Coach Nicole Nichols is a Fitness expert and Editor for SparkPeople.com, America’s #1 diet & fitness site. She’s known for her approachable style that makes working out fun and accessible for all. Nicole has a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and education, specializing in exercise and fitness. Nicole maintains several fitness certifications, including ACE Personal Training and AFAA Group Fitness Instruction. Coach Nicole just released SparkPeople 28 Day Bootcamp by Acacia.
Belles: What can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in the fitness industry?
Coach Nicole: For as long as I can remember, I was interested in health and fitness, but mostly as a hobby. I started out my college education as an art/design major, but switched to health and fitness three years into college. I knew I wanted to do something to help people and that I was passionate about healthy living. My goal was to be a fitness writer, so landing a writing/editing gig at SparkPeople.com while still in college was a dream come true. In college I started working part-time as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and I still train groups and individuals as my second job because I love it so much. My background in fitness and my job at SparkPeople led me to creating more than 50 free workout videos for YouTube that have been viewed more than 15 million times to date, all of which led to the creation of our most recent DVD “SparkPeople: 28 Day Boot Camp.”
Belles: Motivation and support are attributable factors in achieving successful and lasting results when on a weight loss journey. You are a favorite on SparkPeople, what do you find works best to motivate people?
Coach Nicole: It has to be fun and enjoyable. I will only do workouts that I actually like to do. I would never tell someone to exercise in a way that gets better results or burns the most calories if they are going to hate it. The only workout you will ever stick with is one that you want to do or can get excited about. Similarly, you have to change things up to keep your program fresh and interesting. If it’s starting to feel old, try something new—that goes for fitness and food.
Belles: Having helped may people through SparkPeople, what do you find is the best piece of advice for someone just starting their journey?
Coach Nicole: Be realistic and start small. People want to take the weight off overnight even though they slowly gained it all over a decade. Or they hope to pull weight-loss numbers like they see on “The Biggest Loser.” That’s not reality, and it’s not realistic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complaining about losing “only” a pound in a week. A pound is awesome and it’s progress! If you set your sights on losing a pound, you’d be ecstatic. It’s when you set your goals to lose 8 pounds a week and don’t reach it that you lose motivation.
More specifically, I’d say the best dietary change you can make is to start tracking your food—diligently. It will be so eye opening for you that you’ll learn to (and be motivated to) make even more changes to improve your diet than if you just applied a bunch of diet rules to yourself. Fitness-wise, I’d say it’s all about making it a habit. Just 10-20 minutes most days of the week will help you do that. Put it on your calendar like an appointment, not an afterthought.
Belles: For the readers that are not familiar with SparkPeople, what can you tell us about the plethora of fantastic advice, support and tools they can find on the site?
Coach Nicole: So much! SparkPeople.com is the #1 ranked weight-loss and healthy living website in America. We have more than 11 million members worldwide taking advantage of our 100% free tools, content and community features. We have so many amazing cool things that it’s hard to even begin a short list, but here are a few of the things you can access when you create your free account: a personalized diet and nutrition plan, free food and fitness trackers, hundreds of workout ideas, tons of different newsletters on just about any topic, recipes and recipe tool that allows you to calculate the calorie and nutrition facts in any recipe you make, support from the most positive community on the internet—people just like you and our very own experts. That’s just a start. We even have free mobile apps, workout videos, 5K training plans, and SO MUCH MORE. You just have to check it out to see for yourself!
Belles: You just released the 28 Day Boot Camp workout for Sparkpeople through Acacia. What can you tell us about the DVD making experience?
Coach Nicole: It made me feel like a real rockstar! The experience was intense, but it was very fun, too. I love teaching fitness and creating workouts, so it was a fun project for me. But it was a lot of work for many months on end to create the workouts, finalize them, practice them for many weeks (which not only makes for a good shoot but also conditions you for 12-hour days of exercising on set). I put a lot of thought into these workouts and wanted to make them as fun and universally appealing as possible. They are by far the best workouts I’ve ever designed!
Belles: You were recently voted, Americas #1 Fan Favorite Personal Trainer to Watch (psst…we voted for you). What did you do when you found out you won? How did it make you feel?
Coach Nicole: Thank you so much! I’m amazed at how many people voted in that competition and I was very excited to win the honor. I think it really shows the power of SparkPeople’s supportive community who have really embraced me as their fitness trainer since the first YouTube video I ever shot in the corner of our office. It was a great feeling and I was very excited for it. The competition ended at midnight on a weeknight, and I was up watching the votes from the edge of my seat all evening long hoping to take the honor. I’m pretty sure I did a huge happy dance and then was so excited that I couldn’t sleep very well despite it being so late at night. In general, I hope this shows a shift in fitness training. I’m a normal person who likes to exercise and I can’t wash laundry on my abs like some other trainers. I think people respond to and are motivated by a friendly exercise instructor who’s just like them, and that’s exactly who I am!
Belles: Do you have any plans to make any future DVDs?
Coach Nicole: I think I am allowed to say that I have a second DVD with Acacia that will be released later this year. We actually shot it at the same time as 28 Day Boot Camp. In fact, I just saw the first cover design for it today and I just can’t wait for its release to get here. I love creating workouts and I put a lot of time, thought and effort into them, so I would love to do more DVDs!