Coach Nicole Reveals Her Workout Routine

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most fitness experts and trainers have super-toned bodies that are sculpted (I can only assume) by many hours in the gym. How do they do it? How much time do they really spend working out?

I can't speak for them, but I can tell you what I do to stay in shape. My routine isn't crazy or impossible—it's pretty balanced. I'm always preaching about the importance of moderation and that is what I strive for when I work out. For me, it's not about how many calories I burn (in fact, I don't pay any attention to that), and it's not about trying to look better (although it's a nice perk, I've learned that focusing on the fitness instead of my appearance yields better results). It's about strengthening my heart, muscles, and bones. It's about feeling better about myself, maintaining a healthy body weight, and setting aside a small amount of time for myself in a day that's otherwise full of helping others. In fact, I exercise for all of the same reasons as most of you. So are you ready to see what my weekly routine is like?

As a full-time SparkPeople editor, my days revolve around deadlines and schedules. That's OK—I need the structure. But when it comes to my workouts, I keep things flexible. Rather than forcing myself to stick to a specific workout time or a certain workout on a certain day, I set a general rule that I will exercise, but I decide what to do that day on a whim most of the time!

No matter what, I meet these fitness goals over the course of the week:

  • Cardio: At least 4 days, lasting 10 minutes per session minimum. Typically, I'll work out for 30-60 minutes during each session. Spinning (indoor cycling class) is my workout staple, not because it burns the most calories. I do it simply because I think it's fun. But being that I am a fitness expert, I know it's best to change it up a bit, which is the only reason I also walk, use DVDs at home, hop on the elliptical, and jog on the treadmill or outside (weather permitting). I like to exercise at a variety of intensity levels—sometimes high intensity sprints, sometimes moderate, and sometimes easy breezy. All aerobic heart rates offer benefits, and I think that a variety is best—you can't expect your body to perform at a high intensity all the time, just as you can't expect to achieve a high level of fitness with low-intensity workouts alone.

  • Strength Training: At least 3 days. I'm always changing up my strength training routine because I get bored easily. I like to do a combination of body weight, light resistance and heavy resistance exercises because I believe that all of these strength-training techniques are beneficial and work your muscles and joints in different ways. Mat Pilates is my go-to strength training routine (twice a week), but I also include at least one other day of more traditional strength training—either light resistance/high rep work (Pilates Reformer, bands, hand weights) or heavy weights in the gym. I do different exercises every time because I get bored doing the same routine day in and day out. Usually, I don't even have a plan—I just look at what I've done during the week and try to balance it out with things that I haven't already done, hitting all of the major muscle groups.

  • Flexibility: Every time I work out. I spend 5-10 minutes stretching at the end of my workout—every time, no matter what.

  • A total of 5 days of exercise per week. I like to take two days off—usually Fridays and Saturdays. Because I like to be somewhat spontaneous with my workouts, I don't plan when I'll take my rest days—I sort of go based on how I feel. Knowing that I don't like to exercise on the weekends motivates me to meet all of my fitness goals for the week during the first 5 days of the week so that I don't HAVE to work out on the weekends unless I really WANT to.

So what does that really look like over the course of a week? It ends up looking like 5-7 days of exercise, usually totaling around 60 minutes per day. Sometimes I do just cardio in a day. Sometimes I do cardio and strength training. Other days I do a short, focused workout because I don't want to spend a lot of time exercising. And most often, I exercise in the evening after work (I am NOT a morning person).

I'm 100% flexible on what workout I do on any given day of the week, and I always have a backup plan. I tend to pack my gym bag so that I'll be ready for anything, but if the day wears on and I just want to go home, that's exactly what I do. As long as I'm meeting my general goals above by the time the week is over, I really don't care exactly how I get there!

OK so I know that what you really want to see is exactly how this breaks down on a daily and weekly basis. So, referring to my handy tracking calendar (that I love so much!), here are the actual workouts I did during a recent week:

  • Sunday: Spinning class (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility
  • Monday: Mat Pilates class (45 minutes) and running outdoors (40 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Tuesday: Pilates Reformer (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Wednesday: No exercise
  • Thursday: Mat Pilates class (60 minutes): strength and flexibility
  • Friday: Spinning class (45 minutes) and kettlebell workout at home (20 minutes): cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Saturday: Brisk walk outside (60 minutes): cardio and flexibility

Over the course of the week, I keep my weekly goals in mind and make sure I meet them. After each week, I can look back and analyze what I did and make sure I'm keeping things balanced. For example, I didn't lift any weights in the gym in this sample week, so I'd make sure to do more of that the following week.

