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"I Got Trim Without the Gym"

FITNESS gave Holly Greenberg, 26, a few simple tools to turn her basement into a workout circuit and to break out of her body rut.

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Holly After
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Holly Before and After

My Goal
In May 2010 I appeared on Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker only to have matchmaker Patti Stanger dismiss me with "Holly, I'm not feeling it. You need to start working out." Ouch! I vowed to get in shape. Then last spring I traded auditioning for musical theater performances for a desk job at a talent agency and moved back home to save money. That meant that instead of going to dance classes, I was sitting all day -- and not just from nine to five but also during my daily four-hour round-trip commute to New York City from the burbs. By the end of the summer, I noticed I was really putting on weight, but I didn't have the money to join a gym and didn't know when I could fit in exercise, because I'm usually gone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. That's when I asked FITNESS for help.

My Moment of Success
FITNESS set me up with a mini home gym plus a life coach to maximize my time and a trainer who made house calls. I found that I had more energy when I woke up an hour early to work out than when I caught the extra shut-eye. My clothes started to fit better after just two weeks, and a month into my new routine I had dropped 10 pounds. Before, I felt as if I lacked the necessary tools to get fit, but now everything I need is in my attitude -- and my basement.

Holly, by the Numbers

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Weight 148 138
Height 5'3" 5'3"
Chest 40" 36"
Waist 30" 28"
Hips 34" 32"
Body fat 29% 25%

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What Worked for Me

Create a tone zone.

The solution to squeezing workouts into my long days and tight budget was to bring the gym to my home. My trainer, Melissa, gave me a checklist of versatile equipment that would cover tons of exercises, and FITNESS provided it.

Suspension-training straps: Rip:60 ($120, including 12 DVDs;

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Must-Have Fitness Tool: Dumbbells

Jillian Michaels Ultimate 25-Pound SpeedWeight ($100,

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Must-Have Fitness Tool: The Step

Jillian Michaels Ultimate 3-in-1 Aerobic Step ($50,

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Must-Have Fitness Tool: Medicine Ball

NordicTrack 6-Pound Medicine Ball ($29,

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Must-Have Fitness Tool: Stability Ball

NordicTrack 55-Cm Exercise Ball ($29,

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Fit in exercise first thing.

Melissa met me twice a week at 6 a.m. for hourlong circuits that alternated cardio, like jumping jacks, with total-body toners like the ones below. Three other days, I did cardio; I started with 20 minutes of walking, adding 10 minutes each week until I hit 40 minutes nonstop.

Weighted-Ball Crunch
Holding a six-pound medicine ball in both hands in front of chest, lie faceup on a stability ball with lower back at its center, knees bent 90 degrees, feet flat on floor. Crunch up, then lower. Do 20 reps.

Squat Thrust Plus
With an eight-pound dumbbell in each hand, squat and place weights on floor in front of toes, palms facing in. Still holding handles, jump feet back into full push-up position, then drive right elbow up to bring dumbbell by ribs; lower. Repeat with left arm. Jump feet forward to hands, stand up and curl weights to shoulders; lower to start. Do 12 to 15 reps.

Stair Hand-Walk
Place hands flat on top of second stair from floor and walk feet back until body is in full push-up position. Walk left hand up to third stair, then right hand. Walk left hand back to second stair, then right hand to complete one rep. Do 20 reps, alternating starting arm.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

My life coach, Jan Brown, had me visualize my dream self two years from now and judge whether my little decisions would get me closer to it. This task has helped me grab a bottle of water, rather than gummy worms, on the way to the train; I'm not hungry, just bored, and those empty calories can keep me from my ideal weight.

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Eat for Energy

Before I started exercising, my usual breakfast was cereal, which just made me hungry for a smoothie on the way to work. Now I eat oatmeal before my workout and a hard-boiled egg right after, and I stay full until lunch.

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Bribe Yourself

I had managed to avoid the treadmill in my parents' basement for months because the room was so dark and uninspiring. I hooked up a cable box to our old TV down there so I can watch music videos to make my exercise time fly by. Also, Jan suggested that for each week I stick to my workouts, I treat myself in a small way -- for instance, with a pedicure or a pair of earrings.

