Bikini Season Alert! A Personal Trainer Talks Summer Shape Up

New York Health & Racquet Club expert gives us the essentials for getting fit fast.

Taylor Swift Style: How to Emulate the Look!

Right around this time each year, we start to feel both equally excited and filled with dread for what's to come; warmer weather may give our spirits and our skintones a little boost, but along with the sun comes bikini season, which doesn't exactly give us the same fuzzy feeling we get on Christmas morning. Yes, it's officially time to shape up for summer, but for those of us fashion peeps who have barely lifted a cocktail ring-bedecked finger, let alone looked at an elliptical in 7 months, where to start? Luckily, the experts at New York Health & Racquet Club have a few insights that should help you get on the right track. These basic workout tips from NYHRC's personal training manager, Dionne Cross, will get you started on getting bikini-ready asap.

7 Things Every Apartment Renter Should Know

StyleCaster: For people who only have 30 minutes to spend at the gym, what is the most beneficial use of their time?
Dionne Cross: Do a 30-minute circuit that targets every muscle group by starting with a three to five minute warm-up. You can do it two ways:
1. A warm-up where you combine three bodyweight exercises (i.e. squats, push-ups from knees, mountain climbers) into a quick circuit. Do 10 reps of each exercise and repeat two more times. It takes four minutes max!
2. Then cardio warm-ups where you start with one minute easy cardio, one minute moderate, one minute high intensity, one minute moderate, then back to one minute super high intensity. This way you burn fat during the warm-up and afterwards during your circuit training. Keep in mind that you want to boost your endurance and energy level this way so you burn more calories. It also boosts core strength so you can do those tougher weight loss exercises and burn even more calories.

SC: Let's say we're a bit lazy (hey getting to the gym is tough enough!). I know they always say to stretch, but just how important is stretching to our exercise routines? And is there a certain number of minutes that we should be holding each stretch?
DC: It is necessary to stretch before and after exercise to prevent injury. When a person stretches, they allow their muscles to loosen and get prepared for the movements and exercise that will be demanded by the routine. Stretching allows the muscles to move with gentle ease through a wide range of movements and doing so before and after exercise allows the body to gently pull on all the muscles that will be used, or have been used, decreasing the chance of tearing and injury.

You should hold each stretch from anywhere from 30 seconds to 60 seconds focusing on your breathing as you stretch while making sure that the muscles are reviving the proper blood flow and oxygen. Form is also important to keep in mind as you stretch.

A Guy Speaks: What He Learned About Dating From His Sisters

SC: Speaking of form, what are the top five things you see people doing wrong at the gym?
1. Not keeping track of workouts. How can you determine what worked or didn't work if you have no record? Try something, record it, and monitor the results. If it works, keep at it and add more maybe. If it doesn't work, do something different.

2. Setting a specific goal: It's safe to say that having a goal is critical to making measurable gains, yet few of us take the time to visualize it and write it down. If you are just going through the motions then you wont see progress. Having that picture of sleek lean legs in your head is one thing, but make it real by writing it down and putting it on the fridge for friends and family to see and hold you accountable.

3. Not doing the right amount of reps: The standard amount for each exercise is three sets of ten reps. This will do just fine for the first month or two, but if you want to make continued progress things need to change. Mixing up sets and reps within the training week has been conclusively proven to deliver better results. Over three days of training, you could try five sets of five reps, two sets of fifteen and eight sets of three. This results in complete stimulation and development of your muscle fibers, and is also a lot more interesting than doing the same thing day in, day out.

4. Not stretching after the workout: How many of your training days are comprised of climbing aboard the elliptical express and switching your brain off while staring blankly at the screen? Now there's nothing wrong with that occasionally after a killer day at work, but optimal results can only come from 100 percent focus on your workout and striving for a better performance every single time. More often than not you'll get the job done twice as fast and have more time to chill out at home.

5. Having the wrong attitude: This point is the most important. Even if you have the best training program in the world, performed with a half-assed attitude, will not get you anywhere near the results a bad program will get you. If you go into a workout with passion and drive combined with focus and dedication you will win! Consistency and commitment are the great equalizers. So switch off the TV, get yourself a goal, a program and a journal, and end 2010 on a high note.

SC: What about for busy bees? What kind of classes would you recommend for people who want to get the most in the least amount of time?
DC: We have this class called Cardio Sculpt (total body, weights plus cardio work-out) and there's also spinning. These classes are high intensity and help with a full routine. Most classes include the basic elements of workouts such as warm up cardio stretch and moderate weight routines and cool down - the core elements of today's fitness world.

Workout Gear to Get You Motivated For Bikini Season

SC: For beginner gym-goers, how often should they be working out each week to actually start seeing results?
NYHRC: You should workout three to four times a week and you should see results in four to six weeks.

New York Health & Racquet Club is one of the top gyms in New York City, offering full access to its 11 locations in the city for all members of the club. In addition to top quality fitness machines, the facility's amenities include steam sauna pools, massage, personal training, group fitness classes, and access to their 75-foot yacht, beach club, and golf resort.

For more information or to sign up for a membership with NYH&RC, please contact Lovell Ramsey at Membership Services: or call 212.220.0681.

More From StyleCaster:

The Best Street Style From Coachella
Real Style From the Indio Music Festival

7 Things in Your Apartment That Will Scare a Guy Away
Guy-Proof Your Living Space Now!

Eco-Conscious Home Decor Tips
Make Your Living Space Eco-Friendly Without Sacrificing Style

Spring Cleaning Your Closet
What to Toss, Save, and Store!

Best Ways to Beat Seasonal Allergies
Don't Let the Spring Sneeze Ruin The Warm Weather

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook! And download the StyleCaster Daily Looks Widget!

Get StyleCaster on-the-go with our ALL NEW iPhone App!