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How to Start Swimming as an Adult (and Why You Should Jump In)

Wanna go for a swim? If that question just left you feeling mildly (or highly) panicked, you’re definitely not the only one. While lots of people are perfectly comfortable bobbing around in the shallow end, the Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one third of adults in the U.S. cannot swim the length […]


Wanna go for a swim?

If that question just left you feeling mildly (or highly) panicked, you’re definitely not the only one. While lots of people are perfectly comfortable bobbing around in the shallow end, the Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one third of adults in the U.S. cannot swim the length of a pool.

As someone who could literally swim before I could walk, I can’t tell you how much this breaks my heart. Not only because it’s dangerous and scary, although that’s certainly a huge factor. (I mean, 10 people drown every single day in the U.S. alone.) But also, oh, you guys — if you have no idea what it feels like to glide through the water on a hot day, and if you’ve never experienced the pure joy of jumping into a pool with no purpose but to create the biggest splash possible, you’re missing out on one of life’s simplest pleasures.

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Also? Swimming is a hell of a workout, and it’s one that many adults are able to continue long into their senior years as higher-impact activities become troublesome.

I actually feel strongly enough about this that I recently got certified as an Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor with U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS), and, because April is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month, I wanted to share a few ways to get started swimming, regardless of your current ability level — and address a few common complaints I hear all too often.

How to Start Swimming as an Adult

Suit up. You don’t need anything too fancy, but you will want a swimsuit that stays in place with some movement (which means that wicked cute strapless push-up bikini top is not an ideal choice), goggles, and, unless your hair is very closely cropped, a swim cap. Pro tip: If your hair is long-ish, braid it before tucking it up in the cap. It’ll make it easier to manage when you put the cap on, plus it’ll be far less tangled after the fact.

Find a pool. If you have a swimming background and just haven’t been in the water in … forever, then maybe all you’re lacking is access. Lots of gyms and fitness centers have lap swimming, although if you’re considering a membership somewhere new specifically for the pool, I’d recommend asking specifically about their lap swim times, as some only have a few lanes and may dedicate them to other aquatic classes fairly regularly. Make sure ahead of time that you’ll be able to swim laps when it works for your schedule.

Find a class or instructor. If you’re afraid of the water or truly don’t know how to swim, working with an instructor or joining a class specifically designed for brand new adult swimmers is absolutely the best choice. I know I’m biased, but I think USMS is a really solid resource. You can easily search for instructors with the Adult Learn-to-Swim Certification in your area. You could also reach out to your local YMCA and any public pools, as they’re likely to have information on current or upcoming programs that would be a good fit for you.

Find a coach or a club. If you have no problem cranking out enough laps to constitute a workout but know you’ve got room to improve, well, let me tell you from experience that joining a local club just might rock your world. I honestly thought I was pretty good — I was able to hang with reasonably speedy swimmers in my first couple triathlons, at least for the first half of the swim. But after just a few classes where I swam with a masters club and got actual instruction, I realized how far off my form had been. (Turns out, you want your face FULLY in the water. Like, all the time!) Swimming became easier, faster, and far more fun. Plus, swimming with a group (and, swimming with a planned workout — more on that in a sec) is a million times more motivating than swimming alone. And I say that as someone who loves to swim!

Complaints? Lay ‘Em on Me

I’ve heard them all — and, honestly, probably used one or two myself back in the day. If I don’t hit up your specific concern, drop it in the comments and I’ll help you with a solution!

Swimming is too hard. Well, yeah — if you don’t do it much, it probably is pretty taxing. It’s a full-body workout, it uses muscles you don’t use and in ways that are pretty unfamiliar. But when you do it more (and do it properly), it becomes easier — fast. Don’t worry about how many laps you can do in a row to start — that’s really not how swimming is measured outside of a race. Focus on learning and using good form and getting in the water consistently, and you’ll be racking up yards in no time. I promise.

It’s boring. I acknowledge that it’s a repetitive movement (but hey, so is running, so is cycling …), and sure, that line at the bottom of the pool doesn’t offer a ton in terms of thrilling scenery. Unless, of course, you happen to share a lane with Aquaman, am I right? 

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But I will also argue that a swimming workout can be anything but boring! Here are a few tips:

  • Have a plan — and some variety. I never show up at the pool with a goal of getting in and just swimming for 2,000 yards. Because, yeah, that’s dull. Instead, I have a warm up (usually 300 swim, 200 pull, 100 kick, 4×50 drill/swim), I have a main set that incorporates drills and speed work on various intervals. I do some 50 yard sprints, I do some easy 200s. Maybe I even add some different strokes in. Breaking up the workout makes it easier to focus on what I’m doing in the moment. (Plus, let’s be real — it’s the only way I’m ever gonna keep track of how far I’ve gone!) You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, either — if you don’t have a workout in mind, check out one of these.
  • Play with toys. Kickboards, pull buoys, paddles, fins, snorkels — these have specific uses to help you with your form, and also help serve the same purpose as above with breaking up the workout. Plus, they force you to focus on certain muscle groups, allowing you to give other muscles a bit of a break. Also? Toys are fun. They are!
  • Try some tech. There are loads of cool options out there if you feel like exploring the world of swimming technology. There are watches that track your laps and provide feedback on your stroke (and no, they won’t take the place of a coach on deck, but feedback can certainly help!), devices that whisper your heart rate in your ear, and you can even swim to your favorite tunes. None of this is necessary, of course — but if you find it fun and it helps you spend a little more time in the water, go for it!
  • Join a group. I realize I recommended this already, but I’m dropping it here because it’s so pertinent to the boredom issue. I swim harder, farther, and with far more joy when I hop in the pool with other swimmers for a workout. You don’t have time to get bored if you’re trying to keep up with the rest of your lane!
  • Change your environment. If you always swim at the same 25-yard pool (which is the standard length you’ll find for lap pools), ask around to see if there are any long-course (50-meter) options near you. It’s a really different experience! And if you have access to open water, look for groups conducting group swims, or form your own group and get out there.

I’m not old/not fast/not serious, so I’m not joining a masters team. Okay, “masters” just means that you’re over 18 — and, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t make you “old.” I’ve been lucky enough to swim with a few different teams, and each of them has included members of all different ages and speeds — and everybody’s there with their own goals, coming from all kinds of backgrounds. Lots of people swim masters and never go to a swim meet, although you just might realize you love competing. Basically, in my experience, joining a masters group has been the easiest (and most cost-effective) way to swim in an organized group. You might have other options near you — I just urge you to consider masters as you search for your tribe.

I’m a triathlete, so I don’t need to learn all the strokes they make you do in masters. So many triathletes just view the swim as something they need to get through in order to do the sports they’re competitive in. And it’s true, you don’t need to know how to swim a perfect breaststroke in order to complete an Ironman. However, spending more time in the pool is great cross training, and do you even know how much easier the rest of the race feels when you haven’t used up a huge amount of energy on the first (and shortest) part of the race? Also, I’ve never had a coach force me to do a specific stroke (although they’ve all been willing to help me work on them). If you only want to work on freestyle, I bet you can find a coach, club or class that’ll work with that.

I’m uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit in public. This is a tough one, because while I know in my heart that fit bottoms come in every single shape and size, I also know that so many of us have a whole lotta feeeeelings around wearing a bathing suit. All I can offer you is this: You deserve to be there. You have the right to show up at the pool, get in a lane, and do your workout. Nobody’s workout — no matter how fit or fast they might seem — is more important than yours. NOBODY’S. If it helps, ask a friend to join you as you get in, even if they aren’t going to swim.

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Moral support is the bomb, yo.

Remember, the more you go, the more comfortable you’ll feel. And, my darling, nobody is judging you the way you’re judging you. Guaranteed.

Did you love to swim as a kid? What’s keeping you out of the pool as an adult? Even if you’re not sure you want to swim just yet, you can still get a heck of a water workout with these techniquesKristen



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6 Ways to Make Old Exercises New and More Effective

Getting in a routine at the gym is fantastic … until it’s not. On the one hand, knowing what you’re doing — and being able to do it with confidence — rocks. via GIPHY But on the other hand, getting comfortable with what you’re doing can lead to complacency. And that’s not the way to […]


Getting in a routine at the gym is fantastic … until it’s not.

On the one hand, knowing what you’re doing — and being able to do it with confidence — rocks.

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But on the other hand, getting comfortable with what you’re doing can lead to complacency. And that’s not the way to improve your fitness. Gotta keep those muscles guessing!

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So today, we’re sharing a few tips for mixing up your workouts without reinventing the wheel from Bryan Forsing, a certified personal trainer from Anytime Fitness.

1. Try supersets.

“Supersets are great for burning more calories, without adding weight,” says Forsing. In case this is Greek to you, a superset combines two exercises using opposing muscles, done back-to-back, like a bicep exercise followed by triceps, or a leg extension followed immediately by a leg curl. And yes, immediately means no rest in between the exercises!

2. Add a move.

Got your plank nailed down? Add something to increase the level of difficulty or number of muscles worked. “Try kicking up a traditional plank by adding a move such as a one-arm row, a leg lift, hip tilt, or leg twist,” says Forsing. Or, if you’re used to doing a straight crunch on the stability ball, try going to the side to hit your obliques. Lift one leg to decrease stability. You get the picture — be creative!

3. Move your feet.

Sometimes, just a slight change of stance will really change up the muscles worked. Take, for example, calf raises. Try them with your feet facing straight ahead, and then try at an angle — both facing outward and in. Feel the difference? A key here, though, is to continue to focus on safety, so always keep your knees aligned without going out over your foot. The same safety rules that apply to a basic move still apply when you change your position.

4. Switch it up.

Adding weight, instability or even reversing a motion can all be great ways to mix things up. “Variations of standard lunges, such as adding a barbell or trying out a reverse lunge are great for restarting that muscle burn, says Forsing, suggesting that beginners start in a forward position with no added weight, then add a barbell behind the neck, keeping the head back — making a double chin will help hold your head back. “Now you’ve changed your center of gravity to activate your core,” he says.

