Surround Fitness Home


Greetings! My name is Jennifer Katt, though I like Jen Katt best. I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers. I am also a Weight Management Specialist through the American Council on Exercise. Welcome to “Surround Fitness,” and to my website.

Here you will find my growing collection of blogs offering assorted advice and guidance on exercise and nutrition.  My plan is to help people (mainly women over 40) realize a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, working it from all angles—what you eat, how and how much you move, and where you put your energy: thus the “surround fitness” moniker.workout stuff

What Do I Offer? Surround Fitness will create for you a 16-week program of personalized fitness and nutrition training for a healthy sustainable lifestyle. I come to you, with weekly sessions delivered in your home. (read more…)

Giving Back. Another aspect of my “mission” is to work with nonprofit organizations at the community level to help stem the tide of obesity and sedentariness that is engulfing our society and afflicting people of all ages. It is a dream come true, to be able to devote myself full-time to a holistic vision of fitness and also to give back to the community. Please contact me if you know of any speaking or workshop opportunities. My presentations are known for being informative, interactive, and, best of all, fun!

I left a long career as a science writer to become a personal trainer/fitness instructor/nutrition counselor because I wanted to go where—as the writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said—my “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So, here I am, revved up and eager to teach others what I know, even while I continue learning. I hope you will become a regular visitor to my site!

–Keep moving, Jen Katt


Please contact me for a free fitness and nutrition consultation. I can design a program for you that uses science-based principles and incorporates cardio, resistance, and flexibility elements to address your specific goals. 


Working Out Away from Home—Better than Before

Remember when the hotel “fitness room” was a sad little place akin to the mandated but forgotten tot lot in a planned community? One creaky stationary bike, a wobbly treadmill, and sometimes a scruffy mat and mismatched dumbbells? Well, we’ve come a long way, baby!

Nowadays, because so many of us have embraced a fitness lifestyle, hotels are one-upping each other to provide better fitness equipment and access to services. The number of hotels offering an exercise room or fitness facility has grown from 63% in 2004 to 85% in 2016, according to the 2016 Lodging Survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Giving passes to nearby facilities is also on the rise. I recently sojourned at a modest (ahem) Days Inn that nonetheless gave me access to a beautiful Gold’s Gym right across the street!

As a Washington Post lifestyle article noted in May, among the newest trends are in-room fitness options, such as Hilton’s “Five Feet to Fitness” rooms. These rooms, which cost between $45 and $90 above standard prices, include about a dozen pieces of equipment right in the room, along with a fitness “kiosk” with touch-screen access to 200+ videos featuring cycling, high-intensity interval training, and yoga classes. Snazzy!

For those of more modest means (like me) who still want to work out in-room, consider the guest “fitness kit.”  My friend and client says this about his experience with the Omni in Charlottesville:

“For many years, my wife and I have attended the annual Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, always staying at the wonderful Omni hotel, where many festival sessions are also held. Since we’re once-yearly Omni regulars, we joined the free Select Guest program. Among its benefits is the ability to register my preference for a well-stocked fitness kit for in-room exercise (see pictures to left), nicely supplementing the well-equipped fitness center with multiple treadmills and other professional-grade equipment (pictures above). Both are free. Another always-pleasant aspect of these stays is the hotel’s Loyalty Ambassador, a staffer who contacts guests shortly before arrival to convey a welcome message and ensure a pleasant customized experience; for me, this raises Omni above other hotel visits.”

Cool, huh?  Have you had a good fitness experience on the road?  What was it?  Next time you book your trip, ask about the hotel’s fitness options. It may simplify your choice and prompt you to work out while away.

–Keep moving, Jen

Beyond FitBit: Welcome in the “Wireless Body-Area-Network”

Photo credit: Ron Aira

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing researcher Vivian Motti, assistant professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering. Ms. Motti has joined up with colleagues at Dartmouth and Clemson to develop the “Amulet bracelet,” a wearable mobile health device that is more high-tech than the popular ones today. She says the bracelet acts as a “hub,” interacting with other mobile sensors and aggregating a person’s health information for multiple potential uses, including analysis by health professionals. The research emphasis is on optimizing methods for collecting and using data to reduce battery drain, to enhance synchronizing functions, and to make it easier for wearers to understand and use the information their bodies provide—all while enhancing controls on privacy and data sharing.

Below is a summary of our interview:

Q. Can you tell me more about how the “Amulet bracelet” works and how it began?
R. Our research project began with the purpose of helping people with smoking cessation and behavior change. However, we faced challenges with the nicotine sensors and detection of behavior patterns, so we switched our emphasis to stress management, an area in which we currently have pilot studies going on, including with obese and overweight individuals.

Q. How could your bracelet help people struggling with weight?
R. This technology can collect data essential to any number of medical conditions with a behavioral component, including overeating, stress, and many chronic diseases. The collected data can help individuals and medical professionals better understand a person’s emotional states and correlate that with related data, including environmental triggers.

Q. How did you get into the field of “wearables?”
R. I always had a multidisciplinary academic interest. My background is in biomedical informatics, and bringing technological solutions closer to users to meet their specific needs is my main research goal. I was fortunate to take an elective course on human-computer interaction in my last year of undergraduate studies, which ignited my interest in considering human factors when developing technological solutions. From there, I earned my masters degree in computer science and did my post-doc in wearable health technology.

Q. Why do you think this type of technology is so popular today?
R. I think there will always be people who just want the latest technology. Others seek greater awareness about their health or a specific medical condition. Our aim is to help patients understand what is going on and be more proactive in their own health care, which in turn supports more successful interventions. I think of wearables as a means of preventing disease and of helping people modify their behaviors to hopefully achieve a healthier lifestyle. For healthcare practitioners, this and similar technologies can give them more aggregated data to personalize treatments and better tailor services to their patients.

Coda from Jen: I believe this kind of wireless “body-area network” can empower users with the information they need to potentially improve their behaviors, also giving doctors more data to better tailor interventions and personalize medical treatments. Moreover, in this time when people with chronic conditions drive 84% of national health care dollars and 99% of Medicare spending, we need to embrace technology that will improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency. And since obesity is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, etc., helping overweight and obese individuals change risky behaviors and improve metabolic health and fitness is a worthy goal that can greatly improve their quality of life and benefit society as a whole.

–Keep moving, Jen