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Category: Fit Journey

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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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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5 Mistakes to Avoid to Get Your First Pull-Up

The strict pull-up … it’s the holy grail of bodyweight exercises. More and more women are adding them to their fitness goals and for good reason — pull-ups do great things for your posture and they’re super empowering. The problem is we’re not really sure how to get there. It’s not a movement that we’ve […]


The strict pull-up … it’s the holy grail of bodyweight exercises. More and more women are adding them to their fitness goals and for good reason — pull-ups do great things for your posture and they’re super empowering.

The problem is we’re not really sure how to get there. It’s not a movement that we’ve grown up with the way our male counterparts did. Our first attempts often involve gripping the bar, pulling with all our might, and then getting frustrated when we go nowhere.

But rest assured, it is possible to get there with focused work and a few adjustments.

The Reasons Why You’re Still Struggling with Pull-Ups

1. You don’t use your core. You might have been under the impression that pull-ups are a back and upper-body exercise but they’re actually a whole-body exercise. Everything must be tight and turned on, especially your core. Without your core, your arms are pulling dead weight … good luck with that. I see so many people attempting pull-ups with their knees bent — and they struggle and struggle and struggle. Bending your knees is keeping you from really engaging your core enough to help your poor arms out.

The Solution: Be in a hollow body position while you’re hanging from the bar. Either cross your feet at the ankles and squeeze your legs together or skip the cross and just squeeze those thighs together like you mean it. Think about zipping up the center line of your body and stay tight the whole way up and down. Practice on the floor by doing Hollow Body Holds and Dead Bugs.

2. You don’t activate your lats enough. Most of us live a forward-oriented life which causes our upper back and shoulders to round forward for most of what we do during our days. This position leaves our lats overstretched and weak, which makes it difficult to turn them on when we want to use them. Activating doesn’t sound as sexy as strengthening but, trust me, it’s way sexier (and critical) because you can’t have strength without activation.

The Solution: Work on actively turning on and using your lats. Try Ring Rows and Inverted Rows. Also, spend time working with Face Pulls, Resistance Band Pull Aparts, and Barbell Rows (check those out below). Focus on engaging the larger muscles of your back to initiate the movement.

3. You only ever use band assistance. This is the most common mistake I see. The first few inches of pulling from the hang position (the bottom of the movement) are the hardest. So many people turn to bands for a boost because bands provide the most assistance at the bottom of the movement (since tension on the band increases as it’s stretched away from the anchor point). For this reason, bands aren’t very effective at getting you strength there at the bottom where you need it most.

The Solution: While band-assisted pull-ups certainly have their place, don’t only do them. Mix it up and try:

  • Scap Pull-Ups (aka Lat Pulls): Grip the bar with your arms fully extended. Without bending your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades together on your back. Hold there for several seconds at the top, then release and repeat.
  • Flexed-Arm Hangs: Use a step to grip the bar with your chin over the bar and hold there by squeezing your back muscles (not by scrunching up through your shoulders) while maintaining the hollow body position.
  • Slow Negatives: Either use a step or jump to get your chin over the bar then slowly lower yourself all the way until your arms are fully extended. Try not to just bail out toward the bottom where it gets hard — fight through those last few inches so that you build up the strength there at the bottom.

4. You don’t let yourself struggle. Often we get hung up by thinking that in order to get stronger, we need to be doing sets of 10-12 reps — which forces us to pick an assistance option where that higher number of reps is possible.

The Solution: Instead, try different rep schemes like 5 sets of 3-5 reps resting 2 minutes between sets. Go with options that are more challenging and do more sets (higher volume) of less reps. You should be able to complete all reps with good form but the last one or two should be very challenging. Let yourself struggle a little.

5. You don’t do enough pull-ups. Spoiler alert … in order to get better at pull-ups, you need to do more pull-ups. Seriously, you’ve got to work on them a lot. The more consistent you are, the faster you’ll get there.

The Solution: Try committing to 30 minutes of pull-up accessory work three days per week. If you’re serious about nailing that first one prioritize it, commit, and make it happen.

Do you have pull-up goals? —Alison



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2018 Workout: 18 Moves, 18 Reps

What’s the best way to celebrate a brand spankin’ new year? With a brand spankin’ new workout, we think! And because — yep, it’s 2018 — we’re doing 18 different moves and 18 reps of each. via GIPHY Yes, if you do the math that’s 324 total reps, but don’t let that scare you. It’s […]


What’s the best way to celebrate a brand spankin’ new year? With a brand spankin’ new workout, we think! And because — yep, it’s 2018 — we’re doing 18 different moves and 18 reps of each.

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Yes, if you do the math that’s 324 total reps, but don’t let that scare you. It’s a challenge, but totally doable.

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Plus, you need no equipment except a chair or stair for the tricep dips! Please modify, take breaks as necessary and always, always listen to your body.

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So grab your water, your inner motivation and some tunes (here are some workout playlist suggestions), and let’s do this! (For an added challenge, start a timer when you begin — you’ll find out why below!)

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How long did it take you do? Jot that number down and see if you can beat it next time! —Jenn



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10-Minute Zen Barre Workout (No Equipment Needed!)

Have you guys heard of Zen Barre yet? We mentioned in this post how Kristen and I are getting certified in it, and today we’re sharing a bit more of what a Zen Barre workout is like with this 10-minute routine you can do at home! Instructor Kasey put this 10-minute Zen Barre workout together […]


Have you guys heard of Zen Barre yet? We mentioned in this post how Kristen and I are getting certified in it, and today we’re sharing a bit more of what a Zen Barre workout is like with this 10-minute routine you can do at home!

Instructor Kasey put this 10-minute Zen Barre workout together just for FBG readers to give you all a taste of what you can expect in a class. As you’ll see, it’s a hybrid class featuring the best of barre, yoga and Pilates. And, the best part is, for this one you don’t need any props or equipment — just yourself. Try it!