5. Walk the other way.

“Going in a backward motion on an elliptical or trying out a direction change on the treadmill is an effective way to activate your hamstrings and glutes,” says Forsing. Go forward for about five minutes, then back for about five, maybe 15 to 20 min total. You can throw some sideways steps in there, too!

6. Add variety.

If you have a standard cardio routine, try varying your intensity, speed, incline, or interval length on the treadmill, or build a simple circuit using a few machines, suggests Forsing. But remember, if you’re switching machines, you should transition quickly to maintain an elevated heart rate. Change speed, intensity, incline on the treadmill, do intervals with hard efforts, then easier ones.

If you have a regular circuit — either cardio or strength — that you go to, change it up in anyway you see fit. “Even just do everything you’ve always done and do it backward,” says Forsing. “It changes which muscles fatigue first,” and that changes how hard different muscles work in the beginning of the workout and at the end.

Are you good about changing up your workout? I am with most things, but if I’m leading myself in a yoga flow, I really struggle to change up the order. I’m just so used to what I always do! Kristen



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4 Ways to Ease Your Sciatica Naturally

If you’ve ever experience sciatica pain then you know that it’s pretty much the worst. But do you know what’s really causing? Today Dylan Jawahir, founder and CEO of Battle Balm — a natural plant-based topical pain reliever — is giving us the scoop on a possible hidden reason for this pain. (And if you want to […]


If you’ve ever experience sciatica pain then you know that it’s pretty much the worst. But do you know what’s really causing? Today Dylan Jawahir, founder and CEO of Battle Balm — a natural plant-based topical pain reliever — is giving us the scoop on a possible hidden reason for this pain. (And if you want to read more about Dylan — he’s amazing! — be sure to read our interviews with him here and here!)

Your Sciatica Could Literally Be a Pain in the Butt

The new year has arrived and you’re feeling motivated to become the best possible version of yourself. Now is the time for a new and even better you! You’re ready to start 2018 in a healthy way by getting in shape and being more active.

Nothing can hold you back, right?

… Until your nagging sciatic pain returns. It occasionally shoots down your leg when you’re sitting on the couch. It surprises you on your daily walk with friends. Sometimes, it jolts you right as you’re headed out the door for a workout. It’s unpredictable, painful, and keeps you on high alert.

You know this could be your happiest and healthiest year ever, but dragging your bum leg around isn’t the workout routine you imagined.

Let’s talk briefly about the culprit behind your pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It begins in the lumbosacral area, or lower back, and winds its way down through the pelvis, behind the femur and eventually stretches far enough to tickle your big toe. Sciatic pain comes from impingement, damage, or degeneration to the sciatic nerve somewhere along that route.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Many people (including doctors) point to the lumbar spine as the source of all sciatic pain. Our spine compresses as we get older and thus, it makes sense that some of the nerves exiting the spinal column can be squeezed enough to send shock waves into the affected leg. The truth is that there is another likely source of sciatica: the tight muscles in your butt!

The sciatic nerve travels deep to the gluteus muscle group on its way down the leg. These gluteus muscles, also called the glutes, are the visible ones that give shape to your butt. Their function is to externally rotate and extend the upper leg. Underneath the glutes lie other, smaller muscles that assist in the external rotation. One small muscle in particular can be tight enough to irritate the nerve in question sending pain downward towards the feet. This is the piriformis muscle. It bothers the sciatic nerve in so many folks that this relationship has a name: piriformis syndrome.

Symptoms of piriformis syndrome are very similar to sciatica, hence the common confusion. The difference is that you can treat piriformis syndrome and send your pain away quickly.

4 Ways to Ease Your Sciatica Naturally

1. Get a butt massage. It sounds weird, doesn’t it? Your glutes are some of the hardest working muscles in your body. They are working for you non-stop and have more than earned a day of pampering. A butt massage can improve range of motion in your hips and as a bonus, it can alleviate chronic low back pain.

2. Stretch. One of the best stretches for the piriformis and other external rotators of the hip is pigeon pose in yoga. This stretch, when done properly, will elongate all of the junk in the trunk and give you your flexibility back. Regular stretching improves blood flow, too!

3. Trigger those points. Use a foam roller and roll out your butt. Make sure to roll out gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and piriformis. To balance out the hips, roll the gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae. Tune in to YouTube for some great videos with step-by-step tutorials to roll all of these muscles effectively.

4. Call Suzanne Somers. She was on to something with the Thighmaster. Humans are designed to forcefully externally rotate the hip. Internal rotation is a different story. The Thighmaster is for strengthening the normally weak internal rotator muscles. These muscles that close your thighs together will facilitate proper hip joint stability once they are strengthened adequately. Though a Thighmaster is great, you could also get away with using a rubber kickball from the toy store. Find a comfy chair to sit in, place it between your knees, and squeeze away.

These ideas and practices are great, not only for sciatica due to piriformis syndrome, but they are perfect for including in your workout and recovery routine as a preventive measure! —Dylan Jawahir



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The Best Dumbbell Exercises for Your Chest

It’s amazing to me how much fitness equipment is out there now. Just yesterday, I had a call with a start-up company that has designed a new piece of equipment which they’ve asked me to test drive. On one hand, I love all the enthusiasm and innovation in the fitness industry. On the other hand, […]


It’s amazing to me how much fitness equipment is out there now. Just yesterday, I had a call with a start-up company that has designed a new piece of equipment which they’ve asked me to test drive.

On one hand, I love all the enthusiasm and innovation in the fitness industry. On the other hand, it’s no wonder so many people feel lost and overwhelmed when it comes to working out.

If you like all the whiz-bang fitness gadgetry, no problem — and rock on with yo’ bad self. But if you feel completely bewildered by the huge number of options out there, listen up. If you’ve read my posts on this site before, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of simplicity. So I’m revisiting the good ol’ dumbbells.

Over the next few weeks, I’m gonna give you the best dumbbell exercises — including a workout — for your every part of your body. Feel free to use each as individual workouts or mix and match them to get a total body workout.

The Best Dumbbell Exerises for Your Chest

My biggest complaint about working my pecs on chest day is that I need a spotter for the barbell when I bench press. Dumbbells are a great option for those days when I find myself at the gym without my trusty workout buddy, Liz.

Dumbbells provide a ton more ways to work your chest muscles than just your traditional bench press would and just by changing the grip (which you can’t do with a barbell) you can challenge those muscles in a completely different way. I used a box to lie back on but you could use anything really — a bench, a stability ball, etc.

So, without further delay, here are my favorite ways to strengthen my chest using only dumbbells:

Put them into a workout and you got …

And if you want a visual of what each move looks like, check out this demo video.

What are your favorite dumbbell chest exercises? Share them in the comments. And get our fave dumbbells here!Alison



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‘YOUv2’ Workouts Focus on the Fun

I had a few different fitness setbacks pile up, so between a cranky achilles on one leg and an IT band flare-up on the other, followed by dental surgery and a cold … let’s just say I’m a little deconditioned and in need of a good beginner workout to get me back in the swing. […]


I had a few different fitness setbacks pile up, so between a cranky achilles on one leg and an IT band flare-up on the other, followed by dental surgery and a cold … let’s just say I’m a little deconditioned and in need of a good beginner workout to get me back in the swing.

And I found it! I’m not sure where I first saw it, but a video of trainer Leandro Carvalho (he’s the Brazil Butt Lift guy) having the time of his life with a room full of “real-sized” women had me seek out his new YOUv2 workout DVD set.

I ordered it and promptly popped the first disc into my DVD player.

OMG, fun! Seriously, I’m in love with this workout set.

It’s not a big, complicated “system” — you get two discs with six 30-minute workouts. They’re primarily cardio but a couple of them focus on bodyweight sculpting.

You get a guide that goes over each workout, a four-week journal for charting your goals, “daily vibe,” and inspiration, a calendar to keep track of your workouts (with a cute backside of motivational sayings), and a Keep It Super Simple Meal Guide that features some good-looking recipes and a weeklong sample meal plan.

These aren’t intense, hard-body workouts by any stretch but that’s not what I was looking for. I glanced down at my Fitbit and saw that my heart rate was at a respectable 150 bpm while in the cardio phase.

Leandro is motivating and cheerful without being condescending — something that often crops up in workouts meant for the less fit. The background exercisers, diverse in age, race, and size, are freaking delightful — none of them fit the typical workout DVD mold, and they all appear to be having a blast. The music has a bit of a Baby Boomer vibe with songs like Love Shack, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and Let’s Get Loud.

Best thing about these workouts — I promise you can complete them all without any modifications. That alone is a huge motivator. In fact, the only background exerciser doing anything different is the woman wearing weighted gloves for a little more upper-body resistance.

The set is available on DVD through Beachbody and Amazon and is also offered through its Beachbody On Demand streaming channel, which is available on many platforms, including Roku and Amazon Fire. One little extra in the streaming version is that there are kid-focused workouts, featuring younger exercisers.

How do you get back into the swing of exercise after a setback? —Gail



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Workout I Did: Learning to Surf

We all have that one thing that we’ve always wanted to try to but for whatever reason we just haven’t. For me, that thing is surfing. I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania with a family that wasn’t big on beach vacations. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started spending any […]


We all have that one thing that we’ve always wanted to try to but for whatever reason we just haven’t. For me, that thing is surfing.

I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania with a family that wasn’t big on beach vacations. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started spending any time near the beach. And yet, the idea of surf lessons still seemed far off.

Then, on a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, my chance finally came — at age 37, I was finally about to check surfing off my bucket list. For having this on my list for so long, I still hadn’t even Googled how to surf. On the plus side, when we arrived on the beach for our morning lesson, I had zero expectations and was open to anything.

