyth, the great New York interior designer, at the Biennale des Antiquaries last week in Paris. We were chatting about the antiques and art on show, and Matthew suddenly said, “Thank you so much for that great blog you posted about fitness and stamina and endurance—and talking about how you train so that you can lift luggage into the overhead bins on a plane.”

Matthew said that these fitness tips, from my trainer, David McGuire, were so inspiring he’d passed them on to clients and friends. I decided I must add new information and ideas—and repost this concept.

You’ll hear this week David’s healthy (and sensible) approach to exercise, lifting your spirits, working out, staying motivated, loving your body, and keeping your brain creative and frisky.

Note: there are great ideas here for my dear readers who are not exercise fanatics, and for everyone who spends more time at a computer than at the gym.

I exercise—so that I can travel well and with stamina. I train for fitness and confidence and so that when I’m in remote regions of India or in Venice or in Paris or at home in San Francisco or planning a trip to the Andes—I can boldly walk and explore and spend hours hiking with a friend, and never lose power. I never get jet lag.

I want to explore, hike, meet monks in Laos, get up early to help at an orphanage, lecture, help others, travel on India’s rough roads, stay up all night at a Sufi music concert, or row across Richardson Bay. There are many worlds to conquer.

I want that power and spirit and stamina for you as well.

Let’s get started. You may wish to print these out. You must. The printouts will look like a magazine, and you can read and re-read, take it with you on the next flight.

DDS: What’s the first essential concept we should all know about exercise?

The human body is designed to move. It’s an incredible machine. Movement keeps the body happy, healthy and functioning properly. The brain is fed. Every system we have- from respiratory to circulatory to emotional—is happy when it gets put to use on a regular basis.

Our physical and emotional states are more conjoined than we can ever imagine. One feeds the other. When your body is healthy and strong, so are your brain, your mind, your spirit. With moderate exercise we can handle each day with less stress, more patience, confidence and clarity.

DDS: A quick and effective exercise those of us sitting at a computer for hours?

Sit down and stand up 100x every hour. Seriously. Do one set of 25 every fifteen minutes. Also, lift and rotate and flex your feet.

Move your arms any way you want, but move them. Get as many joints working as possible. Rise up on your toes and test your balance. Lift one leg behind yourself and feel your glutes in action. Each set will take you less than 60 seconds. That’s 4 minutes of activity each hour. Easy. Done. 

David playing with Juna, Presidio, California, 2012.

I happily inhabit the design and style world where my vocabulary includes words like gauffrage and Givenchy and Galanos and gilt and gorgeous. I write books.

But I also inhabit another world—where my vocabulary includes abs, lats, biceps, deadlifts, TRX, rowing machines, dumbbells, weights, and triceps. And another world that involves trans-Atlantic flights and walking miles to airport gates.

Fitness trainer David McGuire is responsible for my on-going passion for increasing strength, heightening stamina and endurance, keeping the brain buzzing, and maintaining great health, and traveling well and in great comfort, with power.

Stamina, focus, strength, great mood, intensity, and a calm and tranquil approach have been my specific goals. It’s not so much about appearance.

David’s approach is entirely healthy, engaging, sensible, effective, personal, and lots of fun. He is always cheerful.

Come and be inspired.

DDS: Suggestions on getting motivated? Some of your clients start the day exercising with you at 7am, then shower, and head to work.

I admire them and love their determination and drive. I’m not talking about having the perfect body at all. I’m talking about being healthy, feeling strong, exuding confidence and getting your body moving. Motivation starts in the brain. That’s the command center. When you feel the effect and see the results of exercise, it is very inspiring.

Find an activity you love. Fit it into your daily schedule.

Exercise with a friend on weekends. Nothing is stronger than just finding it within yourself and charging forward. Turning up.

Put it on your schedule—for example, a spin class at 6pm every day, yoga every morning at 8, or walking with a friend at 11am every Sunday. Pilates at 6pm. A walk after work. Boardsailing. A fast walk with the dog. Make it specific.

DDS: Best way to do effective regular exercise with or without a gym or a trainer?

Schedule an appointment with yourself. Put it on your to-do list and make it non-negotiable. I will spend time on ME today. It’s a habit, a pattern and one very solid reason to feel good about exercise. Try new activities like hiking with a friend on a Saturday morning. Join a club and swim every Sunday afternoon. Bike to work.

Group exercise classes are offered everywhere and cover movements from yoga to belly dancing. I promise there’s an exercise class for anyone. There’s energy in the group dynamic and you’ll meet some great people.

DDS: Some equipment to work with at home?