10-Minute Zen Barre Workout

Okay, what did you think? Did you feel the mindful burn like we did? Be sure to check out where you can take a full Zen Barre class live here. And, if you want to get certified like we are, be sure to use the code “fitbottomedgirls” for 20% vff! Jenn



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6 Moves for Enviably Strong Arms

I love my arms. And (clearly) I’m not afraid to say it because I work really hard for them. But it’s not just the way they look — I love how freaking strong they are. When I first started working in the fitness industry, I was told my arms were too muscular on several occasions […]


I love my arms. And (clearly) I’m not afraid to say it because I work really hard for them. But it’s not just the way they look — I love how freaking strong they are.

When I first started working in the fitness industry, I was told my arms were too muscular on several occasions (as if that’s an actual thing). Now, times they are a changing. And thank goodness for that. I love to see that strong women are getting the positive attention they deserve.

I believe we all have the right to be anything we want to be. Each of us has the right to train our bodies to in a way that makes us happy. And you know what makes me happy? My big, strong arms.

So today I’m sharing with you my big six moves for a super strong upper body. These secret weapon exercises will get your arms working in all directions to build functional strength on all planes of movement — which means you’ll not only look strong, you’ll actually be strong.

The key is consistency and increasing resistance. I cannot stress this enough: don’t be afraid to go heavy. You’ve gotta challenge those muscles if you want them to grow.

How Many Reps?

Always start with a good warm-up.

When working with the barbell, do a set or two of 10 reps with a light weight (recommend 50 percent of your one-rep max, if you know it). From there, gradually build — increasing the weight by 5 percent every round until you can no longer complete the full set with good form.

Also, I recommend mixing up the rep counts you use. Sometimes I do sets of 10 (lighter weight), other times I do sets of 3 or 5 (more weight), and about once a every four to six weeks, I go for a one-rep max (lots of weight).

My Big Six for Enviably Strong Arms

1. Resistance Band Pull Aparts. Hold a resistance band out in front of you at chest height with your hands shoulder-width distance apart, palms facing down. Fully extend your arms extended. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band apart with control. Slowly return to start position.

2. Shoulder Press. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Grip the barbell in front of your shoulders with your hands just outside your shoulders. Engage your core and tighten up your belly. Drive through your heels and press the bar straight up until your arms are fully extended overhead with the bar over the center of the body. Lower the bar with soft knees and hips to absorb the shock.

3. Pull-ups. Grip the bar just outside of your shoulders, palms facing away from you. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your feet slightly out in front of your body, legs straight to keep your core engaged. Initiate the movement by drawing your shoulder blades down and back then pull your chin to the bar. Feel free to scale as needed (using a resistance band or machine for assistance).

4. Bench Press. Lie on a flat bench with your eyes directly under the bar, feet flat on the floor. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Grip the bar with neutral wrists. Unrack the bar and move it right over your shoulders, arms fully extended. Lower it to your mid-chest and press the bar back up above your shoulders. Be safe — have a spotter nearby when handling heavier weights on the bench.

5. Reverse Grip Barbell Rows. Stand holding a barbell, palms facing forward. Bend your knees slightly and hinge slightly forward from your hips. Keep your back straight and your head up. Squeeze your mid back and draw your elbows back close to your body to lift the bar up to your belly. Slowly lower the weight by straightening your arms.

6. Face Pulls. Loop a resistance band around a sturdy object (or stand facing a cable pulley machine) at eye-level with a palms-down grip. Step back until your arms are fully extended in front of you, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart and your knees bent. Engage your core, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows back, bringing the band (or cable handles) right in front of your face with your elbows high. Slowly release to starting position.

What are the strength moves you swear by? —Alison



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What It’s Like to Be Able to Eat Just One Cookie

I really didn’t think my relationship with food was too screwed up in my 20s. Well, other than a few dalliances with trying to figure out just how few calories I could get away with eating (and obsessively tracking each bite) and subsisting for days at a time on steamed broccoli and Slim-Fast before breaking […]


I really didn’t think my relationship with food was too screwed up in my 20s. Well, other than a few dalliances with trying to figure out just how few calories I could get away with eating (and obsessively tracking each bite) and subsisting for days at a time on steamed broccoli and Slim-Fast before breaking down and binging on Doritos and Chips Ahoy, that is.

Pretty typical for a girl coming of age in the late 80s and 90s, right? It wasn’t much different than what I saw basically everyone around me doing. I sipped my Diet Coke, told my stomach to stop growling and spent a ton of time on the elliptical, because, hey, wasn’t that the true path to a bikini body?

Yeah, hindsight sure is 20/20.

I wasn’t entirely unaware of the fact that I was developing some less-than-ideal habits. I knew that I couldn’t open a sleeve of Thin Mints unless I had someone to share them with … because I would eat them until they were gone. So mostly, I just didn’t open them — until, you know, I couldn’t take it anymore and tore them apart, leaving nothing but crumbs in my wake. And then I’d beat myself up over having no willpower, which felt terrible (because GOLLY do I hate to be criticized, even my myself), so I’d just feel like the most hopeless failure imaginable. The shame spiral started there and worked its way into just about every other aspect of my life, because if I wasn’t a strong enough person to resist a the siren song of Girl Scout cookies, how could I expect to ever succeed at anything? And, also, NO WONDER people didn’t like me and I wonder what other things I’ll fail at in my future …

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Oh, right. I was in a loving relationship, had a whole group of wonderful friends and supportive family, and although I wasn’t exactly in my chosen field just yet, I was moving right up in my place of work (and, unbeknownst to me at the time, would soon move into a career in digital media that would fulfill my dreams and then some).

But it was really hard to see the good stuff, let alone feel grateful for it all, through that toxic haze of self-loathing.

Did I mention I was also coaching youth volleyball at the time? So as I was battling with my own sense of self worth, I was spending a few nights a week trying to drill the love yourself/appreciate-your-body-for-what-it-can-do message into the minds of young women. And no, I didn’t see the disconnect between being a champion of body image one minute and scowling at my stomach in the mirror the next.