We were greeted by our surf instructors, Jack and Nick, who had laid out a variety of longboards on the beach for us. As we looked out at the ocean, Jack pointed out that there was some good ground swell from Hurricane Irma, which was approaching but still a couple days out. But, he pointed out, these are perfect wave conditions for learning to surf. One very important variable was in our favor — yay!

On the beach, Jack walked us through how to position ourselves on the board, paddle out and “pop up” from a belly-down position to standing on the board. Then we worked on refining our stance on the board — which foot goes in front, optimal distance between our feet, and how to find balance.

For people who’ve spent some time working out, the popping up maneuver should seem pretty familiar. I mean, look at this slow-mo video of me and tell that this doesn’t look like a cockeyed burpee.

Once we got that down, we headed out into the water with our instructors. We paddled through the breaking waves close to the beach and settled into a relatively calm pocket of flat water not too far off shore. Our instructors stood beside our boards as we hung out on top, waiting. And when a suitable wave approached, they would give us a push on the board toward the shore and tell us when to start paddling. When the moment was right, they’d tell us to pop up.

To my shock and surprise, on my very first wave I made it to my knees and rode the wave to shore. By my second run, I was up on my feet. From there on, I was on fire. I even caught one wave and rode it all the way into shore until I (literally) ran aground.

At this point, I was grateful for my fitness. It was exhausting to work your way through breaking waves, heave your body up onto the board, and then paddle out using only your upper body fighting the water every step of the way. If I was lucky, I’d get a minute to catch my breath before being pushed right back toward shore and popping back up onto my board. So much upper body and core work went into this process. But as tiring as it all was, I was drawn back out over and over again — totally hooked.

Despite all my success on lesson one, I don’t pretend to think I’m prepared to go beyond the safety of the breaking waves near the shoreline just yet. Everything I’ve read and heard since talks about how long and frustratingly slow the learning process is. But I do wonder — why did I wait so long to give this a shot?

Curious to try it for yourself?

Three Things You Should Know

1. Be prepared to be humbled. Surfing might look pretty, but the reality is that it’s far more difficult than it looks. I found that it was easy enough get up onto my knees out there but it took a ton more power (and courage) to get my feet on the board and then stand up. Wipeouts are inevitable — even for seasoned surfers. You’ll get tossed about by the waves and clobbered over the head with your board — it’s foam, you’ll live.

2. Wear the leash. If it’s not securely fastened, your board becomes a projectile. When you’re up on your board, the waves are trying to rip it out from under you. On a few occasions as I was going under mid-wipeout, I could feel my board being launched forward. The leash was only thing keeping me from losing my board and potentially taking someone out.

3. Start small. You begin by essentially learning to ride the whitewater, the smaller and more frequent breaking waves near the shore. This was plenty for me to deal with. What looks like a small wave from the beach looks massive at it approaches you in the water. Over time, as you get more experienced and build confidence, you’ll move farther out and away from shore.

A huge thanks to my friend Jennifer Mitchell for catching the awesome video of me!

What’s on your fitness bucket list? —Alison



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4 Ways Yoga Helps Your Regular Workouts

Are you one of those people who doesn’t do yoga because you think it’s not a good workout? You believe that flowing through a sequence of postures simply cannot bring you the same benefit that comes from a heart-pounding cardio kettlebell and interval-training routine? Or maybe it’s the sitting still part of yoga that drives […]


Are you one of those people who doesn’t do yoga because you think it’s not a good workout? You believe that flowing through a sequence of postures simply cannot bring you the same benefit that comes from a heart-pounding cardio kettlebell and interval-training routine?

Or maybe it’s the sitting still part of yoga that drives you crazy. Those long holds which constantly kick up a sea of emotions while sending your to-do list into a swirl around your brain is not your thing.

And you probably already have a friend or two who raves on about the amazing yoga class she just came from as a preamble to her ongoing attempt to convert you to the practice. Which gets a little annoying.

Well, don’t worry! I’m not going to try and get you to become a yogi. I’m only going to explain how including yoga in your regular exercise routine —like an add-on — will not only enhance your workouts, it will also make you happier in your life.

4 Ways Yoga Helps Your Regular Workouts

1. Breathing. Enter a yoga class and there’s a good chance you’ll hear an instructor counting breaths out loud. In fact, this may even be the scope of her instruction. Why? Because breathing is the foundation of yoga. In order to truly advance through the practice, you must be connected to your breath. It enables you to use your muscles more efficiently while allowing your body to move more fluidly. And guess what? The breath will do its magic outside of a yoga class. So if you’re a runner, connecting the breath to your stride will provide an even steadiness that gives you more control.

2. Stretching. You probably already know that your body needs a good stretch post-workout. And the five minutes tacked onto the end of class is fine if you’re looking to reduce muscle soreness. But in order to prevent injury, you want your muscles to be in tip-top shape so they are flexible and receiving optimum blood flow. Yoga as a cross-training exercise will help you do this. On your rest day, consider adding in a series of poses to lengthen your muscles, which will help keep them from pulling and overuse. Also, in conjunction with the contraction that comes from activities such as weightlifting, the stretching from yoga will give you a better range of motion. Plus, being more flexible (especially as you age) feels good.

3. Stabilizing and balancing. While you don’t need to stand on your head for 10 minutes a day, working on your balance is important for both your workouts and your everyday life. The muscles engaged while balancing help stabilize the rest of your body to prevent overuse that can lead to injury. Yoga as a balance practice teaches you to ground into your center, engage your core and lengthen the spine. So if you are a cyclist or Spinner, yoga teaches you to work from this center which will improve your form, posture and core strength.

4. Mindfulness. No need to get all fancy on this term, mindfulness simply means being present — which is the equivalent to keeping your head in the game. And this is the whole purpose of yoga: to stay connected to your body and breath throughout the practice (and in the rest of your life!). The discomfort that this can cause — like unwanted emotions — can be a turn-off to many non-yoga people. But really, this is key to living a fuller and richer life. If you can keep your mind present while you’re working out, you will have better results that can help build endurance and strength along with preventing injury. While most people probably do not want to pay attention to the aching hip on a run, if you use this discomfort as a sign to slow down, or even stop running, you could be protecting yourself from a muscle tear. On the flip side, if you feel a burning sensation in your quads, and you stay with it, you’ll push past your limitations which will thrust you across the finish line in the race.

Are you convinced? How do you think yoga could enhance your regular workout? —Elysha



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6 Unexpected Truths About Your First SoulCycle Class

Interested in taking a SoulCycle class? Amy Williams has all the deets on what you can expect. As an attorney and freelance writer who’s curiously exploring ways to make healthy living more entertaining, Amy blogs at Bibsandblisters.com and Tweets from @aymer22. Be sure to check out her post on what to expect training for your […]


Interested in taking a SoulCycle class? Amy Williams has all the deets on what you can expect. As an attorney and freelance writer who’s curiously exploring ways to make healthy living more entertaining, Amy blogs at Bibsandblisters.com and Tweets from @aymer22. Be sure to check out her post on what to expect training for your first half marathon, too, here!

Preparing for your first SoulCycle class can feel a little intimidating, even for the most fitness-savvy gym rats. From rented shoes to dark rooms and candles, SoulCycle is an experience far beyond the typical group exercise class. Before you reserve a bike and commit to your first class, get up to speed on these unexpected truths about that first class.

1. You will sweat.

This may not seem like an unexpected truth; obviously you will sweat during a 45-minute cycling class. It’s actually the amount that you will sweat that is unexpected. Even after you wipe your face on the towel draped across the bike’s bars, you will feel the sweat running out of your pores. It’s a tight room, filled with others also gushing sweat, so leave your self-consciousness at the door. Just don’t plan to immediately head to brunch when class is over.

2. You may feel an urge to cry, shout or smile.

Even if you expect the physical workout to be a challenge, you may feel unprepared for the emotional workout. The SoulCycle instructors have a unique way of pulling you inside yourself in almost an aggressive meditation. Between cues to increase speed or resistance, the instructors also call out positive affirmations or challenge you to create something in this particular moment. Between bouts of utter physical exhaustion, there’s an emotional release that you might not expect, but don’t want to miss.

3. You feel like a member of the “pack.”

If you’ve tried group exercise before, you already know there’s a certain magic to the shared endorphin rush of a hard group exercise class, but this is different. After one visit to a SoulCycle class, I felt like I became part of the “pack.” From the instructors to the experienced participants to the friendly staff, newbies aren’t just welcomed, but are initiated and applauded. The round of applause at the end of class for the new members was a great pick-me-up after a challenging workout.

4. You don’t have to push yourself; the music does.

Don’t worry about being able to keep up with the pack during the class — the music has a way of forcing you to keep up. Once you click those rented shoes into the bike’s pedals, the beat of the music will be the push you need to go faster or push harder. Follow the music and don’t worry too much about pushing yourself.

5. Your arms will burn, too.

Obviously, you expect your legs and buns to burn after a SoulCycle class, but the added arm workout is an unexpected benefit. Don’t scoff at the two-pound weights on the back of each bike because it’s actuallu the number of reps — not the amount of the weight — that leaves your arms burning.

6. There’s no room for personal space.

The bikes are packed very tightly into an already small studio. If you’re at all claustrophobic, try to reserve a bike nearest the door and toward the back. Once the class gets going, you will probably be too busy to care that 45 strangers are packed around you — all sweating and cycling to the beat — but when you’re climbing over bikes to find yours, it can feel a little intense. Arrive early, find your bike and take advantage of the staff’s willingness to help you find just the right position for your body.

