There’s more than one way to get into shape


Dennis Yslas, below, Carrie Breckenridge, above (with
daughter Charlotte) and Takeshi Fujii, bottom, all
took different routes to achieve their fitness goals.
Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones


There’s no one way to exercise in order to achieve your fitness goals. We asked three different folks with different backgrounds, ages and body types to explain what the benefits of their regimens are — from yoga to CrossFit to P90 — and this is what they said.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Name and age:  Carrie Breckenridge, 37.

Exercise regimen:  Bikram yoga (Bikram Yoga North Texas, Grapevine)

What was your motivation for starting up the regimen when you did?  I wanted to get rid of the post-baby “lack-of-tone” I had going on.

Before you started your regimen, what was your fitness level?  Before starting back with yoga, I had just had a baby — Charlotte, now 15 months. I am not one to get right back into the swing of things after having a baby — I would rather take the time needed to care for her. I initially started yoga in 2003 and fell in love with it. However, once I became pregnant with my first kiddo I stopped practicing (while pregnant) and then picked back up a few months after he was born.  I was rather inconsistent and then I got pregnant with Charlotte and again stopped.

I was nursing, so my workout had to be well-thought-out before I jumped back into the hot yoga room. I ran a few times a week, but nothing consistent. My usual time was about 20 minutes and would go 2.0–2.7 miles, depending on the wind. However, running doesn’t get rid of my stomach area. I knew I needed to tone that area through yoga. I just started back at the Bikram yoga studio, which is a 90-minute long session.

What was your goal? To lose the rest of the flab I had on my stomach area and to get the other benefits from yoga.  Taking 90 minutes for yourself, as a working mom, is tough.  So if I can get in there three days a week, I am doing my body good! I also wanted to tone my arms, legs and butt.
When did you start this regimen? Dec. 15, 2014.

Are you still practicing it?  I am.

Why did you choose Bikram yoga?  I knew the benefits of yoga because I am certified to teach it. I knew that I would be able to get my pre-baby body back because I did it after my son Logan was born. I was in the studio much sooner after my first baby, however; this time I nursed longer and that is what was really important to me — to feed Charlotte vs. losing the weight quickly.
Did you achieve your goals? What were they?  I did — I am a perfectionist, so I would really like to have my size 2, pre-baby body, but I feel much better than I did pre-yoga.

What have been the upsides — or downsides — of exercise? I have much more energy, require less sleep and don’t crave bad food; however, I have issues staying hydrated, so I will get lots of headaches when I first start out from lack of hydration.
Have people noticed your achievements?  People in the yoga room have noticed, but I don’t walk around half-naked outside of the studio, so people in my day-to-day life haven’t really noticed yet.

Was there a dietary/nutritional component?  Fluid intake increased, less alcohol and I tried to eat healthy. I am a fairly healthy eater usually, so this wasn’t that much of a hardship.

How do you plan to keep your current fitness level?  I plan to keep going until I go through my next IVF [in-vitro fertilization] cycle and then I will start back up after I have that baby. The best way to do that is to buy a package that expires. I don’t like to waste money, so I buy it knowing I will go!


ManName and age: Dennis Yslas, 51.

Exercise regimens:  PiYo (a combination of Pilates and yoga), P90 (the restructured and non-extreme version of P90X) and presently doing Insanity MAX:30 — all Team Beachbody programs so I do them at home with a DVD. I also run.

What was your motivation for starting up the regimen when you did?  When I turned 50 in 2013, I felt I needed a way to get healthier and prepare me for something  I had committed to doing: 12 half-marathons in 12 month period.

Before you started, what was your fitness level?  At 50 I was right under 200 lbs., which for a guy standing at 5-foot-8 can look unhealthy. I was running but not fast and my clothes were fitting more than snugly.

What was your fitness goal?  The main focus was to help my joints — that’s why I tried PiYo first. I have always had bad knees and they were only getting worse as a runner. I needed a no- to low-impact workout that I could do to strengthen my joints. After two weeks on the program, my total runtime for a half-marathon went down by 10 minutes and I felt no joint pain after running. I did that for 60 days, then I went into P90 for 90 days. I’m now doing a modified version of the new Shaun T workout, Insanity MAX:30. Since July 2014, I’ve lost a total of 15 lbs. That may not seem like a whole bunch, but my body is better defined now, which means I’m building muscle.