I hope this goes to show that you don't have to be a marathon runner, yoga enthusiast, or gym rat to attain a well-rounded fitness program or be a fit, healthy person. There is no right or wrong way to do it—as long as you're sticking with a routine that works for YOU!

Does it help you to see how the "experts" really eat and exercise? What does your weekly fitness routine look like? Tell us below!

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YMWONG22 3/10/2021
Thank you Report
CKOUDSI617 6/22/2020
These look GREAT! I have very little "booty" at all - hips are 40" but belly is 45"! (It's like I was assembled backwards, LOL!) I need all the help I can get! Thank you! Report
thanks Report
Thanks! Report
Everyday here Report
I miss Coach Nicole. I wish she would come back and post a few updates. Let us know how she and her family are doing. Report
Awesome plan, Coach Nicole! Thanks! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I like your routine! Great plan! Report
Great input had not understood how important stretching is after every cardio session thank you Report
Thanks for the breakdown.. I only do your vids, the others are not as personal. Report
M-W-F gym for 60 min cardio + 60 min strength
Tu-Th-Sat outdoor hiking/walking or mall walking 10,000 steps
Su whatever works for total of 60 minutes.and/or 10,000 steps. Report
This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

" rel="dofollow"workout routines Report
This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

" rel="dofollow"workout routines Report
Hi Friends,
To stay fit and fine it is the best way to do regular workouts, It helps in good blood circulations and keep our body healthy and strong.

hi guys, smith says about Workout Routines Although some people are predisposed to be or look a certain way thanks to their genetic make-up, our body still adapts to the stimulus we place upon it, thereby making it more efficient. So, in terms of sets & repetition ranges, these should be relative to our goals. For example, many would-be bodybuilders like to perform an infinite number of repetitions in order to feel a "pump". Given that this "pump" is lactic acid build-up, they are increasing the endurance capabilities of their muscles by attempting to lift the same weight for a longer duration each time. Their muscle will only adapt & grow if their weight training warrants it - frequently & consistently subjecting the muscles to a greater load.
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Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Nicole! =)
It's awesome to see that people others look up to (I know I do ;-) ) don't necessarily go crazy with their workouts and focus on being fit, healthy and feel well in their skin! I need to remember that much more these days for myself...
Thank you!!! Report
I am slowly working my way to your thought process on cal burned and whatnot. I want to lose the weight but i dont want to obsess about it. I really need to get more experiance under my belt so that i can vary my routines more, but using what i have is fine for now. I am looking foward to walking this fall and am going to attempt to run(something i dont really enjoy,but will give a chance). Thank you for this post Report
I like reading about Coach Nicole's personal workouts. I don't feel so bad about being bored so easily. I am planning to change up my workouts so they're more spontaneous and varied. That will help me get back on track. I was bored, busy, and my workouts had mostly been neglected for those necessities like laundry, cooking, lawn care, cleaning, working full-time plus, commuting over 1 1/2 hrs. etc. My husband and sons always need something- even if just a listening ear. It all takes time. Add in the fact I work night shift... But I haven't given up! Report
This is a very useful guideline for me to follow during my busy work weeks. Report
thanks nicole this will help me in decidng to get more strengthworkouts in Report
I'm a restarter, so my routine is more to make me get on track on my fitness. I do 3 times cardio jump rope a week, 1 strength training for each upper, lower and core. Usually I sandwich cardio together with strength training, total session will be around 30 minutes. Not sure why but it's hard for me to do exercise on Friday so I usually do my sessions on Monday, Wednesday and either Saturday or Sunday. And I agree with Coach Nicole, I much prefer to get myself healthy and fit, avoiding my family's common illness - high-blood, heart-attack, stroke, high-sugar, high-cholesterol, athma. Gosh, lots of things to run away! Report
Thanks for sharing a reasonable fitness routine that works with people's lives. I also try to pack the gym bag the night before and put it in trunk. That way I don't have an excuse to come home and never make it to the gym. Great advice! Thanks again. Report
Thanks for posting this, Nicole!! I was just wondering today if I needed to pick a routine and do ONLY that routine for a period of time and then switch it up. Now, I think that is not so. I'm glad a variety will work just as well. I turned 40 in January. Having indulged in a life of eating what I want and doing NO exercise. I have found myself out of control. I needed to lose about 80 pounds to be in a "normal" weight range. I have lost 12 since joining the site in late Jan. Genetically, I am faced with the possibility of heart disease, HBP, cancer and diabetes. I was told at one point I already had metabolic syndrome. I also have four children I want to live to seen grown and building their own families. I have been using various Sparkpeople Workouts. I am starting with 10 minutes of cardio 3 times a week and strength training 2 days a week. As my stamina grows, I shed pounds, and lose the fear of overtaxing my body by trying to do too much too quickly, I hope to increase the total daily time of the cardio. Baby steps.... Report
It does help a little to see what fitness experts do. In reality though, I don't have 60 minutes a day to exercise because of my hectic lifestyle. I do manage to get 30 minutes of cardio in every day and strength training about 15 minutes every day except on Fridays. I have to plan my workouts because I have a work schedule that is different hours on different days and kids in school and after school activities. Report
She's similar to me. My day off is usually whenever I feel like it, I do different exercises everyday day at the time I feel like, and she varies the intensity. I'd like to see more coach routines!! Report
Thanks for the info it really helped. Looks like I need to increase my work out time each day to at least 45 to 60 minutes a day. Also think I will add pilates as well. Report
Thanks for the info.... it does help to see what others do for there workouts! Report
I found this very encouraging. I am not someone who enjoys strict regimens...I much prefer having a general goal and then going with the flow as I work toward meeting it. I'm working toward increasing the frequency and duration of my workouts, and balance seems to be the key. Pushing too hard becomes drudgery and I lose motivation. Changing up what I am doing it and when also keeps it more interesting and helps me to enjoy it more.