Despite the unfamiliarity you may initially feel when you enter your first SoulCycle, you’ll probably leave feeling eager to go back. Regardless of your fitness level, check it out and enjoy your experience! —Amy Williams



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The 20-Minute Workout That Had Us Burning at the FBG Retreat

We held our first ever live retreat earlier this month and, guys, it was AMAZING. Kristen and I will get into the hows and whys and ah-has and ALL of that in a later post (with deets on how you can get involved with fun stuff like that going forward — like here and here and […]


We held our first ever live retreat earlier this month and, guys, it was AMAZING. Kristen and I will get into the hows and whys and ah-has and ALL of that in a later post (with deets on how you can get involved with fun stuff like that going forward — like here and here and here), but for now, we wanted to share the 20-minute workout that had us FEELING IT. Both inside and out. ‘Cause you know that’s how we roll …

If you’re not familiar with the AMRAP style of workout, it means “as many rounds as possible.” So, it’s basically a circuit you go through as quickly as you can (albeit safely and with good form, obviously) for the time allotted — in this case, 5 minutes for each! And be sure to track how many rounds you get through of each. As you get fitter, challenge yourself to go faster and do more. It’s SO fun to see yourself improving!

And, as always, feel free to modify any moves that you’re not feeling that day, so squat jumps could be squats, star jumps can be jumping jacks, etc. Or, kick it up a notch by taking things to a single leg or adding weight when applicable. If you have a specific question about a modification for one of the exercises listed, drop it in the comments!

Try it and let us know how it goes. We all found it to be challenging but doable, which all made us feel pretty awesome afterwards. —Jenn



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Your Illustrated Guide to CrossFit

We’ve written about CrossFit quite a bit. Because — especially for the beginner — there’s a lot to learn. Like, what the lingo means. The myths. The workouts. The gear. And, how to stay injury-free. And this infographic created by eReplacementParts with the foundational movements, WODs and benefits of CrossFit breaks it all down in […]


We’ve written about CrossFit quite a bit. Because — especially for the beginner — there’s a lot to learn. Like, what the lingo means. The myths. The workouts. The gear. And, how to stay injury-free. And this infographic created by eReplacementParts with the foundational movements, WODs and benefits of CrossFit breaks it all down in a really cool, illustrated way.


Source: eReplacementParts.com

Another benefit of CrossFit that I can personally attest to? Improved self confidence and an overall feeling of badassness. It’s my favorite benefit, in fact. —Jenn



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That Time I Went to the Gym But Came Home and Lifted Wine Bottles Instead

I recently joined Planet Fitness. I’ve been struggling with my exercise regimen recently, so I was excited for the option to have the personal trainer there create a workout for me. The trainer and I met a few weeks ago to create my plan. We decided I’d do 2-3 days per week of cardio for […]


I recently joined Planet Fitness. I’ve been struggling with my exercise regimen recently, so I was excited for the option to have the personal trainer there create a workout for me.

The trainer and I met a few weeks ago to create my plan. We decided I’d do 2-3 days per week of cardio for 40-60 minutes. I have that covered with my weekly indoor soccer games, so that’s perfect for me. On non-cardio days, at least twice a week, I would do the strength workout he designed. I was nervous for this because I’m not used to using anything other than cardio machines.

My first try went like this …

I started with 5-10 minutes on the stair climber, which was great. I’m comfortable with that. It’s like cardio on steroids. It definitely gets my heart rate going. And from way up there, I could scope out the next stuff I needed to do. This was important because it was really busy that evening.

After that warm-up, it was time to move on to the weight machines. I’m less comfortable with them, but it’s a “judgment free zone,” so it doesn’t matter if I stand and look at the pictures on the machines a little longer than necessary to fully understand what to do. But first, I had to find an available machine I was supposed to use. That was pretty challenging considering how packed it was (at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday). Almost every machine was taken.

I could pick out most of the machines I needed. I spotted the leg press, but it was busy. I moved on to the glute extension. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was supposed to alternate my sets between leg presses and glute extensions. That didn’t happen. I did three sets of 10 reps on each leg at the glute extension machine. I went back to the leg press when it was free.

I tried to go to the hip adduction and abduction machines next, but I didn’t realize I sat down where a girl already had her things. She was about to wipe the machine down, so I moved on. I came back later and did two sets of 15 on each machine. Again, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be alternating sets. I did them consecutively.

I moved on to the lat pull down machine. And, yep, you guessed it, I was supposed to be alternating. This time should’ve been with the chest fly machine, but I couldn’t find it. I did three sets of 12 reps on the lat pull down.

I gave up on finding the chest fly machine and went to the free weight section. But I panicked. I had never used free weights on the gym floor before. I had used them in group classes, but that always includes a lot of guidance. I watched one girl who looked really serious for a while. I got more nervous.

I knew I was supposed to do three sets of 10 curl and presses, three sets of 10 tricep lifts, and three sets of 10 front raises. I had to check with my fiancé Evan, who has an exercise science degree and much more experience weight lifting than me, before I went to the gym to make sure I knew what each of those movements was. I did. But when it came time to do them, I chickened out. I wanted to be efficient and use both arms at the same time, but I didn’t know if that was normal. And it was crowded. And I had been there for a long time already. And I was tired, but mostly, I was intimidated.

So I left.

I decided to finish my routine in the comfort of my own home. I thought we might have free weights, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t find them when I got home, so I improvised. I grabbed the only things I could think of that were shaped the same and were kind of acceptable in weight: wine bottles. I weighed them on my kitchen scale. They were only 2.5 lb each, but hey, they got the job done.

I did my curl and presses, my tricep lifts and my front raises. I finished out with two sets of planks for 30 seconds each and 30 v-ups (a crunch with legs extended in the air).

I felt pretty silly for getting scared and leaving the gym, but I was also pleased with myself for finishing the workout, even if it meant sort of making it up.

I went back later that week and did the full workout. Evan helped me through it. I now know what to do for next time, and I definitely know to avoid the busy times to feel more comfortable. I don’t think I’ll need to use the wine bottles again, but in a pinch, they’re better than nothing.

Have you ever had a first-time-at-a-new-gym experience like this? Ever lifted wine bottles? Do tell! —Megan



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20-Minute At-Home Body-Weight Workout

Got a busy job? A busy life? Haven’t found a gym you love? Dude, home workouts can be AWESOME. You can do them when you want, in whatever you want (PJs … undies … shoes or no shoes … anything!) with no drive time to factor in. AND, with this 20-minute workout from Quill, you don’t […]


Got a busy job? A busy life? Haven’t found a gym you love?

Dude, home workouts can be AWESOME. You can do them when you want, in whatever you want (PJs … undies … shoes or no shoes … anything!) with no drive time to factor in. AND, with this 20-minute workout from Quill, you don’t even need equipment — just your body!

Great for beginners or intermediate exercisers, it’s a fantastic series of moves that will target all the major muscle groups of the body while also getting your heart rate up. For an extra cardio boost, we recommend repeating the jumping jacks between every move and resting as little as possible during the full workout. Try it!

What’s your favorite body weight move? I love me some push-ups. Always a challenge! —Jenn



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Our Fave Tracy Campoli Arm Workout

Looking for an arm workout that you can do at home with some light dumbbells in about 15 minutes — something that won’t get you too sweaty but has you feeling the burn? This Best of Arms Workout from Tracy Campoli is the ticket, yo. You’ll work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, back … the whole […]


Looking for an arm workout that you can do at home with some light dumbbells in about 15 minutes — something that won’t get you too sweaty but has you feeling the burn?

This Best of Arms Workout from Tracy Campoli is the ticket, yo.

You’ll work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, back … the whole arm situation. And while there are some moves in here you know and love (hi there, bicep curls and tricep kickbacks), there are other ones you probably don’t normally do, like Raise the Roof!

So what are you waiting for? Lift it and flex it, girl!

While we also love lifting heavy, it’s crazy how just light dumbbells can have you really, really, burning, right? Gets me every time. Also, if you love Tracy Campoli, be sure to check this workout she did just for FBG—Jenn



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8 Steps to Become a Runner… For Anyone Who Doesn’t Really Like Running

Running is a love/hate-activity for most people. It takes some willpower to get going, it hurts a bit during the run, but the feel-good payoff afterward makes it worth the effort. But for others, running is just a hate-activity, as in “I hate running!” And that’s completely fine. You don’t have to run to be […]


Running is a love/hate-activity for most people. It takes some willpower to get going, it hurts a bit during the run, but the feel-good payoff afterward makes it worth the effort.

But for others, running is just a hate-activity, as in “I hate running!”

And that’s completely fine. You don’t have to run to be fit and healthy. At the same time, have there ever been instances when you wish you liked it? (I bet you have.)

Whether it’s the social aspect of running with friends, all the amazing fitness benefits running offers, or the opportunity to train for a goal or raise money for charity, running certainly does have its perks.

If only you liked it …

How Can You Start to Like Running?

I used to hate running, too.

In fact, as a kid I once faked an injury so that I didn’t have to participate in a 5k Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer research. (I know, what a jerk move!)

But I love running now.

I love popping in my earbuds and tuning out the rest of the world while Drake or J-Biebs gets me energized. (Yeah, I like Bieber — I said it!) Running has become my favorite fitness activity.

How?

There are 8 simple steps to become a runner — even if you think you don’t like running — before summer swings into full gear. Besides, it’s National Running Day, so there is no better time to start than right now!

Step 1: See Your Doctor

If you’re completely new to exercise, this safety step is not one to skip. Check your blood pressure, your heart health, iron levels, and ask if any other health conditions could impact your safety while running.

Step 2: Consider Your Nutrition Timing

To actually enjoy the process of running, your body needs to be properly fueled. Running on empty (or over-full) can make your run painful.

Try eating a small snack consisting of mostly carbs about an hour before your first run. For example, half of an apple plus 8 almonds works for many of my clients. You’ll get a little energy boost without getting that “bouncy” feeling in your stomach as you run.

Also drink a little water before you leave. Half a cup should be plenty.

Step 3: Start Small

By far the biggest mistake you can make is taking on too much, too soon. You don’t want to stress yourself on your first running day. In fact, you may want to start with walking at moderate pace for 30 minutes.

On your next day, try walking for 30 minutes again, but this time, do five 1-minute jogs evenly spaced throughout. In other words, slowly build up to running for longer times and distances.