I didn’t experience the kind of ah-ha moment that Jenn did, so I feel like every time I tell the story of how I truly came to embrace myself, perceived flaws and all, it’s a little different. There were just so many things that brought me here. And they’re all important.

However, I have to give a lot of credit to the sport of triathlon. The sport got me to really push my limits — and, as I did so, I really had no choice but to learn about nutrition from a place of curiosity rather than judgement. I knew how terrible I felt during my first half marathon (during which I refused to eat or drink anything but water because I wanted to lose weight, and therefore I bonked), and I knew I never wanted to experience that again. As I learned more about what my body actually required to compete and train, my unhealthy associations (hunger with shame, eating with guilt) began to subside.

They eased further as I surrounded myself with more and more people who loved to be active — and also really, really loved to eat. We celebrated long runs and races with meals together, and if there were feelings of having “earned it,” it wasn’t about burning off those calories. It was about sharing things we enjoyed with people we like while celebrating things we were proud of.

At this point in the story, my emotions around food itself were pretty well in check, but my weight and body image? Less so. And while I didn’t consider many foods truly off-limits, I still struggled with binging on foods I really loved but didn’t have often.

So, what happened to change that? More and more tiny steps, every single day. I worked hard to stop negative self-talk about my body. I said kind things to myself in the mirror. I became more vocal in social settings when someone would put themselves down or make a disparaging comment about looks or weight. (I also changed my method of birth control around this time, which I think was a factor in both my mental health and weight — but it was only one of many factors.) I treated myself like I would treat my best friend — not because I was desperate to lose weight, but simply because I knew I deserved unlimited compassion. We all do.

What do you know? Clothes began to fit better, and, when I finally decided to weigh myself, I was at a lower weight than I’d been in YEARS.  Mind you, that was without actually making weight-loss a priority like I had, ohhh, the entire rest of my life up to that point.

via GIPHY

I continued being kind to myself (encouraging others to do the same), and my body continued to respond.

And so did my brain. The more love and acceptance I showed myself — and the less judgment I showed myself when some of those craving-inducing foods appeared — the easier it was for me to have just a cookie, just a bite, or … believe it or not, even just say, “No thank you,” without feeling deprived or restricted or sad. It’s just me respecting my body and what I actually want in that moment.

kristen seymour
Nearly a decade older — and EVER so much wiser.

Now, I fully embrace the idea that I can eat what I want, when I want — but damn if it isn’t an incredible feeling to also know that I can choose to eat just a little bit of it if that’s what I want. Today is not my last shot at a cookie. When I have one, I enjoy the hell out of it. I don’t judge any feelings that might come up while I’m eating it. And when I’m done, I simply ask myself, “Are you satisfied?”

You already know what the answer nearly always is.

via GIPHY

I continue to be astonished at how quickly my body caught on once I wrapped my head around the idea of ditching all that judgment. From here on out, I’mma just leave the judging to Judy, because I’ve got nothing but love to give.

Well, love and support for other women working on their own weight-loss journeys in our 10-in-4 Challenge, and we’ll be kicking off another round in January so feel free to sign up now if you’re interested! —Kristen



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Love at First Lift: Meet the Couple Who Got Married at a Planet Fitness

You may think you spend a lot of time at the gym, or maybe you even consider it to be like a second home, but this couple probably has you beat. They feel such a connection to their gym that they recently got married there. And one of the staff members officiated! Stephanie Hughes and […]


You may think you spend a lot of time at the gym, or maybe you even consider it to be like a second home, but this couple probably has you beat. They feel such a connection to their gym that they recently got married there. And one of the staff members officiated!

Stephanie Hughes and Joe Keith tied the knot in early September at their Planet Fitness in the Cincinnati area. Stephanie wrote a Facebook note to Planet Fitness, which responded with the offer to host the wedding. They shut down the location for the day and decorated the building in purple and gold to honor the couple who met and fell in love in there.

When they first started dating, Joe and Stephanie would spend almost every night as workout buddies. They’d continue to hang out there and talk to get to know each other after their workouts. As soon as they were engaged, the couple thought it was a great idea to have the wedding at Planet Fitness.

Their guests agreed that it was a perfect fit for them.

“We had a lot of people compliment us on how cool it was, how unique and fitting it was for us, how fun it was, and how awesome it turned out,” Stephanie says. Wedding guests included the owner’s family, friends who are Planet Fitness employees, and even some friends the couple met there.

The wedding was easy to plan with the help of corporate and the local owners. “I thought it would be challenging,” Stephanie says, “but corporate and the owner actually made it really easy by helping us and answering all of our questions along the way. They let us set it up the way we wanted to set it up and it turned out perfect. We even had a rehearsal.”

The reception included cookies with Planet Fitness’s thumbs-ups logo, barbells, muscles and other gym themes, and the couple each had a pair of gym shoes made with the words “Bride” and “Groom” on the tongues.

After all of the excitement, Stephanie and Joe know their new married life won’t change their exercise habits.

“The gym is a place we love, and we have set goals there,” Joe says. “I think it helps a lot because we have similar goals in and out of the gym.”

“Working out together is kind of like a date for us. We teach each other things and motivate each other,” Stephanie says.

Did you ever meet a significant other at the gym? —Megan



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13 Things to Know Before Training for Your First Ultramarathon

  Ultramarathon. It has nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Nothing inspires oohs and aahs quite like mentioning that you run them. The odds are that once you’ve got a couple of marathons under your belt, the thought will — at some point — cross your mind to try stepping up to the next distance. […]


 

Ultramarathon. It has nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Nothing inspires oohs and aahs quite like mentioning that you run them. The odds are that once you’ve got a couple of marathons under your belt, the thought will — at some point — cross your mind to try stepping up to the next distance. Wanna know how I know? I’ve done six ultras in the past three years.

