Nicole Nichols (COACH_NICOLE)

A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as “Coach Nicole.” Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.


Read More of Nicole's Blogs:

6 Spin Essentials to Get You Through Your Next Class

I have had a strong and unwavering love of indoor cycling ever since I took my first class many years ago. If you're opposed to exercising outside or dread the treadmill, cycling class is a perfect way to get a dynamic cardio workout indoors.

I teach at a gym where a lot of serious cyclists train. They take the class when the weather is too bad to train outside, and they are easy to pick out of the crowd with their cycling shoes, padded bike shorts and jerseys, logoed water bottles, watches and bandanas. This can be an intimidating sight for any class newbie.

Technically speaking, though, you don't need anything special for an indoor cycling class. Standard workout clothes, a hard-soled pair of athletic shoes and a water bottle will do just fine. However, there are a few extras you could consider purchasing in order to make your ride more comfortable—and keep you coming back for more.  

Posted 1/26/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 81 comments   199,003 views

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The 100 Best Workout Songs from the '80s

Today, I am happy to deliver the mother of all '80s music lists: 100 awesome '80s hits that are perfect for exercising.

There's a lot of variety here, from dance and pop hits to a little rap and rock. These are truly the best '80s workout songs of all time.

After I created this top 100 list, I asked members of SparkPeople.com, America's #1 weight loss and fitness website, to vote on their favorites, too. Find out which song took the top spot and whether your favorites made the list, and how you can download a brand new 60-minute cardio workout mix of the top 15 songs (as voted on by exercisers like you)!

Go ahead and make a new mixtape--er, I mean update your iPod or mp3 player--with a blast from the past using these "made in the '80s" tunes next time you exercise.

Posted 6/5/2017  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 443 comments   1,050,857 views

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You Asked: As a Beginner, How Often (and How Far) Should I Walk?

Walking is an excellent way to start getting fit because it costs little to nothing and can be done almost anywhere and by just about anyone. (Learn more about the health and fitness benefits of walking.) So how do you begin with a walking program? Here are a few do's and don'ts to get you started.

Posted 5/1/2017  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 35 comments   378,162 views

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10 Helpful Items to Take on a Spring Hike

Last Sunday, I reveled in the first day of spring by going for a hike at a nearby park. It was sunny and 60 degrees—perfect hiking weather! I'm always a little nervous when I hit the trail by myself because you never know what could happen. That's why it's best to come prepared.

Whether you're heading out for a few hours or a few days, there are a few essentials that I never leave home without. These items make the trail so much happier. 

Posted 4/27/2017  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 109 comments   158,613 views

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These Are the Most Motivating Workout Songs of All Time

When it comes to motivational workout music, everyone likes something different. I know people who love to run to instrumental music, otherwise seemingly innocent friends who exercise to hardcore rap and people whose musical tastes in "real" life don't match up with the songs that inspire them to work out.

Personally, I like a huge mix. For me, almost anything that's catchy and has a good beat will work. But sometimes, you need something better than that. Sometimes you need the motivation to get off the couch, or go the extra mile, or push through that heavier lift, or muscle through your first marathon. When you really need a boost, what you need is an inspirational work out song.

Our editors and fitness experts compiled a list—128 songs to be exact—of songs that have fast beats worthy of exercising to, but also have motivational messages and lyrics.

Posted 3/18/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 255 comments   2,038,573 views

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The Top 100 Running Songs of All Time

As a runner, I often turn to music to keep me entertained and motivated during my training runs and races. I love discovering new running songs (even if "new" only means "new to me"), listening to them, and sharing them with others via my blog posts and Facebook page.

I recently asked people to share their favorite running songs, then created a list of 100 titles, new and old, that keep us on our feet and on pace. List in hand, I asked members of SparkPeople.com, America's #1 weight loss and fitness website, to vote on their favorites, too.

Find out which song took the tittle of best running song, whether your favorite made the list, and how you can download a brand new 60-minute running mix of the top 12 songs (as voted on by runners like you)!

Posted 12/8/2016  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 260 comments   4,959,516 views

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10 Questions with Walking Guru Leslie Sansone

Leslie Sansone really walks the walk. For 27 years, she has helped people get in shape by putting one foot in front of the other. Best known for her "Walk At Home" and "Walk Away the Pounds" fitness DVDs, she truly is America's fitness-walking authority. I recently was given the opportunity to interview Leslie via email, and the passion in her answers jumped off the screen.

Read on to see Leslie's answers to member-submitted questions, her #1 secret to keeping her walks fun and interesting, and her top 5 tips to starting a solid walking program.