Remember, there is no pressure. Walking on its own is great exercise, so adding even a bit of running is pure bonus!

Step 4: Recover

“What? I only jogged for 5 minutes. I don’t need a day off!”

You might be right, or you might end up getting injured by pushing too quickly. Why not take a day off to rest and to see how your body feels? Running will be there for you tomorrow.

Start by walking/jogging every other day. After two weeks, if you want to add a fourth day per week, go for it. Give your body time to build up to withstanding more frequent runs.

Step 5: Run For Time, Not Distance

Distance can be daunting. Telling yourself,“I have to run 5k today!” places very specific expectations on your body.

What if your legs are tired today?

What if you didn’t sleep well last night?

What if the weather is exceptionally hot or cold?

There are many reasons why a 5k run today might not feel like it did yesterday. Instead, commit to going out for a specific time. This allows you to adjust your pace according to how you feel in the moment. Again, there’s no pressure to perform — your goal is to get moving.

Step 6: Get Proper Running Shoes

Shouldn’t this be the first step?

Nope. The more barriers you create to the idea of running, the less likely you will be to try it. If you say, “I can’t start running because I don’t have the shoes, and I need to get special shorts, and…” then you might give up before you begin.

Remember, your first runs might actually be walks. You don’t need any special equipment to walk.

Once you’re past the two-week mark into your running journey, then it might be time to invest in some proper shoes that will protect your feet, ankles, knees and hips. Think of this as a reward for sticking with it for two weeks — you get to go shoe shopping!

Step 7: Keep a Journal

Again, I want to emphasize that there is no pressure to perform. Logging your run details isn’t so that you can compare week-to-week stats; instead, it’s so that you can see what you’re accomplishing!

Imagine how great it will feel when you can flip back through the pages a couple of months from now to see how committed you’ve been. Even though you might not stick perfectly with your intended schedule, each run that you do complete is one more than you were doing previously. These wins are worth celebrating!

Step 8: Get a Dog (or a Friend)

No, seriously, if you don’t have a dog, you may want to consider getting one to become your running partner. If Scooby is dying to get out for a walk or run, guess who has to go too?

Not a dog person?

You can get a human-version running buddy. However, don’t pick just anyone. Accountability buddies are great unless they become enablers. “I don’t feel like running today. Want to go out for lunch instead?” Don’t pick someone who might drag you down.

After all, at this point, you’ve proven that you are serious about building a love for running. So, you deserve to do it with someone who is equally as excited!

Now it’s time to get started. What’s your run going to look like today? —Dave



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The 9-9-9 Workout

They say it’s your birthday … via GIPHY Number 9 … Number 9 … via GIPHY Beatles fans, get the hints? In case you missed it, we’re celebrating our nine-year birthday this week! (You can see all the special posts here including — yes! — AWESOME giveaways.) And, of course, we’re going to celebrate with […]


They say it’s your birthday

via GIPHY

Number 9 … Number 9

via GIPHY

Beatles fans, get the hints? In case you missed it, we’re celebrating our nine-year birthday this week! (You can see all the special posts here including — yes! — AWESOME giveaways.) And, of course, we’re going to celebrate with you in the best way we know how: a killer workout. A workout that’s all based on the number — you guessed it — 9.

Here’s the basic idea: 9 moves. 9 reps. 9 rounds. Whether you’re an exercise newbie or been working out like a beast for years, you can do this workout and take it as fast or as slow as you need to (and, of course, modifying as necessary, too — taking high-impact moves to low-impact, push-ups from the knees, walking instead of jumping back for the burpees, etc.). It’s full-body and bodyweight only, so it’s a great one to do at home, when traveling, at the park — wherever!

Be sure to warm up with five minutes or so of marching or jogging in place and cool down with some stretching and more walking once you’re done.


The 9-9-9 Workout

9 moves, 9 reps, 9 rounds

  1. Jacks
  2. Squats
  3. Mountain Climbers
  4. Lunges
  5. Burpees
  6. Sit-Ups
  7. Push-Ups
  8. Plyo Jumps
  9. High Knees

How fast did you do it? And when are you going to do it again to try to beat your time? —Jenn



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Train Like a Beast With This Track Workout

Think track workouts are only for serious runners? You know, the super speedy people wearing tiny shorts as they try to bring their 6:30/mile pace down to 6:15? via GIPHY Think again. Track workouts are great for all kinds of runners — including newbies and back-of-packers. Running around a track (even if it’s not a […]


Think track workouts are only for serious runners? You know, the super speedy people wearing tiny shorts as they try to bring their 6:30/mile pace down to 6:15?

via GIPHY

Think again. Track workouts are great for all kinds of runners — including newbies and back-of-packers. Running around a track (even if it’s not a real track and it’s just a set, visible distance) can really help runners find their different gears, learn what it feels like to push through, and get an idea of what kind of recovery they need before they can push again. It helps build stamina and speed.

But those aren’t the only reasons I love hitting the track.

I’m slower than most of my runner friends, which means that meeting them for any sort of a sustained run generally means I meet them at the start and then we catch up over coffee at the end — we don’t *really* run together if they’re wanting to run their own pace.

At the track, though, it’s different. For one thing, because I’m better at sprint-type workouts than long distance cardio, there’s less of a difference between my pace and my friends’ at the track, at least for the shorter distance workouts. And even if I’m getting lapped by someone, I’m actually getting lapped, which means that I’m at least seeing the same faces throughout the workout. We’re cheering for one another (or at least giving each other finger guns if we can’t breathe well enough to speak), and sometimes, just seeing a friend who’s giving it their all while you’re doing the same is enough to push you to go just a smidge harder.

That was the case for me at Camp Brooks Altitude Training track workout when I was in Albuquerque this spring. (As you might recall, we’re Brooks Running ambassadors and they covered my trip, but everything here is just my honest opinion!) I’ve run with my fellow ambassadors before, and many of them are fast. And when we were teamed up with some elite athletes from around the country, well, there was a lot of speed happening on that track. Even though our paces might’ve differed somewhat drastically, the experiences was shared, and the outcome was the same — we were pushing hard. It was awesome.

Also awesome? The actual track workout we did, which was not one I’d ever done before (and I’ve done a lot of track workouts!), so I knew I had to share. Thanks to Coach Danny Mackey for putting this one together, and to the Brooks Beasts for putting us through our paces. Having professional runners cheering for you and screaming for you to hit your times is every bit as motivating as you might think.

track workout

Brooks Running Track Workout

Repeat the following 3-5 times

  • 3 minutes @ 5k pace
  • 2 minutes @ slow jog/walk
  • 200 meters @ mile pace
  • 4 minutes @ slow jog/walk

The real kicker (for me, anyway) was having the mix of going by time and going by distance — it was a bit of a mind game, which is a good thing now and again when it comes to running, right? I’m not the only one who thinks it’s tough, either. Garrett Heath, one of the Beasts, later told me, “That’s one of the hardest workouts we do, and you guys did great! We expected a lot more carnage.” Glad I hadn’t known that going in!

Are you a fan of track workouts? What’s your favorite? I come back to this one any time I show up at the track without a set plan. Kristen



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How to Get the Most Out of Your Workout on the Treadmill

Confession: I kind of love the treadmill. I don’t have one at my gym so any time I’m traveling and am in a hotel fitness center that has one, I’ll always try to hop on for some interval running or just a light jog. I find them so convenient for pacing and pushing the speed […]


Confession: I kind of love the treadmill. I don’t have one at my gym so any time I’m traveling and am in a hotel fitness center that has one, I’ll always try to hop on for some interval running or just a light jog. I find them so convenient for pacing and pushing the speed and just de-stressing. After all, when you’re on the treadmill, it’s not like you have to watch for traffic or anything. And how fast you’re going is right there in front of you.

But, I know that the treadmill is nicknamed the “dreadmill” for a reason. It can get boring, static — I mean, it basically is a fancy digitized hamster wheel. My husband — the closest Fit Bottomed Dude in my life — abhors the treadmill. And I have a feeling he’s not the only guy (or gal) reading this who feels that way.

Which is exactly why we wanted to share this awesome infographic on how to get the most out of your workout on the treadmill from Fix. With tips, pointers on form and even workouts, it might just convert the biggest treadmill haters out there.


Source: Fix.com Blog

What do you love and hate the most about the treadmill? —Jenn



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Your March Madness Workout for the Whole Tourney

  I am a basketball super-fan, so I get very excited each year when March Madness rolls around. And this year, I have a special challenge for you … No, I’m not talking about picking the winning teams in a March Madness bracket challenge. Let’s make March Madness more rewarding by trying a fitness challenge […]


 

I am a basketball super-fan, so I get very excited each year when March Madness rolls around. And this year, I have a special challenge for you …

No, I’m not talking about picking the winning teams in a March Madness bracket challenge. Let’s make March Madness more rewarding by trying a fitness challenge that coincides with the tournament.

I know what you may be thinking right now: B-O-R-I-N-G, especially for those who don’t love college basketball, but remember two things:

  • Summer is just around the corner, so this is the perfect time to start getting back in top shape and maybe drop a few pounds after a long winter spent mostly indoors
  • March Madness is three weeks long, which makes it the perfect time frame to up your fitness game!

Quick Inspirational Fact: Americans drink an estimated 220 million gallons of beer during March Madness + 120 million chicken wings + 55 million slices of pizza. Not this year. Not you and me!

#MMFBGChallenge: Game Plan

When?

From March 13, which is the day after the NCAA unveils the actual bracket, through April 3, the Championship Game.

Who?

Whether you’re rooting for a specific team, you just love the sport, or you couldn’t care less about basketball and have no idea what the heck March Madness is, you’re welcome to take part in this challenge.

You can either participate in the challenge alone, or invite your friends to make it more fun. The more people, the more fun it is!

Spread the word about the challenge on social media using the hashtag #MMFBGChallenge to get your friends into this madness!

How It Works?