Ultramarathons typically start at the 50k distance — or 31(ish) miles. Now, it’s really tempting to think of it as “just a few miles longer than a marathon” but ultras — which are typically done on trails — are a completely different animal than a road marathon. Unless your goal is to hate the experience of running your first ultra, don’t assume that your standard marathon training will do.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Training is the hardest part. I mean, sure, it’s tough to run 31+ miles, but it’s the grinding it out day after day after day that’s the toughest part. Staying motivated and positive through months of training through all sorts of conditions is hard — especially if you’re training alone. Honestly, if you can get through training, you’ve got the chops to get through the race.
  2. Have a training plan. You may have been able to get away with willy-nilly training for other distances, but it’s a supremely bad idea to do an ultra without a clear plan. There are free plans online (be sure they are from reputable coaches) for first-timers which you could adapt to your own schedule or — better yet — hire a coach with ultramarathon training experience to write one for you.
  3. Back-to-back “long” runs are where ultrarunners are made. This is the bread and butter of ultra training — a weekly long run that increases (similar to the way a marathon long run would increase with a mileage cutback every couple of weeks) and a second shorter “long” run the next day. The object of this second “long” run is really just to be on your feet for 60-90 minutes to learn what it feels like to have “dead legs” while still keeping your running form together.
  4. Train for your course. Research the course you’ll be running and spend some time training in similar conditions. For example, if you know that your course has a huge climb at mile 20, pick routes that have uphills toward the end of the course and/or include more hills in your second “long” run. Also, be sure to put in as many miles as possible on a similar surface to what you’ll encounter on race day.
  5. Be okay with walking. This goes double if you’ll be on trails. Road hills are built to accommodate cars so they’re never as steep as what you’ll see out there on the trails. Often, it’s far more energy efficient to walk up certain hills than it would be to run them. Also, some downhills can be steep and dangerous — especially if it’s wet out there or if you’re on loose rocks. But even in general, walking is totally acceptable on ultra courses. We all do it — seriously. Don’t try to be a hero; walk when you need to.
  6. Be ready to make sacrifices. Ultra training is a big, time-consuming commitment. No doubt somewhere along the line, you’ll get an invite for a happy hour the night before your long run. And you’ll want to go and you’ll really want a drink. I’ve totally been there — but trust me, you’ll pay for it in your run the next day. Be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of training.
  7. Recovery rituals become critical. Stretching overused muscles, foam rolling, restorative yoga, epsom salt baths, etc. become more important than ever. You can’t train if you’re too sore (or mentally burnt out) to run. Stress-relieving activities throughout your week will help your body and your mind gain resilience rather than breaking down. Be proactive with your recovery. Above all else, keep your rest/easy days sacred.
  8. Your fueling has to be on point. This is a biggie. You need to fuel and hydrate appropriately while training — it’s non-negotiable. Just because you’re running all the miles doesn’t mean can eat all the crap. On your runs, always take more fuel with you than you think you’ll need because trail conditions can vary widely. Also, consider using electrolyte tabs during your long runs to help keep muscle cramping at bay. Replenish after every run.
  9. Practice your race day strategies with your race day gear. Use the hydration pack you plan to wear on race day, consume the same energy gels/gummies, etc. Everything down to your socks should be thoroughly tested during training.
  10. Expect to have tough runs. Like any other distance, some runs will be inexplicably tough. Get through them and know that this is the mental side of training well. You have to struggle a little to become tough enough to endure whatever gets thrown at you on race day.
  11. Aid stations on the course are like mini parties. Unlike other race distances, runners actually stop at aid stations in ultras — they eat something, refill a hydration pack, have a conversation, take a seat, fix a shoelace, or put some petroleum jelly on the spots that are chaffing. Know where the aid stations are on your course and allow yourself the time to stop — it could be an hour (or more) before you see the next one.
  12. Run your own race. I mean it, eyes on your own paper! Stick with the pace and fueling that you’ve tested throughout training. Going out too fast in a half-marathon makes the last six miles suck. Going out too fast in a 50k makes the last 16 miles suck … badly. Aim to be comfortable for most of the race, moving at a pace that you feel confident you can sustain. As the final miles approach, you can always take it up a notch — but you can’t get back the energy you blow in the first 10-12 miles.
  13. Smile. It’s an adventure and an amazing accomplishment. It requires dedication and mental toughness. But it’s totally doable. And if you take the time and energy to do it right, you’ll be really glad you did it.

There are as many ways to train for an ultra as there are ultra runners. As with any distance, don’t expect that you’ll get it right your first time. Every time you complete an ultra, you gain a ton of experience — you come back next time stronger and wiser.

Be honest: did I talk you into (or out of) training for your first ultra? —Alison



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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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Push, Pull & Twist Countdown Workout

Everybody has workouts they love and workouts they hate and workouts they love to hate. And everybody has their go-to workout for when they’re time-crunched at the gym. Today, I’m sharing one of my faves with you. I’ve written countless conditioning workouts in my time but this is the one that I reach for time […]


Everybody has workouts they love and workouts they hate and workouts they love to hate. And everybody has their go-to workout for when they’re time-crunched at the gym. Today, I’m sharing one of my faves with you.

I’ve written countless conditioning workouts in my time but this is the one that I reach for time and time again. I usually find myself pulling it out on days when I’m not sure what to do with myself and am in need a quick shot of badass.

I love it for it’s simplicity. It’s only three moves that require very little set up and space. Some days I go lighter and faster. Other days I load up the resistance and push myself to dig deep. And that’s the other thing I love about it — it’s totally customizable.

I even use it as a benchmark workout for myself. I keep track of how long it takes me to finish it and what weights I used. Over time, I’ve watched my times decrease and my weights increase. So cool to see the progress in action.

I’m not gonna lie to you though, this countdown workout is tough. The one thing you’ve got going for you is that the reps are reduced as you move through the rounds, which, as you can imagine, is so much better than the alternative.

If you don’t have access to a rower, feel free to run instead or use any other form of cardio that works for you. While I used a barbell for my push presses and a medicine ball for the twists, you could easily use dumbbells for either or both of these moves.

Push, Pull & Twist Countdown Workout

To make it even easier to save and share, here’s a graphic for you!