Your body is a wonderful piece of equipment that needs very little to keep it fit, healthy and challenged. You don’t need anything but your legs to get your heart rate high. Run up the stairs in your house or building and you can really get going. There are times when you just have to have some weights in your hands. I keep a couple of sets of dumb-bells with me. Just 5, 10 or 15 pounds. The options with these are endless. Nothing fancy, just some old-school weights to throw around and play with. 

DDS: Light equipment to take on travels to continue with effective exercise?

I’m a big fan of stretch bands. They’re available in different sizes of rubber tubing with sturdy handles on each end. They are available everywhere and can provide a varied resistance level from any angle for any muscle – push, pull, press, twist, hook them around a door handle and it can all be done. There is other lightweight equipment.

DDS: Turning a walk into a dynamic exercise?

Walking is wonderful, convenient, and can be done anywhere. I challenge anyone who’s walking as the primary source of aerobic activity to change it up. Throw something completely different at your body and enjoy your heart-rate climb and your muscles responding. Don’t make it easy on yourself, but have a good time. Challenge the muscles with new exercise patterns. Some ideas:

• change your stride length

• speed up

• change levels as much as possible. There’s no question that this turns your caloric burn way up. Ascend swiftly and descend with complete control. Don’t stop when it gets difficult. Challenge yourself. Stairs, benches, curbs, steep hills and trails all hold countless possibilities.

• sit down and stand up 10 times at every park bench you walk by. Try to get to 100 times before you end your walk. Check on your progress with a FitBit fitness tracker or other wrist device.

DDS: Tips on eating after a vigorous workout?

A pre-workout meal should be something simple, low in fat and fiber and easily digestible (fruit, toast with jelly, handful of raisins, oatmeal, juice). The important thing is to have something in your stomach before you even begin exercising. You can’t run a car on empty.

Post-workout food is equally as crucial. In this meal you should enjoy protein and carbohydrates together. Your muscles are broken down. They need the power from a protein to rebuild and the energy from a carb. This should be done within 90 minutes of your workout. Keep it low fat. Fat slows down digestion and that’s the last thing you want for your body. Some of my favorites include a fresh turkey sandwich with lots of lettuce and wholewheat bread, sushi with brown rice, any type of wrap, a healthy burrito, a chicken or salmon salad. Of course, drink fresh water. Stay hydrated. 

DDS: An effective 20-minute daily circuit of exercise to do at home?

Move all major muscles, move in every direction and incorporate important things like balance, endurance and flexibility. Do any combination of the list below, depending on your goals and what you enjoy doing.

Your 20 minutes should be non-stop action. No resting for more than a minute and no sitting down. Push yourself and get creative.

Squat. One of the absolute best exercises.

Push-up. Start with a good slant in your body and decrease the angle as you get stronger.

Pull something toward yourself. Kneel on a bench and pull hand weights up toward your body. Use anything heavy you can find.

Lift a weight above your head. Repeat. Twenty. This is one of the most crucial movements we have, especially for osteoporosis

Lift something manageable yet heavy over your head, it sends a compressive force through the body. This strengthens the bones. Highly recommended.

Get your heart rate high. Really high. How long can you keep it there?

Jog in place, crank out some easy jumping jacks, dance like Beyonce. Whatever you enjoy, do, but keep your furnace on high for 20 minutes. It is important for our bodies to be out of breath on a regular basis. The heart is a muscle and you’ve got to make it work, keep it strong.

Stand on one foot and move your body like crazy - reach, bend, twist, look around. Feel your standing leg rooted and strong and let one leg do the work of two for a while. Balance only improves with practice and it usually responds pretty quickly.

Stretch. Reach longer and farther than you think you can.


DDS: Life-long fitness. What is the best mindset?

Do what you love and be proud of yourself. Stare in the mirror and like what you see.

Keep moving. Be inventive. Get the support of a coach, a trainer, a motivator, an instructor, a teacher. Keep learning about fitness.

Try to do some exercise every day. Try new approaches, Learn new skills. Take tennis lessons. Dance, bike, skate, play Frisbee, walk home from work, swim, get off the bus one stop before your destination, take a Pilates class, try martial arts, take tango lessons. Keep learning and moving.

There’s a big difference between challenging yourself and beating yourself up. We’re really good at the latter and I truly believe that way of thinking is counterproductive.

With exercise, attitude is everything. I work out for the mental strength and the peace it provides me. I’m more calm, patient and stress-resistant after a workout.

Any changes that happen with my body or how it looks are secondary. Health is the goal. Strength. I know what I’m doing is keeping me healthy, strong and ready for anything. I’ll never stop exercising, moving or trying new things. I love it. You have to realize that your body is an amazing, incredible machine designed to move in millions of ways.