Scroll down to see our March Madness bracket listing the exercises assigned to each of the competing teams.

The Bracket

When the actual March Madness bracket is unveiled (March 12), you’ll have to write the competing teams in their corresponding boxes (1-16 for each Division – Midwest, West, East or South).

Don’t worry if you’re new to all this “bracket” talk. It’s easy. The March Madness bracket will be published on every sports website and sports section in the newspaper. Just copy it onto our bracket here.

The Exercises

There are a total of 64 unique exercises, one for each team in the tournament.  All 64 exercises are divided into four divisions (Midwest – Abs; East – Upper body; West – Lower Body; South – Cardio).

All exercises in the #MMFBGChallenge are performed as a superset, which means that the two exercises are performed one after another with no rest in between them. Doing both exercises once each = one superset.

Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute between each superset. Do 3 supersets in total.

Not sure how to perform an exercise? No problem — these are very common exercises, so just drop the exercise name into YouTube and you’ll find tons of tutorials to guide you.

Example

Take a look at Team #1 vs. Team #16 of the Midwest (Abs) division in the first round of the tournament (AKA the “Round of 64”). Every time Team #1 plays, you’ll be doing straight-leg wipers, and Team #16 indicates bird dogs. So, that’s your superset for this particular game: wipers and bird dogs.

Sound too easy for you?

There are a LOT of games happening during this tournament, so you will be building some serious home workouts when you combine the supersets from all the games that are happening day-to-day!

Why It Works!

  • All exercises are bodyweight exercises, so you can do some awesome resistance training and cardio at home with no equipment. Yep, even while watching the March Madness games!
  • Each division has a different fitness focus, so you’ll be getting a true full-body workout.
  • The workouts are designed with progression in mind. They get a little more challenging as the tournament goes on. This is the perfect way to continually challenge your body to get stronger and leaner.

Your Game/Workout Schedule

Remember, the #MMFBGChallenge begins after the NCAA unveils the actual bracket. Here’s your workout bracket that you can follow throughout the tournament:

download-bracket-760

Round of 64

This round includes the First Four and the Round of 64. That’s a total for 8 supersets for each day (division).

March 13: Perform each superset of the Midwest (Abs) division for each of the competing teams in the round.

March 14: Perform each superset of the East (Upper body) division for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 15: Rest.

March 16: Perform each superset of the South (Cardio) division for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 17: Perform each superset of the West (Lower body) division for each of the competing pairs in the round.

Round of 32

Now that 32 teams have been eliminated, there will be still 8 supersets for each day, as you’re going to be breaking a sweat for two divisions in one day now.

Plus, you’ll notice that the number of reps and duration has increased — yes, this is getting more challenging!

March 18: Perform each superset of the Midwest (Abs) and the West (Lower body) divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 19: Perform each superset of the South (Cardio) and East (Upper body) divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 20-22: You get 3 days of rest! Enjoy it because things get tougher next round!

Sweet 16

Now that 16 more teams — and their corresponding exercises — have been eliminated from the tournament, you’re going to perform 8 supersets in one day, covering all the four divisions at once.

March 23: Perform each superset of all the four divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 24: Rest.

Elite 8

Now that 8 more teams have been eliminated and only 8 teams are remaining, you’re going to perform 4 supersets in one day, covering two divisions in one day.

March 25: Perform each superset of the Midwest (Abs) and the West (Lower body) divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 26:  Perform each superset of the South (Cardio) and East (Upper body) divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

March 27-31: Rest from these workouts, but stay active however you enjoy.

Final Four

Finally, only 4 teams are remaining in the March Madness tournament. You’re going to perform 4 supersets in one day, covering all the four divisions at once again.

April 1: Perform each superset of all the four divisions for each of the competing pairs in the round.

April 2: Rest. Get ready for the championship game!

Championship

One of the remaining 2 teams will finally be crowned as the National Championship. , as you’re going to perform 1 superset in one day.

April 3: Perform the final superset of the tournament. It’s a tough one, but it will go quickly.

What’s Next?

Recruit your friends, family, and co-workers to join you in the #MMFBGChallenge. Then, let us know how you did. Did you make it through the entire tournament? And if so, how are you feeling afterwards?

Good luck! —Dave

Dave Smith is a fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. He is the editor-in-chief at Total Coaching, and hosts a weekly Q&A fitness podcast at makeyourbodywork.com. Contact him any time for answers to all your exercise and fitness questions!



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5 Motivational Tricks to Get You Pumped to Work Out

This post is sponsored by NordicTrack. Find more on our sponsored post policy here. Wish you were a gym rat? One of those folks who loved to hit the gym, hit the pavement and, well, HIIT it? Well, researchers have been studying the psychology of motivation for a looong time now, and they’ve learned a […]


This post is sponsored by NordicTrack. Find more on our sponsored post policy here.

Wish you were a gym rat? One of those folks who loved to hit the gym, hit the pavement and, well, HIIT it? Well, researchers have been studying the psychology of motivation for a looong time now, and they’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making a habit of exercise. We partnered with NordicTrack (which, by the way, guys: have you seen this — it’s a treadmill like running outside!) to pare all that research down and pick out the tricks that really work, so that you can use them and start getting hooked on exercise fast. Try ’em!

1. Connect With Your Why

We are HUGE proponents of finding — and then connecting with — your “why” every day. Why do you want to be healthy and fit? Why do you deserve to make time for workouts? Why are you worth taking care of? Get really honest with yourself and answer those deep questions, and then, every morning, remind yourself of your whys. Finding your deep inner motivation (and everyone’s is a little different!) and keeping it top of mind will go a long way in helping you to not just get motivated, but to stay motivated.

2. Give It Five

Does the idea of an hour … or even a 30-minute workout … have you saying UGH? Then go with one of our favorite motivational tricks: just commit to five minutes. Yes, five minutes! Hey, you can do anything for five minutes, and often times the hardest part of exercise is just getting started. Once you’re five minutes in, you probably won’t mind going for another five … and then another … and then another!

3. Grab a Bud

Whether it’s a friend, romantic partner, co-worker or family member, there is power in numbers! And people with workout buddies tend to not only work out more regularly but they also have more fun doing it (okay, so science doesn’t prove that second part, but we know it to be true!).

4. Set Yourself Up for Success

So much of being fit and healthy is just being prepared. Are you wearing shoes and clothes that allow you to move when the opportunity arises? Do you have access to the right equipment (like those cool treadmills we mentioned earlier)? Are you thinking positive you-can-do-it thoughts? Are you making time for you and your workouts? Just like anything, in the right healthy environment, you’re more likely to thrive!

5. Use a Mantra

We all have healthy and not-so-healthy days. And that’s cool. That’s life! But if you’re needing an extra motivational kick in the pants, pick a mantra that inspires you. Maybe it’s a quote or a line from a poem or an ad or a phrase you just really like — whatever it is, use it as often as needed.

What other motivational tricks work for you? Going along with the mantra idea, I like to play certain songs (like — confession — “2 Legit 2 Quit”) to get me going! Jenn



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Rollerblades for Runners

I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m scared — but I’m also typically game to face my fears. I’m terrified of heights, so I jumped off a cliff. I was nervous about my ability to complete a long course triathlon after having some knee issues, so I did a half Ironman. And experiencing some major butterflies about […]


I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m scared — but I’m also typically game to face my fears. I’m terrified of heights, so I jumped off a cliff. I was nervous about my ability to complete a long course triathlon after having some knee issues, so I did a half Ironman. And experiencing some major butterflies about leading a workout in front of a thousand of my newest friends didn’t stop me from doing just that at the Lincoln Center last year.

But, every once in a while, I’m surprised by the fear I feel about something — and, believe it or not, that turned out to be the case when the folks at Rollerblade sent me a pair of their Macroblade 100 skates. (For those who aren’t in the know, the 100 refers to the wheel size — 100 is larger, which means you can go fast, but there’s also the Macroblade 84 and Macroblade 90, both of which are great for the type of training I’m gonna touch on below.)

Let me back up a minute. Or maybe more like a decade … or two. I used to have a pair of Rollerblades and I loved them. In high school, I had a summer job scooping ice cream at a beach and, after work, I’d strap on my skates and take off for a workout with friends without thinking twice. And yes, that led to one pretty good tumble when I took on a steep downhill that I hadn’t properly vetted — but for the most part, I just did a lot of skating and went as fast as I could and it was awesome.

Fast forward to the present day, a few weeks after my 37th birthday, when I assumed I’d pick up where I left off … only to find that I felt way more like this.

via GIPHY

My eyes might’ve been bigger than Bambi’s on my first time out, to be honest. I just couldn’t believe how unsteady I felt. I mean, earlier that day I’d been out on a stand up paddleboard — battling wind and some decent waves — and never even came close to falling. I’d done hella balance poses at yoga the day before. And yet, on my skates, it took … well, a while before I would release the deathgrip on my (very patient) husband’s arm and skate the length of the sidewalk solo.

Don’t worry — it gets better, and so do I.

A couple of days later, we headed to a nearby empty (and smooth) parking lot, and boy, did that make a difference. It didn’t take long before I was building speed, practicing turns, and attempting to learn to stop (although I’m still mostly relying on a mix of Jared catching me, skating into the grass and prayer — braking is haaaard).

rollerblades
Umm, safety first, guys. I didn’t think to put on my helmet and pads for this quick pic — although, obviously I made sure my socks matched my skates, because PRIORITIES.

And that’s really good for a couple of reasons. First off, in Hawaii, I learned from some of the surfers I met that Rollerblading is a really great way to train for surfing — and you know how much I want to be able to actually surf.

But, even better (or, at least, more pertinent to my daily life), it’s also awesome training for running — in fact, Rollerblade has a training program specifically for runners. And it makes sense if you think about it, since inline skating works a lot of the same muscles you’d use for running, but (assuming you don’t flail and fall all over the place) with less impact, so you can skate either as a replacement for, say, a long slow run, or as cross training in addition to your regular runs.

rollerblade macroblade 100
Pretty, right?