What are your go-to moves for unleashing your inner badass? —Alison



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This Bodyweight-Only Workout Is Great When Traveling

The morning of the eclipse, I woke up with the desire to move. We had traveled to a friends’ house in Columbia, Mo., to see the total eclipse, and I hadn’t really planned on fitting in a workout, but I really, really wanted to the moment my eyes opened that morning. (Side personal thing I’m […]


The morning of the eclipse, I woke up with the desire to move. We had traveled to a friends’ house in Columbia, Mo., to see the total eclipse, and I hadn’t really planned on fitting in a workout, but I really, really wanted to the moment my eyes opened that morning.

(Side personal thing I’m just now realizing: I tend to like to work out the morning of any any milestone-esque day. The day I quit my full-time job to do FBG … the morning I found out I was pregnant with Gwen … before I did this speaking engagement. A good workout clearly just sets a good tone for a good day — which is even more important on the big days, ya know? You know.)

And so I did! I only had workout clothes and a pair of running shoes — no equipment and I wanted to do some cardio and some strength training, all in about 20 minutes. Here’s what I did!

Travel Workout 1: 12-Minute Tempo Run

It’s pretty self-explanatory: just go out and run or walk fast at a faster-than-normal pace for 12 minutes.

It gets you nice and sweaty — in not a lot of time. And then, if you want more …

Travel Workout Two: 8-Minute AMRAP

For this one, you set a timer for 8 minutes and then see how many times you can get through this circuit (AMRAP = “as many rounds as possible”):

  • 12 walking lunges (do 12 on each side)
  • 10 plyo squats
  • 10 plyo side lunges (also called super skiers)
  • 10 push-ups

This one will get your legs burning like whoa, get your heart rate up and still work your upper-body and core with the push-ups. Talk about a full-body travel workout! AND, you have just 8 minutes to see how many rounds you can get, so push yourself. (Obviously, it’s made a touch more challenging after that 12-minute tempo run!)

After doing this, I felt great. Totally accomplished and energized. After a quick shower, I grabbed some food and water, and was treated to this later that day — alongside a glass of wine because balance. (Although the photo does it no justice — my phone simply couldn’t capture the ring!)

Thanks, Mother Nature. YOU ARE SIMPLY AMAZING.

Wanna follow along live during more of our workout and life adventures? Follow us on Instagram at @FitBottomedGirl! And tell me what your eclipse experience was! I expected it to be cool, but, guys, it was, like, mind-blowing cool!Jenn



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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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How a Flatlander Trains to Run Up a Mountain

FBGs, welcome our newest contributor: Nichole Curran! Nichole is a thrill-seeking two-time Ironman triathlete and Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, and today she’s sharing the new challenge she’s taking on — Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon — and how she’s training for it even though she lives far from the mountains! According to the Merriam-Webster […]


FBGs, welcome our newest contributor: Nichole Curran! Nichole is a thrill-seeking two-time Ironman triathlete and Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, and today she’s sharing the new challenge she’s taking on — Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon — and how she’s training for it even though she lives far from the mountains!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, flatland is defined as “a region in which the land is predominantly flat and lacks significant variation in elevation.”

Wiktionary breaks it down further, describing a flatlander as “a person who lives at low altitude (used by those living at higher altitudes).”

Now I may be mistaken, but this Kansas City girl thinks walking to the mailbox and back is quite the uphill climb … no?

So a flatlander I am.

Let’s Do Something Crazy

Apparently finishing two Ironmans and a handful of half Ironmans wasn’t enough. What’s a thrill-seeking, endurance-junkie, always-looking-for-the-next-big-challenge FBG to do next?

If you’re me, you find yourself out on a leisurely group trail run with your girls, talking about life, taking in nature, thinking about what you’re going to eat later, and then out comes: “Let’s run a up a mountain!”

A mountain? Where is such mountain?

This particular mountain is Pikes Peak, located just outside Colorado Springs, Colo. It’s the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

What could possibly be going on there? Only the toughest half marathon in America: Pikes Peak Ascent.

Halfmarathons.net breaks it down for us: “You’ll run literally up the side of a mountain at this race, which starts at 6,300 feet above sea level and climbs all the way to 14,115 feet.” A fourteener! “Temperatures at the start can rise to the 90s during the day, while runners might face near-freezing weather at the summit.”

Game on.

How to Train for Running Up a Mountain (When You Have No Mountains Around)

Being a flatlander, how on earth do you train to run up a mountain? Raw answer: the best you can! Here are a few more tips …

1. Utilize any and every resource you have available. You know that friend who randomly has an altitude-training mask (yep, the one that makes you look like the evil Bain character on Batman)? Borrow it!

I’m pretty sure I gave many children nightmares, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Strap it on, turn up the altitude and go for it! This thing will literally leave you breathless. There were times it caused me to have minor panic attacks. ripping it off as quickly as I could. But you know what? I didn’t give up. I put it right back on and I went further the next round. Push yourself!

2. Train on stairs. How about those Rocky Balboa wanna-be stairs downtown? Run them … REPEATEDLY! Wake up those muscles that have been hibernating and climb your heart out! Want a more intense stair workout? Skip a step and stride! It’s a killer.

3. Hit the trails. Lots and lots of trails! Look down. Trails make you focus by eyeing each and every step. You never know when you’ll encounter a rock, tree root or animal(!). Hence, running trails trains you to be alert and aware.

4. Stay safe. Safety first! Never run secluded trails alone. The buddy system doesn’t just keep you safe from other unsavory characters, but also, if you were to take a tumble or roll your ankle, you’d want the comfort of knowing someone was there to help.

5. Train in the heat. The temps are still hot. Take advantage! Lather up and (safely) get your heat training on. Check out this Runner’s World article for more.

6. Fuel properly. All that training (especially in the heat) can be hard on the body. So be sure to fuel properly with these tips and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with these tips.