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Get Your Groove Back

Jan gave me the task of finding ways to reincorporate dance into my life, not only to help me burn calories but also to let me reconnect with my passion. My first step was to get a dance workout DVD to help with my cardio exercise.

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Tip Sheet

Step it up. "There are plenty of body-weight exercises you can do using your furniture," says Melissa Shokoufandeh, a master trainer for New York Sports Clubs in Smithtown, New York. "Try decline push-ups with your toes on the couch or triceps dips with a chair."

Ask what-ifs. "Work toward your goals by thinking of what it's costing you not to act," says Jan Brown, a life coach in New York City. "Not being active was costing Holly happiness, health, and confidence. Realizing that made her more apt to exercise."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2012.

Find more body-weight exercises here

Learn more about life coach Jan Brown

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

renee922933 wrote:

If you couldn't afford the Gym how did you afford a basement makeover, equipment and a personal trainer? Please explain. Curves sounds cheaper.

11/7/2013 11:57:24 AM Report Abuse
cmhall26 wrote:

Unfortunately I can't afford a gym or do I have time to walk during the day. Exercise is out of the budget. I would love someone to customize my basement with all the equipt. that I would need to get into shape.

8/30/2013 09:10:34 PM Report Abuse
ypoole wrote:

I would like to see more articles about elderly exercising. Just because one ages doesn't mean we don't have weight problems, too.

8/10/2013 10:25:43 AM Report Abuse
prasadania wrote:

Guess wat.. i hate my life at the moment.. when i go sme whr ppl keep on talking abt my FAT BODDY and dat is so anying.. i wanna loose fat.. but im to set my mind to work out.. but i rele need to do sme thng soon.. i'm soo lost

4/10/2013 02:12:54 PM Report Abuse
nicolelane107 wrote:

I am happy that she got on track but I'd rather read a story about a woman who found her own motivation without Fitness Magazine paying for her to have a support team. That's what inspires me. She should have done it on her own.

8/13/2012 11:54:18 AM Report Abuse
ssouth83 wrote:

Yes,if someone pay for my home gym and personal trainer, I'm sure I would be further along in my weight loss too. Unfortunately, that's not my situation but I have been losing wt and inches by exercising daily at home.

7/8/2012 04:15:17 PM Report Abuse
Charmbella wrote:

Good for you Holly! Well done keep up the good work.

7/8/2012 12:51:15 PM Report Abuse
Schooner11 wrote:

Sounds good but I need more details. You couldn't afford a gym membership but you can afford a life coach and a personal trainer who visits twice a week? How's that work? What's the cost? How can I get that too?

7/7/2012 11:36:29 AM Report Abuse
ni_suu wrote:

I am writing this to help people who don't have budget for a trainer or/and are on budget. I fallow ZUZANA's workouts "ZWOW". They are for free on youtube and she has a facebook page where we all meet. She was one of the cofounders of BODYROCKERS but now she is separated and I like it even better. You definitely will see results and not much of equipment really. MOSTLY BODYWEIGHT MOVES, chair you got at home and so.

7/7/2012 09:50:22 AM Report Abuse
a3984502 wrote:

Right now I am following the Diet Plan for You blog by nutrition specialist Kate Hill. Kate helped me lose weight in a healthy way in few weeks, without starving! You can visit Kate's blog at:

3/24/2012 03:03:28 AM Report Abuse
annemarie.dennis wrote:

You've got to be kidding!!! Only 10 lbs. I can lose that in a week. I know the right foods to eat and the right exercises that work for me. It is the motivation and a support team that I haven't got in place. But I hear that the closer you get to your goal weight the harder it is to lose.

3/13/2012 08:36:13 AM Report Abuse
chaoticchica wrote:

To a certain degree I really like this article. That said she still had the luxury of having somebody else pay for the equipment and the trainer. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for her, but some of us are still working with the budget of a poor economy. Everything I have is second hand and it's not alot but it works. I'm using those with proper diet and a consistent exercise plan to take the pounds away.

3/12/2012 02:27:49 PM Report Abuse

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