I won’t lie — I’m still building my skill level (not to mention my confidence), so I haven’t incorporated too many drills just yet (unless you count “remain upright and move forward” a drill, which isn’t totally unreasonable). But I’m seriously excited about how much improvement I’m seeing every single time I put my skates on. In just a few more sessions, I think I’ll be working that one-foot swizzle like a boss … and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be mixing in some skating sessions as I get my run on this race season.

When’s the last time you slipped into a pair of Rollerblades? Think you could get right back out there if you did it again today? You might wanna give it a try, because, from what I’m seeing out on the bike trails and boardwalks these days, they are back—Kristen



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HIIT or LISS: What’s Better for Your Heart?

Boy, do I love me some cardio. And you should to. Think about it: of all the muscles in your body, none is as important as your heart. It’s the only muscle that never gets to stop contracting … well, at least not if you wanna stay alive. It’s a pretty well-known fact that heart disease is […]


Boy, do I love me some cardio. And you should to. Think about it: of all the muscles in your body, none is as important as your heart. It’s the only muscle that never gets to stop contracting … well, at least not if you wanna stay alive.

It’s a pretty well-known fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country. According to the surgeon general you should be getting 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (like brisk walking or bicycling) or 75 minutes per week of more vigorous exercise (like running or group fitness classes) or some equivalent mix of both.

For years, the debate over whether HIIT (high intensity interval training) or LISS (lower intensity steady state) is better has raged on. When asked, I always say it depends on what your goals are.

If your goal is to build a powerhouse of a heart then listen up, I’m about to break it down for you — strictly in terms of heart health.

What You Need to Know About HIIT

HIIT workouts, also known as or interval training or metabolic conditioning, involve short bouts of high intensity (hard) work followed by a periods of rest. HIIT is mostly anaerobic which means that during exercise your body is fueled primarily by stored carbohydrates rather than relying exclusively on oxygen. By doing HIIT exclusively as your cardio work, you might believe that your heart is fitter than it actually is because when you venture outside of the aerobic (oxygen-fueled) zone, you’re not actually getting the full cardiovascular benefits.

Additionally, due to the intensity, a HIIT-only diet can actually strain your cardiovascular system and stress out your heart out. Too much HIIT can also negatively affect your nervous system and trigger symptoms that look and feel like anxiety — elevated heart rate, sleep disturbances, lack of focus, agitation and restlessness — all of which just continue to stress your heart out.

The Benefits of LISS

LISS is a term used to describe an activity that’s performed at a consistent, steady effort for an extended period of time. The intensity is lower and that’s what allows you to maintain the activity for longer without the need for rest in the middle of the workout.

Since LISS keeps your heart rate in the aerobic zone, it’s fabulous for conditioning your heart and improving blood pressure and circulation. Because of this, LISS causes your resting heart rate to decrease — a signal that you’re heart doesn’t have to work so hard just to pump blood to the rest of your body and keep you alive.

LISS is much easier on the body so it’s excellent for beginners and can be done more frequently than HIIT without stressing out your ticker more than it’s able to bounce back from. The point of LISS is to place just enough strain on your heart to make it have to adapt and get stronger but not so much that it freaks your heart out.

The Verdict

HIIT and steady state cardio are both great ways to get fit. In a perfect world, you’d include a little of both but if you could only pick one and your goal was purely heart health, I’d suggest LISS. While HIIT certainly has its pros — shorter workouts and awesome metabolism-boosting effects — but when it comes to heart health, nothing beats the aerobic benefits of LISS.

Now, I know that LISS isn’t nearly as glamorous as HIIT, but if you needed another reason to include a little more LISS in your life, here you go: in order to do HIIT, your ticker has to be strong enough to recover between high-intensity bouts … this is a function of your aerobic system. In other words, by doing LISS you strengthen your heart in ways that will ultimately improve your performance during your HIIT workouts because those hard efforts rely heavily on your aerobic system to get your heart rate back down during rest intervals.

How do you like to get your daily dose of LISS? —Alison



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5 Tips for Starting a Fitness Journey

After a wake-up call, Becca Kaner of the blog A Life Without Recipes knew that she needed to revamp her eating habits, change her workouts, shift her thinking and lose the weight for good. And, she did! Read on as she shares more about her journey — and what she recommends for anyone looking to start […]


After a wake-up call, Becca Kaner of the blog A Life Without Recipes knew that she needed to revamp her eating habits, change her workouts, shift her thinking and lose the weight for good. And, she did! Read on as she shares more about her journey — and what she recommends for anyone looking to start theirs for Love Yo’Self Week.

Hardships usually end in lessons and mine was quite clear: the life we desire can be fully designed if we have the power and the patience and the gumption to “just do it.” This year-long period of time helped birth my life’s and company’s motto: not one eating plan or type of workout is universal; it is critical to find what works for us as individuals, and what works alongside our body-types, talents, abilities, personalities and so much more.

5 Tips for Starting a Fitness Journey

1. Be ready — like really, really ready. Like with most things, desire starts from within. Lean on others for great workout suggestions, and test the waters and see what piques your interest, but be really, really ready, from within, to work, sweat and begin this new phase of your life.

2. Patience is a virtue. Understanding your body type and metabolism are important first steps in your fitness journey, and will serve as great indicators of how long it may take to see your desired results. Do not be alarmed if at first the weight comes off slowly. Slow but steady wins the race!

3. Exercise is an actor while nutrition is the star of the show. Statistics vary when measuring the importance of nutrition vs. exercise when it comes to weight loss. The most important thing is that you stick to what works for you, and be patient in finding the most suitable way of eating. Don’t be afraid to have your favorite foods every once in a while!

4. Don’t stick to someone else’s workout “recipe.” Not one workout “works” for everyone. Be persistent with your search. Some people swim, others run and some just lift weights. You’ll find what works for you, and it can even be a mix of all workouts in the world!

5. Don’t be afraid to pick up the weights. Weight training is a great way to tone your entire body from head to toe. Since I personally LOVE cardio, I always intersperse three to four cardio sessions per week with two to three weight-training sessions per week. I have seen excellent results from both and you just might, too!

How can you start to see your fitness as a journey and not a destination?—Becca Kaner



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Our Best Advice for Exercise Newbies

We love our readers. And we always want to help them any way we can. So when Eiri in Kansas sent us this video and an email saying, “I just started a vlog to document my journey to a healthier me because I cannot afford a gym or a dietitian or anything like that, and […]


We love our readers. And we always want to help them any way we can. So when Eiri in Kansas sent us this video and an email saying, “I just started a vlog to document my journey to a healthier me because I cannot afford a gym or a dietitian or anything like that, and I was hoping that by reaching out online I could get some people to give me some more tailored advice to help me achieve my goals,” we were like: we got you girl.

Here’s Eiri’s first vlog entry:

And here’s her big goal and motivation: “My biggest goal is just to be healthy and in shape, but I’d be lying if I said the idea of dropping 40 pounds by next summer doesn’t appeal to me. My biggest hurdle is exercise, though — I just don’t know how to ease myself into it, and what I’m supposed to be doing. I want to lose fat, but also put on a little muscle, but I am basically just going on long walks right now because I am at a loss for what to do!

I want to make these changes because there are a lot of things I want to do with my life. Adventurous things, like running a marathon and bungee jumping and hiking Zion National Park — BIG stuff. But I can’t do any of them if I’m not living the healthiest lifestyle possible.”

Inspiring, right? We think so — because we firmly believe that everyone deserves to create and live a healthy life that they love.

And therefore we answered her question in the same way she shared it with us: via vlog!

And here are some of our best bodyweight workouts that we think Eiri will love once her habit of exercise is set!

And now we turn the question to you readers. What advice would you give Eiri to reach her goals? Leave it in the comments and thanks in advance for helping a fellow reader out! Jenn



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Surprising Lessons from the Weight Room

I recently wrote about my experience hitting the heavy weights at the gym. How I got fed up with feeling intimidated and outnumbered over there and vowed to get comfortable with the heavy stuff. If you’re looking to do the same this year, may I also recommend my accompanying post with tips on how to […]


I recently wrote about my experience hitting the heavy weights at the gym. How I got fed up with feeling intimidated and outnumbered over there and vowed to get comfortable with the heavy stuff. If you’re looking to do the same this year, may I also recommend my accompanying post with tips on how to feel much more comfortable among the big dudes and big barbells.

Like I said in those posts, I’ve done pretty much everything in my fitness life. From yoga and Pilates to a Tough Mudder and a half marathon, I’ve dabbled in everything. I’m a dabbler. But I’ve never taken weights too seriously when I wasn’t working with my own personal trainer. That’s why I wanted a concrete workout program that I could use to help me get over my lifting anxiety, so I turned to a book we’ve reviewed before: The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I’m over a month in to the program, and I can even more wholeheartedly recommend it to the person who wants to step off the treadmill to make the most of his or her gym membership (yep, I think even the dudes can benefit from the book).

One of the first surprises for me was how quickly my strength progressed — and how I had not been pushing myself by not picking up the heavier dumbbells. Because my focus had been on running over the recent months, I hadn’t been lifting anything other than my 2-year-old. I progressed quickly from 7.5-pound weights for dumbbell shoulder presses to 17.5 pounds — a weight I don’t think I’d ever picked up before for that particular exercise. I was also a bit surprised at one of my weaknesses — grip strength! Using heavier weight for exercises like step-ups does more than just tax your lower body; it taxes your grip too. Sometimes my forearms would be crying uncle well before my glutes were.

The book emphasizes following it by the book (har har), so if you’re tempted to add moves to make your workout more difficult, resist that urge. Likewise, they say that if you want to skip the rest periods to speed up your workout, go for it, but they let you know that you’re deviating from the written workout. I heeded their recommendation and do my 60 seconds of rest between exercises, which feels really, really odd to me. Standing around waiting for the next move instead of rushing on isn’t something I’m used to. And okay, I may not give it the full 60 seconds each time, but I give it a good 30- to 45-second college try for the times I don’t do the whole minute of rest.