When did you start?  July 2014

How long was it? PiYo, 60 days; P90, 90 days; MAX:30, 60 days when I finish.

What was the routine like?  I don’t like workouts that take an hour! All of these programs start at 30 minutes a day or less (as you progress they get longer). They all have a rest day, which I need. They all have a warmup of a few minutes and then a cooldown after. I am a morning person, so I do my workouts then.

Did you have a workout partner?  I run accountability groups on Facebook, which helps a group of us stay on track. The trainers on the videos are very knowledgeable and pretty motivating! I love having the accountability with people from across the country!  Having someone or a group of people to be accountable to is vital!

What goals did you achieve? I actually exceeded them. My initial goal was to get to 190 lbs.; right now I hover around 182–185 lbs.
What have been the biggest upsides?  Tons more energy, I feel better, I sleep better and I drink my daily meal replacement (Shakeology) to help with my donut addiction!  I actually am able to “cheat” more often than I thought I would, because exercising helps burn the calories I’m eating.

What kind of reactions have you received? People are constantly complimenting me about my weight loss. The funny thing is, most say “I never thought of you as overweight,” but when you define the body people notice!

Was there a dietary/nutritional component?  Yes, Shakeology. Also, managing my food using a program called Portion Fix — container-based eating according to your weight, exercise level, etc.

How do you plan to keep your current fitness level?  The beauty of these programs is, I can return to them at any time. Once I finish MAX:30 I may do the 21 Day Fix, then go back to PiYo.  The programs educate you to help you make good exercise decisions. At 51, I may not be able to keep up with the fit 20something guys in MAX:30, but I modify and keep sweating!


Asian-ManName and age:  Takeshi Fujii, 39.

Exercise regimen:  CrossFit.
What was your motivation for starting up the regimen when you did?  I had a friend who was doing CrossFit and I wanted to try it myself.

Before you started your regimen, what was your fitness level?  I was exercising regularly, including swimming, running, weight training and yoga. I was also certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I was curious about CrossFit since I heard about it in the fitness field, but had never tried it. After starting CrossFit, I realized all the workout I had done for myself up to that point was not as intense and functional as I thought. It took some getting used to, ranging from running sprints to pull-ups. I have been a part of CrossFit community for two years now and I became a coach as well.

When did you start?  January 2013.

What are the benefits of CrossFit?  In general, CrossFit can be anything you want it to be. If you want to lose weight, it can help; if you want to enhance your athletic performance, it can help you; if you want to move better in your daily life, CrossFit can definitely help you. CrossFit is not just a workout — I feel it is a community of people who are interested in making themselves better in terms of their wellness.

Did you have any goals when you took it up?  I didn’t necessarily have a goal when I started CrossFit, though I ended up losing some weight, gaining strength, speed and endurance, along with the coordination and agility required for CrossFit workout. At the beginning, I was just trying to get through the workout as much as I could. As I got better at skills (such as pull-ups and Olympic lifting techniques), I tried to improve my speed, strength and endurance.

Describe what the regimen entails: CrossFit is constantly varied, functional and high-intensity movement. It includes running (long & short distance), rowing, jumping rope, Olympic lifting, weightlifting and body-weight exercises (such as push-ups and squat), depending on the day. CrossFit’s Workout of the Day (WOD) is always different from previous days so that your body is not getting used to one specific way of training. A typical CrossFit class is one hour including warm-up, skill session, WOD and cool down.

Is there a diet component?  It’s not necessarily required, however, as with any exercise regimen, good nutritional intake is a part of improving your health.

What kind of reaction have you received?  I have received not only compliments on my appearance, but people also noticed a more positive outlook in everyday life.

Fujii coaches CrossFit at Lake Highlands Strength and Conditioning, 9850 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 405.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 13, 2015.