7. Focus on mind over matter. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified to take on this beast of a race. I mean shaking-in-my-boots, wanna-run-away-and-hide kind of terrified. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years of racing, it’s all about mindset. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, it’s going to hurt (like hell). Yes, I’m going to want to quit. BUT I didn’t come this far and train this hard for nothing.

I’m a true believer that if you think positive, positive things will happen. Vice versa, if you think negative, negative things will happen. The moment those “I can’ts” start to creep in, shut ’em down. YOU CAN! Of course things will happen that are out of our control and we must know our body well enough to listen when it’s talking. Push your limits, but know your limits.

With that being said, put your go-getter attitude on, check your fears at the door and get it done! You have three options … give up, give in or give it all you got.

And stay tuned for the upcoming race recap … I can’t wait to share how the race goes!Nichole



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Why Do You Exercise?

I can proudly say that exercise has been a part of my life for a long time. Of course there have been ups and downs, but the important thing is I have stuck with it, and somewhere along the line it became an integral part of who I am. And I couldn’t be happier! But […]


I can proudly say that exercise has been a part of my life for a long time. Of course there have been ups and downs, but the important thing is I have stuck with it, and somewhere along the line it became an integral part of who I am. And I couldn’t be happier! But how does one keep it going? Where do you get the motivation to give up part of your day, year after year, for 39 years? Motivation Through The Decades Teens: Luckily I had a great role model. Mom wasn’t the type to let you lounge around …

The post Why Do You Exercise? appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.



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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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Workout I Did: Murph

My cheatsheet … I’m an athlete not a math-lete. This year, for the first time, I joined my CrossFit community at CrossFit Become in completing Murph. If you’re not familiar, “Murph” is one of CrossFit’s hero WODs — intentionally challenging workouts each named for fallen soldiers to honor their sacrifice in defense of our freedom. Murph is performed by […]


My cheatsheet … I’m an athlete not a math-lete.

This year, for the first time, I joined my CrossFit community at CrossFit Become in completing Murph.

If you’re not familiar, “Murph” is one of CrossFit’s hero WODs — intentionally challenging workouts each named for fallen soldiers to honor their sacrifice in defense of our freedom. Murph is performed by CrossFitters around the world on Memorial Day weekend.

“Murph” the Soldier

This WOD is named for Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy who was killed in action at age 29 on June 28th, 2005, in Afghanistan during a reconnaissance mission. Lt. Murphy was later posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courageous and selfless acts which ultimately led to the recovery of the one surviving member of his SEAL team and the remains of those who were lost on that day. The story of his team is portrayed in the movie “Lone Survivor”.

“Murph” the WOD

As I mentioned earlier, hero WODs are intentionally very tough and as you can tell from the write-up above, this one’s no different. This type of workout is known as a “chipper” in CrossFit — meaning that the reps are high and you “chip” away at it. It’s all about patience, determination and grinding it out.

There are many ways to attack this WOD. Many athletes do the three bodyweight movements in mini-sets, specifically 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats (the rep scheme of the benchmark WOD “Cindy”).

I opted to attack each set in sequence rather than breaking it up into mini-sets. I rationalized that decision like this: I expected the pull-ups to be the hardest for me, followed by the push-ups, but I wasn’t worried at all about the squats. So it made logical sense to me at the time to knock out the most problematic movements first so that the WOD got easier for me as I got more and more fatigued. But, that’s not really the way it played out.

First and foremost, I didn’t wear the weighted vest — chuck that in the “Goals for Next Year” bucket. My first mile was pretty quick, then I took a couple of breaths before diving right into the pull-ups. I made it through the first 65 and then realized I needed to change up my game plan.

At that point, I was only able to bang out a few at a time and the time it took to recover enough to get a few more reps was killing me — especially since I had a one-hour time cap because I was coaching the second heat of Murph. My new plan was to stick with the pull-ups until just before muscle failure, then bang out a few push-ups just to keep the count going so I wasn’t killing so much time just standing around.

Before I knew it, the part I dreaded the most was over and I was on to the push-ups — which ended up being the real killer. Now, I’m pretty strong with push-ups so I really wasn’t expecting it to suck as bad as it did — but it turns out, 200 push-ups is a lot of work.

I was pretty solid until around my 90th push-up, then the breaks I needed to take to gather arm strength got longer and I was regretting not breaking it up into small sets and trying to plow through them in sequence. It was a very long, slow march to 200 as I sprinkled a few sets of squats in there to keep the rep count rolling. Words cannot express how happy I was to be done with the push-ups.

From there, it was fast and furious plowing through the squats, and I was out the door for the final mile. I returned exhausted but feeling really accomplished with a time just under 55 minutes.

Would I do this WOD again? Absolutely (albeit with a very different strategy). As with all chipper workouts, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the shear number of reps still remaining. But every rep is another step closer to completion. You’ve just gotta stay focused and keep moving. In that way, it’s a lot like life.

And the fact that this WOD honors Lt. Murphy and all the brave service members who selflessly defend our freedom and safety made the work so totally worth it. I consider it a privilege to honor them in this way and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Ever completed Murph? —Alison 



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How a Professional Snowboarder Strengthens Her Core

Professional snowboarder Spencer O’Brien is a six-time X Games medalist, Olympian, FIS World Champion, TTR World Champion, Winter Dew Tour Champion and five-year veteran of the Canadian National Team. Whoa, that’s quite the resume, right?! But get this. She first learned to snowboard at age 11, and then turned pro just five years later at […]


Professional snowboarder Spencer O’Brien is a six-time X Games medalist, Olympian, FIS World Champion, TTR World Champion, Winter Dew Tour Champion and five-year veteran of the Canadian National Team.

Whoa, that’s quite the resume, right?!

But get this. She first learned to snowboard at age 11, and then turned pro just five years later at the age of 16. Her career hasn’t been without hardship though. In 2013, O’Brien was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis — just two months before the Sochi Winter Olympics. While dealing with pain and overcoming obstacles to identify the right course of treatment, O’Brien has kept kicking butt in the sport of snowboarding.