Another thing I love is the online following this book has. There are numerous forums that pop up when you have questions about any of it, so there is almost always someone who has asked the same question you’re wondering about the program (see grip strength above). In a way I feel like I’ve found a bit of a workout home in the book, and there are a great many sequels that will give me a place to go when I’m ready to move on.

Now I’ll just have to figure out how to scale back the lifting when I have to scale up my running for my next half marathon. Always something to figure out… —Erin



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2 Things You Must Do to Reach Your Goals

  When it comes to fitness goals — or any goals for that matter — it seems like we’re constantly looking for the next big thing to push us over the edge toward success. Every day, I walk into my gym and see all the shiny whiz-bang machines with lots of bells and whistles. And […]


 

goals

When it comes to fitness goals — or any goals for that matter — it seems like we’re constantly looking for the next big thing to push us over the edge toward success. Every day, I walk into my gym and see all the shiny whiz-bang machines with lots of bells and whistles. And as evidenced by countless internet and magazine articles, there’s an unlimited number of exercise choices out there.

So the paths to success are seemingly endless. And while that should be super reassuring and positive, it ends up being … well, overwhelming.

Adding insult to injury is the question of, with so many resources at our disposal and expert advice just a click away, how are we still not able to meet our goals? What does it take to truly crush it in the goals department?

Over the years, I’ve seen programs fail and I’ve seen some be wildly successful. I’ve paid enough attention to see that the ones that have succeeded had two specific characteristics in common: simplicity and consistency.

How to Crush Your Goals

1. Keep it simple. Long-term health and fitness shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, in my experience, the more complicated the program, the more likely it is to fail. That’s not to say that the programs are inherently flawed, but c’mon, life is already complicated enough — so adding a complex plan to the mix is a recipe for stress, frustration and burnout.

You don’t need a intricate program, the perfect gym, a special class or fancy equipment. You don’t have to read every article out there on the subject either. Start with what you already know. Use what you already have access to. Go back to basics — study the finer details, educate yourself or hire someone to help you perfect them. You’d be surprised at how much your performance can improve just by doing, revisiting and mastering the basics.

Just do what you can now and add to it later when you’re ready. It’s easier to stay on track when you have a plan that’s on your side and simple to execute. More simplicity = less excuses.

2. Be consistent. Inconsistency is an absolute goal-killer. If you want to change something, you have to be consistent with your efforts. “Every once in a while” is simply not gonna cut it. You can have the best laid plans in mind but if you’re not executing it on a regular basis, it will fail. Solid structures are built brick by brick. Even the smallest efforts, when done consistently over time, create lasting change.

Yes, there are actual valid reasons to skip a workout sometimes. But “I don’t feel like it today” isn’t good enough. And, yes, if you’re brutally honest with yourself, you really can tell the difference. Here’s the thing about motivation: some days you’ll be all jazzed up with it and some days it’ll leave you high and dry. Don’t wait for motivation to fall out of the sky. The trick is learning to be consistent, with or without the presence of motivation.

If consistency truly is a problem for you, sit yourself down and ask what’s really standing in your way. Maybe you need shorter workouts, maybe you need to change the time of day, maybe you need the support of a group or maybe you’re making it too complicated (see above). Whatever it is, fix it.

Honor your commitment to yourself by showing up every day and doing the work that needs to be done, whether you “feel like it” or not. If you want to master something, master consistency — I promise it’ll change your life.

And if you find yourself waiting for the perfect plan to come along, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: there’s no such thing as the perfect plan and even if there was, it’s all for naught if it’s too complex or you don’t do it consistently.

So you can spend the rest of your life searching for something that doesn’t exist or you can start now by taking simple and consistent steps in the direction of your goals. You decide.

How do you stay on track? —Alison 



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10 Things You Get From Yoga Besides a Tight Booty

If you are not already practicing yoga it might be time to give it a try. The practice of yoga is more than simply stretching! Done properlym it’s an awesome workout for your body, mind and soul. Here’s why! 10 Reasons to Try Yoga 1. De-stress. Slow, deep breathing eases workday tension. And bonus! It’s healthier […]


yoga

If you are not already practicing yoga it might be time to give it a try. The practice of yoga is more than simply stretching! Done properlym it’s an awesome workout for your body, mind and soul. Here’s why!

10 Reasons to Try Yoga

1. De-stress. Slow, deep breathing eases workday tension. And bonus! It’s healthier than downing a couple of martinis.

2. Increased flexibility. Increased muscle elasticity helps protect your body against injury.

3. Improved balance. Virtually everything we do, from walking downhill to toting groceries to riding a bike — they all require balance.

4. Range of motion (ROM). Could your golf swing use a little oomph? How about your jump shot? An increased ROM can give you a powerful edge in sports.

5. Builds stamina. If you can successfully hold this pose for five minutes, you can do anything!

6. Improved digestion. Yoga’s twists and bends massage the internal organs and help to detoxify the system. These poses help relieve bloating and stimulate the digestive system.

7. Enhanced focus. The concentration you develop in yoga translates to other areas of your life and you become a better listener.

8. Better posture. When you have body awareness and a strong core you can’t help but have good posture.

9. Improved circulation. Poor circulation can lead to fluid retention, acne breakouts, brain fog and more!

10. Superior oxygen intake. Controlled breathing teaches your body to use oxygen more efficiently and improves your level of cardiovascular fitness.

Want More?

Yoga’s transformative qualities don’t stop there. A regular yoga practice offers emotional and spiritual benefits, too! Practitioners report a better quality of sleep, fewer mood swings and enhanced energy levels. Their practice reminds them to live mindfully and helps them to cultivate patience toward themselves and others.

Don’t be afraid of those first few awkward classes. Jump on the mat and see how far a yoga practice can take you!

Click here to see a real life transformation through yoga. —Karen



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Your No-Excuses 30-Minute Throwdown

Looking for a 30-minute workout you can squeeze into pretty much any busy day no matter what life throws at you? We’ve got it today with this guest post from Jen Mueller. Jen left her first career in corporate finance to earn a master’s degree in health education. She is a busy mom of four […]


30-Minute Workout
Looking for a 30-minute workout you can squeeze into pretty much any busy day no matter what life throws at you? We’ve got it today with this guest post from Jen Mueller. Jen left her first career in corporate finance to earn a master’s degree in health education. She is a busy mom of four and holds a
number of fitness certifications (including ACE’s Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and Behavior Change Specialist). She is passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. In her spare time, Jen loves running, kickboxing and spending time with her family. Jen enjoys blogging about raising healthy children and how small behavior changes can impact health and quality of life. And this 30-minute workout? Well, she brings it!

Your No-Excuses 30-Minute Throwdown 

jen-muellerBy: Jen Mueller, SparkPeople Community Director and certified health coach

Your day is full. If it’s not deadlines and work meetings demanding your attention, it’s the kids’ sporting events and chores at home calling your name. Spending hours at the gym is not a luxury you can afford, so it’s easy for exercise to get bumped down or completely off your to-do list. It doesn’t have to be this way, though! When it comes to exercise, quality is more important than quantity, so with even small amounts of time to spare, you can get a good workout and see results from your efforts.

When you’ve got just 30 minutes to squeeze in a sweat session, every minute counts. Circuit training is a great way to maximize results in a short period of time by combining a strength and cardio workout into one. If you’re ready for a challenge that will keep your heart pumping, muscles working and leave you feeling energized, this routine is for you!

You will need a set of dumbbells and a sturdy chair for this workout. In order to keep your heart rate elevated throughout the routine, you’ll want to move quickly from one exercise to the next. Start with a five-minute warm-up, followed by one minute of each cardio exercise and then one set of each strength exercise, completing eight to 12 repetitions per set. When you’ve completed the whole circuit once, start at the beginning and go through it again a second time.

burpees

dead-lifts-with-dumbbells

front-kicks-with-squat

Perform on the right side for one minute the first time through the routine, then the left side the second time.

side-plank

mountain-climbers

pushups

alternating-front-jabs

dumbbell-squat-with-calf-raise-and-overhead-press

plank-jumping-jacks

pendulum

alternating-hamstring-curls

triceps-dips-with-straight-legs

Isn’t circuit training the best? It’s always great when you can get cardio and strength in one workout! Jen Mueller



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3 Workout Games That Make Fitness Fun (and Hilarious)

Not feeling your workouts these days? Dreading going to the gym? I’ve been a personal trainer for more than 15 years, so I know what it’s like: You want to get fit … You were excited to do whatever it takes … But the excitement didn’t last long and now you’re in an exercise funk. […]


Not feeling your workouts these days? Dreading going to the gym? I’ve been a personal trainer for more than 15 years, so I know what it’s like:

You want to get fit …

You were excited to do whatever it takes …

But the excitement didn’t last long and now you’re in an exercise funk.

My solution for you: It’s time to have some fun!

With the help of these workout games, you can focus on the FUN side of exercise, getting some great laughs with your friends, while challenging your body in new ways.

But don’t be mistaken: Just because these workout games are fun, doesn’t mean they’re not effective. Be prepared to sweat!

Be Like a Kid Again

Think back to when you were a child. You likely played outside for hours on end. Running, jumping, climbing, dancing, and I bet you never even thought about the exercise you were doing.

That’s where we’re headed with these workouts. I want you to have fun while you move your body. I want you to laugh while you burn calories and shed fat. And, ideally I’d like you to do this with a friend. After all, research has shown time and time again that you will have more fun and get better results when you work out with a buddy.

One last thing before we begin …

Forget what other people are doing in the gym. Don’t worry if you feel a little childish (that’s actually a good thing). Ignore any self-consciousness that might creep in.

Your goal is to get recommitted to exercise, and to have fun doing it!



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