I believe in goal setting. Make these goals as complicated or as simple as you want, but there has to be at least one on the table. How else do we see tangible and real results? Achieving these goals, no matter their size is what will get you back into the gym or working out regularly.

Special New Inspiration for Travel, Fitness and Health

I am often on long flights from California to Paris, or Munich to Delhi. That’s eleven hours plus. I can sleep (day or night) for about eight hours—and then I have to get up and exercise.

I asked David for a special new list of exercises to do in a small space on a plane—without getting all narcissistic or disturbing others.

Read his concepts—and adopt these next time you’re heading transcontinental or from city to city, or on the train.

Oh, and…my best tip is not to eat plane food. Take a salad, an apple, some carrots. Don’t drink alcohol (pilots will tell you this)…and sleep. Drink lots of water. Wear lightweight compression stockings. And when you wake, do these exercises discreetly.

DDS: David, thank you so much. You are a great inspiration and the most cheerful person on the planet. Warmest thanks.

Note: David suggests consulting with your physician before embarking on new exercise. He’s an enthusiastic trainer and motivates people of all exercise levels. He suggests: follow his plans sensibly. Work out with a trainer, or join a group at a gym. Start slowly, perhaps with walks around your neighborhood, and perform these exercises appropriately for your fitness level. Get the basics right, then exercise outdoors, at a gym, with friends, or at home.

Good luck! Let us know how it works and how you feel.

David McGuire's Travel Tips


When we're traveling to the most exciting of foreign places, sitting for several hours on a plane can be extremely stressful - both mentally (airport procedures, lines, delays) and physically.

It all starts the day before your flight. On that day you've got to move more and sit less than normal to prepare yourself and your body for what's ahead. Set a plan to go for a hike, climb some steps somewhere outside, take a yoga class, plant something in your garden, hop on your bike..anything that gets your body active and energized.

The possibilities are endless. And since you're going to be on an airplane for a while, the more time you spend outside, the better. Your mind is clear and your body is happy you've moved it so much in preparation for today. And, second, once you sit in that plane seat, you'll feel more rested, relaxed and likely to sleep. The flight time by.

There are movements you can do during that long flight that will make your body very, very happy.

In your seat:

Neck rolls. Drop your chin to your chest and slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder. Look up above you. Look straight ahead and tilt your ear toward your shoulder on each side. Breathe deep and deliberately. Feel all of the tension in your neck melt away.

Shoulder shrugs. Lift your shoulders up to your ears and hold them there for a count of 5, then simply let them drop. Do this at least 10-15 times.

Shoulder circles. Roll your shoulders forward and back. Make the biggest circles in each direction as possible. Visualize all of the tension leaving your neck/shoulder area like air out of a balloon. Relax. Now sit with your shoulder blades squeezing together behind you. Hold this for a 10 count and let them fall back forward. The technical name is scapular retraction and it's the fastest way to look taller and thinner. Promise.

Forward bend/arm reach. Bow forward at your waist until there is a good 3 inches between your seat and your mid-back. Lengthen your spine upwards. Picture a rope in the center of your head pulling your forward. Now clasp your hands in front of you, rotate your palms to face outwards and lift your arms until they're next to your ears. Again, feel as long as possible from the base of your spine to the end of your arms.

Ankle movements. Take your shoes off and move your feet as much as possible. Raise your heels high and then flex your feet back toward your leg. Do this until you feel your feet fatigued. Rest and then repeat this at least 8 more times. Rotate your ankles big in each direction.

Seated abdominals. (One of my personal favorites). Inhale as much air as you possibly can. Now take in some more. Perfect. Hold that for 10 seconds while contracting your abdominals. Pull your stomach into your spine. Feel that tightness before you exhale. Nicely done. Now do that at least 8 more times. This is another one that would be great for you to do off the plane. If you want to lose a quick 5 pounds....just hold your stomach in.

Now get out of that seat and let's move some more.

Stand up straight! I mean really straight. More than you think you can. Taller than you've ever been. Remember that rope in the center of your head, it's taking your ribs with it. Pull your shoulders back and move them slightly and very gently behind your waist. Perform a small (very small) backbend. Picture yourself rolling back on a giant ball. Contract your abdominals to bring you back upright. Do this at least 8 times. Every time you come back to upright, imagine you've gained an inch.

Side bend. In a yoga class it's called "half moon" because that's the shape you're trying to make with your body. Interlace your ingers in front of you again and then face your palms outward. Raise your arms above your head and bend your body to one side. Let your hips gently glide in the opposite direction. Breathe. Relax. Lengthen. Repeat on the other side. I suggest a minimum of 4 each side. Remember, every time your come back to center, you're taller than you were before. At least an inch.