Russ Dotson

Right now I work out M,W,F. Tu,Th I work at my other job and weekend are off. I do cardio for 70 minutes (usually 35 minutes elliptical, 35 minutes treadmill) and weight training for about 30 minutes to complete the circuit.
This is encouraging! Report
Thanks so much, Nicole. This makes me realise that I need to have a plan and routine. I like the idea of packing your gyms bag and taking it wherever you go. I like to work out in the mornings. It gives me energy to start the day Report
Thank you for your blog! I am glad to see others workout schedules and what they do. I have a hard time getting motivated to excercise morning or night. I started walking every night after work. I enjoy that a lot it helps me to wind down from the long day at work. I have done some strength training but for some reason I am having a hard time doing that. I like to have a set schedule but maybe if I be more flexible with myself I won't give up so easily. Thank you again! Report
Thanks for sharing, Nicole. As always, you are an inspiration and a great motivator!

I'm pretty Plain Jane when it comes to routine. I gotta learn to shift things around and get more variety! Right now, I'm doing strength training at the gym Monday and Thursday nights; elliptical on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Sometimes I'll get in a walk on Saturday or Sunday, but I also do yardwork, house cleaning, and other activities on the weekends, so I don't like to overdo it. Report
Hi Nicole,
Thanks for being so honest and it's great to know that you are just one of us!
I related to a lot of what you talked about with the routines and mixing them up. I too, like to do Cardio every time I work out and sometimes more intense than others.

Thanks for sharing of yourself.
Daryl Report
Thanks for being such a good role model, Nicole.
I am a morning person, and so have the mind set that when I exercise first thing in the day, I'm ahead of "the game" for the rest of the day. What one of my typical weeks looks like:
Sunday: yoga 90 minutes
Monday: Hike/run 100 minutes
Tuesday: am: yoga, dance, Core Fusion 80 minutes
afternoon: run 50 minutes
Wednesday: restorative lunar yoga 60-90 minutes
Thursday: run/hike 75-100 minutes
Friday: yoga, dance, Core Fusion 70-100 minutes
Saturday: hike 100-120 minutes
I like doing SparkAmerica and counting my minutes with all the other Californians. I like trying for personal bests and go for 2400-3000 minutes of movement, as illustrated above, per month. I've been between number 30something and 60something in CA for the month every month since I started paying attention in June of last year.
I also love to eat and realize clearly the relationship for myself between input and outgo.
Finally, getting more and more fit grew entwined with loving, more and more, moving and using my body aerobically and muscularly.
It's a win, win, win situation.
I'm so grateful to SP for the infrastructure. And to you, Nicole for all that you bring to the table.
Maddy Report
Thanks for sharing your fitness plan. It totally works for you.