And today, we have the workout that helps to keep her core strong and her snowboarding tricks ON POINT.

Spencer O’Brien’s Core Workout

  1. Diagonal plank matrix, 3 x 12: Start in forearm plank position,. Reach out with your left hand, then your right, keeping your torso square. Then push up to full plank and do two mountain climbers. That’s one rep!
  2. Plank arcs, 3 x 6: Spencer’s tip: “Keep your torso square and your bum down.”
  3. Stability ball V-ups, 3 x 12. If you don’t have a ball, you can do these on the floor.
  4. TRX diagonal mountain climbers, 3 x 10: Make sure to do 10 on each side!

Spencer’s Core Workout Video

Kick-ass, right?! Right now Spencer is training to represent Canada at the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games Olympics in 2018 in the Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air disciplines. We wish her so much luck! —Jenn



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Keep Your Back Healthy With These 5 Exercises

Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and […]


Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and more importantly I feel good.

That was until I threw my back out, and no, it did not happen in yoga. I was bending over to pick up a stick; a freakin’ stick!

The doctor said I had overextended my sacroiliac joint due to an anatomical imbalance in my posterior chain. The sacroiliac joint, or SIJ, is the part that connects your sacrum to the pelvis. (You have two, one on each side of your spine. Put your hands on your low back and stretch to find it.) In laymen’s terms, he was nicely saying that while my core strength and flexibility were excellent (thank you, yoga), my backside could use some work.

Ouch.

5 Muscle-Strengthening Exercises for the SIJ

Balance, as always, is key. The SIJ is a finicky little bugger; it needs to move, but just a little. To hit that Goldilocks zone you need to have strong glutes and hams, good core stability and muscle flexibility, plus hip mobility. In other words, you’ve gotta have it all!

The following exercises are recommended to keep the SIJ stable and in good working condition:

1. Bear Crawls. Reciprocal or alternating movements (like the bear crawl) guarantee that both sides of the body put in the same effort.

2. Glute Bridge with March. If you sit all day, your whole body will love this hip-stabilizing exercise.

3. The Plank. On your elbows or with straight arms, do all the planks to strengthen your entire core.

4. Dead BugThis exercise works on coordination, strengthens the core and corrects muscle imbalance.

5. Squats/Split Squats. Our glutes are the strongest muscles in the body; they surround the SIJ and keep it and the pelvis stable.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and function; it starts in our thirties. Even if you work out every day, you’ll still lose some! It sucks, but it’s a fact of life. It’s estimated that 25 percent of all low-back pain is caused by the SIJ. Work these exercise into your regular routine to keep your back strong and pain-free.

Is your workout routine balanced? Since my injury, I have continued with my daily yoga (the benefits are too great to stop), but have added two days of strength training to my routine and have been pain-free ever since. —Karen



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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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Meet the Mom Who Plans to Run 100 Miles in 24 Hours

In a few days, on June 24 and 25, 48-year-old mom Bree Lambert will run The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. As if that accomplishment itself weren’t impressive, inspiring, exhausting, challenging or simply amazing enough, her goal is to finish with a time under 24 hours. If you’re not familiar with this racing format (or maybe even […]


In a few days, on June 24 and 25, 48-year-old mom Bree Lambert will run The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. As if that accomplishment itself weren’t impressive, inspiring, exhausting, challenging or simply amazing enough, her goal is to finish with a time under 24 hours.

If you’re not familiar with this racing format (or maybe even if you are!), this can be difficult to truly conceptualize. The average finishing time for females in 2014 for a 100-mile race was 28 hours and 34 minutes. But still, the harder part to understand is what that experience is really like.

The course covers rugged mountain trails from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Cali. (or basically Lake Tahoe to Sacramento). Competitors will run through freezing temperatures high in the mountains to temperatures greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert.

Bree Lambert is the USA Track and Field Masters Ultra Runner of the Year (Mountain Division), and she took the time to share some insight into her race preparation ahead of her 70th ultramarathon and second time running this race. 

Bree has spent the past six months preparing for this race. She ran a 50-km (31-mile) race in February, a 50-mile race in April, and another 50-km in May. She runs about 65 miles per week. She regularly mixes in hilly trail climbing, long runs and 8- to 10-mile tempo road runs.

Some of the most important aspects of finishing a race like this include mental toughness, nutritional planning and pacing strategy.

“The physical component is important,” she says, “but if you don’t know how to fuel right and pace properly, your fitness ultimately won’t matter.”

She has a crew of five people plus her husband and 16-year-old daughter to help her stay on track during the race. The team keeps her properly fueled (with avocados, nut butter wraps, bars and soup, in addition to amino acid supplements), and her family will literally keep her on track by finishing out the last 38 and 2 miles respectively. Bree is especially excited about her daughter’s participation.

Bree always makes time for her daughter despite her demanding schedule.

“We always carve out mother-daughter time,” she says. “She knows she is top priority, and if there is ever a conflict with a race or training plan that might interfere with something that matters, I do not hesitate for a second to change what I am doing to accommodate her schedule.”

Not only is Bree a competitive racer and dedicated mom, she is also a trainer and nutritionist. To achieve balance with so many “moving parts,” as she calls them, she practices her mantra: Live well. Bree eats a predominantly plant-based diet, but she says she craves protein after races and usually eats a good turkey burger and french fries.

If you’re still wondering what could possibly make someone want to run 100 miles (more than once!?), wonder no more: Bree is passionate about running and finds it therapeutic. She focuses on her mantra.

“If we can allow ourselves to stretch our minds a bit more and embrace the discomfort of what we are facing (and) believe we can get to the finish line,” she says, “what we discover is an ability to grow and experience what might otherwise have seemed impossible.”

While running, she practices gratitude.

“It helps me put things in perspective when I hit a low point,” she says. “I have overcome so much in my life and pinch myself that I get to live this incredible life doing what I love. I am still blown away.”

She says the best advice she has ever received was from her husband: “Run your own race.” She offered some of her own advice to all runners: “Go face your mountains, and climb them one at a time. Endurance is developed over time at the cost of hard work and discomfort, but it’s so worth it.”

