Separating Women’s Fitness Facts from Fiction with Courtney Paul and Anna Kaiser

Courtney Paul.
Courtney Paul. Photo credit: Isauro Cairo

Think heavy weights will bulk you up?

“Just like unicorns, mermaids and Medusa, it’s a fitness myth made up by monsters in your dreams,” jokes celebrity trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp instructor Courtney Paul. With that in mind, we turned to Paul and AKT in Motion founder Anna Kaiser to debunk some of the most widely held fitness myths.

No Pain…No Gain
Paul: Pain is the body’s way of saying STOP! In the beginning, your body will send you a message. If you choose to ignore it, the body will try again with a larger message. This larger message may come in the form of injury. Train safely and train smart. You are in your body for hopefully a very long time, so get in tune with it and recognize the difference between a good muscle burn and pain.

The more you sweat, the more calories you burn!

Paul: Just because you sweat a lot during your workout does not necessarily mean you had an amazing training session. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling down. How many times have you sat on a beach sipping high calorie cocktails and sweating more than [during] your morning five mile run? I promise you the run was more beneficial.

You shouldn’t use weights over 3 lbs. 

Kaiser: If you don’t continue to challenge your muscles, you won’t be able to keep your results and you will plateau. By constantly challenging your muscles, you will build more lean muscle, increasing your metabolism, and burning more fat and calories—even when you’re resting.

Taking a day off will set you back.

Kaiser: Actually, calming your central nervous system and sleeping well is just as important for weight loss and muscles’ recovery as working out.

Working out every day will make you lose weight.

Kaiser: If you aren’t watching your alcohol intake and your diet, you may not see any changes at all in your body. What you put in your body is just as important as the energy you expend on a daily basis. One hour of working out is only 4% of your day.

If you gain weight on the scale after weeks/months of weight training, you are fat.
Paul: Whenever you weight train, you gain lean muscle mass. Lean muscle weighs more than fat, so don’t get discouraged by what the scale indicates. Weight training is also a source of inflammation, a well-known cause of water retention, so although numbers don’t lie, your focus should be on how much better your clothing fits and how great your arms and legs look!

Heart rate monitors show you how many calories you burn in a workout.
Paul: The accuracy of heart rate monitors is highly flawed. I hate to be the one to shoot down your high-spirited thoughts of burned calories, but if you really think you disintegrated 500 calories in 45 minutes while lightly jogging to your favorite podcast you couldn’t be more mistaken.

A workout is a workout—It’s all the same.

Kaiser: The way you work out does not just dictate how many calories you burn, it actually creates a specific body shape. If an Olympic swimmer stops swimming and starts running, he will develop a completely different physical build to support the demands of that movement, much like a dancer’s body is very different from a professional cyclist’s.  Make sure you know what your end physical goals are and find a workout that supports them!

Women should not lift heavy weights because doing that “will make you bulky.”

Paul: Cheese, cookies, candy and all the bad decisions you make after that second glass of wine will make you bulky. Women produce estrogen and very small amounts of testosterone—this is why the build is not in muscle form. Honey, check your diet.

Barry’s Bootcamp has two East End locations. The Amagansett location is closed for the season, but the Wainscott location at 352 Montauk Highway is open. 631-537-2668,

AKT classes are offered on summer weekends at Sag Harbor Gym, 1 Bay Street, Sag, Harbor,


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