Then again, some of us like the comfort of a routine and knowing what is scheduled for each day's workout. I really liked when I was training for a 1/2 marathon to have a training schedule and know that today I do XYZ....and then I do it whether I feel like it or not because that is what's on the schedule. Same with strength training, I tend to stick to my routine (although I vary it slightly, add more weight, etc.) because that is what motivates me. Also, unlike you, I like to do my workouts as early as possible during the day because it gets my motor running and also because then that is one thing crossed off my to-do list for the day.

We're all different. Some like the flexibility of doing whatever sounds good on a particular day, others like me can't stick to a routine unless it is "on the books". I basically run 20 miles/week and strength train 2x/week for 30 minutes. Sometimes an elliptical workout to switch things up if the weather is bad. That's it! Report
I like the idea of packing the gym bag and carrying it with me; leaves the decision up to me with little reason not to work out. Thanks. Report
Everyone needs a plan that works for them. I need to get my exercise in first thing in the morning. Running and lifting on alternate days - six days a week and take Sunday off. Report
Tks coach Nicole, if you could, please let us sneak a peek at your eating plan for a week. Report
I love that a picture of Coach Nicole was used for the image. Usually they use a picture of some model and it seems to contradict what the site is about. Report
It looks like a doable routine.I like the fact you are not obcessive about it,and that you give yourself some time off and flexibility.It makes sense to make weekly goals instead of daily goals,as you know, unexpected things can come up during the day, and you may not be able to reach your goals. It gives you time to make it up on another day. Great idea Coach Nicole....thanks!!!! Report
I WISH my fitness routine looked like this! Honestly, I'm lucking if I get 120 minutes in a WEEK. Exercising is so hard for me to start, especially on my own. Report
Unfortunately, I am not as motivated as Nicole when it comes to unscheduled workouts. Therefore, I take advantage of the classes that my gym offers (no additional charge). I take Zumba classes 5 days per week because I love it so much. I do strength training (class) at least twice per week (with barbells), because the training of the instructor is important for me to learn and use proper technique. And another of my classes is a 1/2 hour general cardio workout, that is varied and fun.
I really enjoy the camaraderie of the classes, and find that I am less likely to skip a class than skip an unscheduled machine workout at the gym.
And I walk the dog every night, for at least 15 minutes.
Now if I only was doing a better job on the nutrition end of things........ Report
That's a great workout schedule! I hope one day I can be as dedicated and focused! Report
thanks nicole your blog has really inspired me. Report
thanks, nicole! i always am curious to read what health professionals embrace as their workout "routine" day i would like to switch careers to the health/wellness field! i am glad the flexible factor works for you. it would never work for me - i am a definite pre-planner and need to map out my exercise. i have to have goals that i can work towards, otherwise i feel lost! maybe once i am fit and at goal weight, i will be able to be more flexible in my approach. for now, having a schedule is a must!

and nicole looks absolutely fantastic! thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks so much for sharing the exercises you did. It does help me to see that you-a slim and fit person- don't spend hours and hours in the gym.

I really appreciate how much you reach out to the members of sparkpeople. Your down to earth low-key positive approach is very inspiring! I especially loved the blog you did last year actually showing the inside of your cupboards!

nicole , thanks for sharing I THINK YOUR PLAN IS GREAT! Im a personal trainer and I think we all should be active every day for the people who think this is too much I dont think so for a minute for god sakes start making time to do 30-60mins. of some type of activities that are balanced for your body If you cant get motivated hire a trainer If you can. there is 17 hours out of the day and 30-60 min. to better health is a great idea. stop making excuses believe me once you do it for a while its like second nature. and you will feel better and have a lot more energy if you do. Iv done this for 15 years and I keep going and I will be 50 this year. and I feel and look like Im in my 30s. Report
Thanks, Nicole. This is a very useful example of a balanced and varied workout schedule. Report