Good luck in this incredible endeavor, Bree!

Would you ever consider running an endurance race like this? What do you think of Bree’s experience and advice? —Megan 



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How to Successfully Transition From Road Running to Trail Running

Are you a road runner who wants to venture onto less-traveled trails? If running the same paved route is starting to feel monotonous, then developing your trail-running skills and spending more time in a natural environment could be your ticket to better — and happier — running and fitness. But many women view trail running […]


Are you a road runner who wants to venture onto less-traveled trails? If running the same paved route is starting to feel monotonous, then developing your trail-running skills and spending more time in a natural environment could be your ticket to better — and happier — running and fitness.

But many women view trail running with some apprehension, because they’re unsure of how to navigate the terrain, how to stay safe, and what trail-specific gear to get. A new book, The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras, delivers everything a gal (and guy) needs to know to hit the trail. Written by trail-running coach Sarah Lavender Smith — a 48-year-old working mom of two teens, whose running resume includes several top finishes at 70-plus marathons and ultras — the book is both a practical training guide and an inspiring read full of real-life trail tales. (For example, want to know what it’s like to get your period unexpectedly at Mile 12 of your first 50-mile race? Read the section, “How to Pee, Poop, and Deal With Your Period on the Trail.”)

The Trail Runner’s Companion goes beyond coaching technique; it also reveals the ethos and spirit of the sport. In this excerpt from Chapter 1, Sarah explains how to develop a trail runner’s mindset, to successfully transition from road to trail. (Excerpted with permission from The Trail Runner’s Companion, which can be purchased here. For more info on Sarah and trail running, check out her blog, TheRunnersTrip.com. )

The First Step: Think and Act Like a Trail Runner

The first thing to realize is this: Trail running is about more than the physical surface you’re running on and the environment surrounding you. It’s a mindset, an attitude, even a culture.

This mindset, and the culture around the sport of trail running, tends to be:

  • More flexible than prescribed about pace, elevation change, and terrain
  • More adventurous than cautious
  • More inclined to run by feel than by data output
  • More unplugged than attached to and distracted by devices
  • More interested in going long and steady than short and fast
  • More friendly than standoffish
  • More humble than arrogant

6 Ways to Adopt a Trail Runner’s Mindset

David Laney, of Ashland, Oregon, was named UltraRunning Magazine’s 2015 “Ultrarunner of the Year” because of his accomplishments at prestigious, ultra-distance trail races. But he also is a 2:17 road marathoner, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about crossing over from road racing to long-distance trail running.

When asked during an interview with UltraRunnerPodcast.com if he had any advice for runners who are just starting to get into trail running, his answer nicely captured the trail runner’s mindset:

“The biggest thing is to just kind of chill,” he said. “The trails are really, really different. The intensity is different, the way it beats you up is different; it’s really fun, but you have to take it slow at first.”

Beyond “chill,” how can you act and think more like a trail runner? Try these:

1. Be exploratory and even playful during your regular road runs. If you always run the same sidewalk on the same loop around your neighborhood, deviate from the route to explore a side street. Hop off the sidewalk, over the curb, and weave in and out of the street (avoiding traffic, of course) so your sidewalk run incorporates subtle shifts and movements in different directions, as in trail running. If you spot a grassy area, run across it just for fun. If you run past a parking structure, run up the stairwell and down the ramps. Even on a familiar road route, challenge yourself to try new things or go new places while running.

2. Make at least one of your weekly runs a trail run in a mostly natural environment. Over the weekend, plan your schedule of runs and workouts for the coming week; find a time and place to fit in a trail run. Research trails and choose a new one to explore. Make a commitment and look forward to this special run.

3. On both your road runs and trail runs, don’t be distracted by your phone. Turn off its notifications, and pack it away in a pocket or hydration pack rather than carrying it in your hand, so you’re not tempted to look at it and check messages or social media. Also, try running without music. You might find this boring at first. That’s the point: to develop patience and tune into your present surroundings, which can trigger some of your best thinking. Save your music and podcasts for extra-long, multi-hour runs when it’s okay to tune out for an hour or so.

4. Pay attention. Cultivate mindfulness — an awareness of your present surroundings. Open your ears and eyes to what’s around you. This is for your own safety, because on trail runs, paying attention is key to avoiding hazards. A keen awareness of your surroundings will help prevent you from bonking your head on a low tree limb or tripping over a root.

5. Minimize the amount you check your GPS during your run. Many runners become addicted to the pace and mileage settings on their high-tech watches. On trail terrain, measurements of average pace and cumulative distance are more likely to be inaccurate or lag behind real time. The signals that track your location and speed can be imprecise when you’re in a remote, woodsy environment with steep switchbacks, for example. You may find yourself frustrated if the pace and distance showing on your watch is noticeably different from what you feel to be accurate. Just chill out and ignore what your watch or smartphone GPS app says! Listen to your body instead. But keep your GPS running so that you have a general sense of how far you have gone, and at the end of your run, you’ll have a somewhat precise, but not perfect, tally of your miles and average pace. Don’t worry that you’re going “too slow” if your watch says your pace is a minute or more slower than you anticipated. Aim for less quantifiable, more intuitive efficiency and steadiness on the trail.

6. Smile. Seriously, smiling will help you feel better and run better! When you smile at others or just smile for the sake of smiling, even if you inwardly feel grumpy or fatigued and don’t genuinely want to smile, you are doing at least three beneficial things: spreading your joy and making other people more inclined to be friendly; improving your running form by relaxing your facial muscles and the tension in your upper body; and, increasing your odds of feeling and performing better for the remainder of your run. Think “fake it ’til you make it”; by smiling and acting positive, even if it’s somewhat faked or forced, you are increasing the likelihood that you actually will feel better. Trail runners “grin and bear it” — that is, they suffer discomfort during their runs with stoicism and humor — and by doing so, they work through those low points.

The only question is now, what trail will you hit first? —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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