Posted 11/4/2015  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 224 comments   202,825 views

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Why You Should Have an Affair at the Gym

You put on your sweatpants and baggy T-shirt. Throw your hair up into a ponytail and wipe the make-up off your face. You fill your water bottle and head to the nearest elliptical. Headphones in, you tune out the world, focusing on the show you're watching or that new song you downloaded. You set your sights on the console and the clock, watching the numbers—calories, time, and distance—tick up until you've hit your goal on one (or maybe all three). Get in and get out, that's what the gym is to you. You're not there to talk or make friends. You're just there to get through your routine and go home.

But what if I told you that going to the gym could—and should—be a little more fulfilling? The truth is that having an affair at the gym happens more than you might think. It can change your mind and your body—and how you feel about yourself. If you've been going through the motions lately, feeling uninspired or tied down, then break free from monogamy and bring the excitement back with an affair!

Posted 4/1/2015  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 87 comments   148,370 views

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The 100 Best Workout Songs of 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year...the time when we release the best booty-shaking, iron-pumping, fat-burning songs you exercised to during the past year.
For the past 12 months, we compiled a list of new and popular songs worth working out to. Then we asked members of SparkPeople.com, America's #1 weight-loss and fitness website, to vote on their favorites.

Find out which song most people worked out to this past year,  whether any of your own favorites made the list, and how you can download a brand new 60-minute cardio remix of the top 15 songs (as voted on by exercisers like you)! 

Posted 12/19/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 30 comments   304,286 views

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10 Trainer Tips That Will Transform Your Body

In 2011, I was both shocked and honored to be named America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch in the first-ever contest of its kind, which was run by Life Fitness and the American Council on Exercise, and I have continued to be involved as a judge and consultant for the contest in recent years. It has expanded outside of America to search for and name the best trainers across the globe. A few weeks ago, Life Fitness crowned 2014's top personal trainers to watch and a new winner in yet another amazing competition.
 
I recent caught up with the top 10 finalists (and the winner himself)—the crème de la crème of fitness pros—to share their best exercise tips with you! From time-saving exercise techniques to the best workout you can do when you're short on time, these must-read ideas are like consulting with the most inspiring and credible fitness trainers around the world without leaving home.

Posted 11/12/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 37 comments   250,393 views

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People 'Half Their Size' Issue Features SparkPeople Member's 177-Pound Weight Loss *

People magazine has just released a new "Half Their Size" issue, and this one is bigger and better than ever. The entire publication is dedicated to weight loss and featured some amazing success stories along with various diet plans, workout plans and healthy recipes for ideas and inspiration.
 
We are thrilled to announce that a long-time SparkPeople member, Brandy (BBANGEL1214), is featured in the issue. Brandy credits the supportive online Community at SparkPeople as making a big difference in her 177-pound weight loss. Way to go, Brandy!
 
We recently caught up with Brandy to celebrate her magazine debut. Here's what shared some tips from her journey to losing more than half her weight.

Posted 6/6/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 49 comments   52,659 views

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New & Improved SparkRecipes App for iPad

Several weeks ago, we released a much-anticipated update to our Healthy Recipes app for the iPhone. Today, we are excited to share that these same improvements are now available for the iPad version of our app! We are particularly thrilled about this update because iPads are such great tools to use in the kitchen when searching for and following recipes.

Posted 6/5/2014  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 6 comments   16,641 views

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Get in Shape with a New Workout Set from SparkPeople

Good afternoon, SparkPeople!
 
I hope you are enjoying this spring weather as much as we are here in Cincinnati! I love the changing seasons because it always inspires me to change lots of things in life: my wardrobe, my attitude and even my workouts.
 
If you're looking to change up your exercise routine, I've got some great news for you!  

Posted 5/19/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 9 comments   28,526 views

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SparkPeople's Diet & Fitness Tracker App: Now Free At Last!

UPDATE 5/6/14
Today we released all of these awesome updates for the Android version of our app. Click here to download the brand new app on your Android device. (Original blog post below has been edited to reflect this.)

UPDATE 4/9/14: It's here!

After months of teamwork, SparkPeople is thrilled to offer you an improved version of our popular Diet & Fitness Tracker app (now renamed Calorie Counter & Weight Loss App)--for FREE. Our mission has always been to SPARK millions of PEOPLE to reach their goals and lead healthier lives, and we believe that offering our best food and fitness tracking tools in a free app will help more people than ever before.
 
As of today, our app is free for all Apple (iPhone and iPad) and Android users. You can download the app using the links below (or search for "SparkPeople" in your mobile phone's app store). And to sweeten the deal even more, you'll get 250 SparkPoints* just for downloading the app!

Posted 5/6/2014  4:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 72 comments   79,041 views

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Get 'The Spark Solution' in Paperback—and Get in Shape for Summer!

Great news! Our popular book "The Spark Solution" is now available in paperback, which means you can snag what U.S. News & World Report named one of the "Best Diets" around at an everyday low price! (And when you purchase the book, you'll earn 500 bonus SparkPoints—WooHoo!)

Posted 5/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 2 comments   23,046 views

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