Chest stretch. Interlace your fingers behind your back at the base of your spine and, again, face your palms outward. Now raise them slowly up as much as you can. You'll feel your entire chest open up. Remember one goal we have is to get our arms behind us. This does it with an exclamation point. Please remember to breathe. Take gigantic exhales. This sends an immediate message to your nervous system to relax.

March in place (in the galley or exit row). Exactly like it sounds. Lead a parade. Stand taller than you can imagine. The last flight I was on to see my parents I did this in the back of the plane knowing that I looked strange, but not concerned at all. I sat down feeling wonderful and refreshed. Within 10 minutes I watched 3 other passengers 
duplicate what I had been doing. I smiled. They were just l listening to their body and giving it what it wanted. 


Once you've reached your destination:

Resist the pillow. Get outside and walk. Your excitement of finally arriving and your desire to explore has got to be greater than your temptation to go to the hotel and lay down.

Breathe in the fresh air of your new city or country and let the sun give you some much deserved vitamin D.

This will help you stay alert and make it to an early (yet realistic) bedtime. You'll definitely feel better the next morning.

Then plan activities that make you move, hike, climb. Sightseeing while sitting on a bus and looking out the window feels a lot like an airplane to your body. If you remember nothing else, our bodies are designed to move. They're amazing and wonderful pieces of equipment, whether they're in a new city or back home. Give your body what it wants. 

Photo credits:
Photos of David with his beloved dog, Juna, by David’s partner, Tom Dennis. 
With thanks. 

David McGuire is a certified trainer and exercise instructor, and he works with clients at many levels of fitness, including those who may be recovering from a sports injury or illness. He is dedicated to motivating his clients, and focuses on fitness, health, and ‘being there’. David McGuire says he admires every client who ‘turns up and works out at their maximum’.

To contact David:

David also gives private and group lessons at the Pacific Heights Health Club, on Pine Street near Fillmore in San Francisco,


Francine Gardner said...

OMG…. I have no motivation unless I prepare for a trekking/ climbing trip, this interview really made me aware of my lack of "health maintenance". As for flying, I do agree with you, best to get off the plane and get going even after these grueling 20 hours non stop flights...

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Thank you.

Yes…avoiding jet lag is an art.

I want to arrive in India or Stockholm and start exploring, start working, start meeting people.

David is compelling. I proposed that you print out this post…it looks like a magazine…and take it with you. Then do some of the exercises on the plane. You will feel in control on a long flight.
my best DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

SUZANNE TUCKER the great San Francisco designer left the following message this morning:

Dear Diane--

How timely and inspiring as I leapt off the scale this morning in horror!! Thank you, Diane!

Suzanne Tucker

58 Maiden Lane, Fourth Floor
San Francisco, California 94108
t: 415.445.6789 f:415.445.6762

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

The great interiors photographer left the following message:

Hi Diane,

Excellent post! Loved it. So valuable and important a topic. If we have our health we live a fuller, happier life. This is an inspiring post.

Thanks so much for reposting it.

very best,


Kathryn MacDonald

Kathryn MacDonald Photography | Web Marketing
650 5th St. #409
San Francisco, CA 94107

Karena said...

Dear Dianne,
Thank you so very much! I am rehabbing from another hip replacement and yes, It is sometimes a challenge to keep moving and doing the "drill" so to speak. David is amazing and you are fortunate to have him!
The Arts by Karena

GlamGirlsLuxTravels said...

Hi Dianne, greetings from Brisbane, Au. From one very avid traveler to another.. thanks a million for this great insight from David. I am heading off to S Africa soon, to escort a tour around that magnificent country.. so need to be awake and rearing to go when I land.
Keep moving, and breathing.. and enjoying life to the maximum.
Kind regards - Jean Wethmar
PS.. I'd love to chat about India.. but cant seem to find your email address?.. thanks heaps.. x j

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I've had such great response to this 'fitness and health' blog post. Of course, everyone loves David's advice.

I've had comments from all over the world…and my friend Julie Vidor just sent the following message:

Diane.......this is just great."......................Julia

Windlost said...

An inspiring and beautiful, in many ways, post Diane. Thank you. David sounds and looks lovely and amazing. So glad you know him. He's a gem. Xo Terri.

PS. We are off to charleston and savannah this Saturday for a two week vacation! Also fripp island and the ocean and lots and lots of walking. So appreciate the timely airplane tips. Xo Terri.