Tag Archives: exercise ideas

The No-Human-Power-Can-Make-Me-Leave-The-House-Today Workout

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-20 Celsius. Enough said.

Here’s what to do when the prospect of stepping out and having your nose fall off is just too much to bear.

 

Warmup:

50 jumping jacks

Active stretching

 

Workout:

1st Set:

-5 burpees

-10 squats (I went for full range of motion variation, or Ass to Grass, as they’re commonly known)

Rest 30 seconds

 

2nd Set:

-8 burpees

-15 squats

Rest 45 sec.

 

3rd Set:

-10 burpees

-20 squats

Rest 1 min.

 

THE ASS TO GRASS SQUAT:

Baby squats

Squat, baby, squat. No baby required, though.

 

... and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

… and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

 

2 sets each of:

-30 side lunges (15 reps each side)

-20 glute bridge

Rest 30 sec. in between

 

THE SIDE LUNGE:

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don't allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position.

… then bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don’t allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position. Repeat 15x with the same leg, then switch.

 

THE GLUTE BRIDGE:

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

 

 

... then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps-- it's just a dynamic up-and-down.

… then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps– it’s just a dynamic up-and-down.

To finish:

– 3 sets of 1 minute planks.

Rest 30 sec. in between each

 

Plank: Don't arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

Plank: Don’t arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

 

Stretch.

 

And there you have a full body exercise (albeit with a bit more emphasis on lower body, which is the way I like it) that doesn’t even require any equipment. This works endurance and strength. Extra points if you use your baby, your fat cat, or any other creative prop for additional resistance.

I really don’t want to say this but I have to say it because YEAH. If you’re exercising with your baby (or your cat for that matter) use common sense and if something feels unsafe/off/too tough put the child down. Put. the child. down. But you’re smart peeps and you know this already, right? Right.

Exercise During Pregnancy? Don’t Mind If I Do

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“Oh, look at that pregnant woman waddle! I bet she walks funny out of muscle soreness from performing series of lunges, squats and deadlifts.” Said NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true, few people would believe this pregnant mom’s waddle walk is at times consequence of physical exercise. BUT IT IS. Sometimes. Other times I’m just being a normal preggo.

So let’s talk about activity during pregnancy. Or its alternative title: I’m pregnant, not dying. Yes I’m allowed to move.

Indistinct to, oh, every expectant woman in the history of the modern western world, I have been on the receiving end of advice suggesting that I should “take it easy” and “rest while it’s still possible” before the baby comes. I’ve yet to understand the logic behind this.

Of course there are situations in which a medical condition makes it difficult or even risky for mum to be active, and I’m not here to argue with that. What’s more, there are moms that consciously choose to not do anything during their baby’s gestation and I find that totally understandable (hey, it is a choice.) But what about the standard, normal pregnancy in which both mom and bub could benefit from activity, and there are no legitimate reasons (medical or otherwise) for passiveness?

I’m a true believer of being in tune with one’s body and following its cues– and if you ask me, everyone should be practicing this, not just pregnant women– but I’ve yet to understand why we feel so compelled to warn mom against doing “too much”. How much is that, exactly?

Childbirth is not only one of the most important athletic events in a woman’s life, it is also one of endurance. It’s like the Olympics but of life, and instead of a golden medal you get a chubby baby to snarfle on at the end of your race. You bet your ass I’m training.

Speaking of Olympics, what about Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who competed in London at almost eight months pregnant?

My personal logic says that if all is well and in order, and the mom is already used to a certain rhythm of exercise, it isn’t necessary to stop. Some modifications may be suitable, some days may feel not as great… but as long as mom is paying attention to what her body says, no harm is done. Most of all, exercise your common sense.

Here is what I do.

For cardio: Zumba

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep up with teaching two hours of Zumba per week feeling great. I was already used to this kind of exercise and have been able to maintain the pace throughout my pregnancy (I’m on week 34 and still going). Not only do my lungs and heart get a workout, it’s dance: it makes me feel happy, energized, alive. I credit this for keeping me in such a great mood and believing I can accomplish my goals. Find your thing, whatever makes you smile, and stick with it for as long as it feels right.

Now, in my Zumba class there’s a lot of hip movement, a lot of booty shaking, and a lot of whining down. Add all this to the weight of a growing baby on the bladder and things can get awkward. Straight up I can tell you nothing terrible has happened and there have been no accidents, but it does feel kind of funny/weird at times. How do I deal? I got me one of these prenatal support bands.  It sure has helped alleviate some of the pressure thus making me feel more comfortable while I dance, but don’t think you have to shell out the $15 plus shipping for results– it’s nothing more than a wide strip of elastic with hooks. That’s it. Make it yourself and even better because you’ll set the hooks to close exactly where you want them to.

For flexibility: Yoga

During pregnancy there is a release of relaxin, a hormone our wise body produces to make our joints stretchy and limber in preparation for birth. Relaxin is the reason we need to be careful not to over stretch. It’s a matter of paying attention to how our body is feeling, and remembering that this isn’t the best moment to attempt twisting into a pretzel for the first time.

As much as I would love to go to a prenatal yoga class, truth is the budget doesn’t allow for that right now. The good news is, there’s still a way to get our yoga in. Video, baby! I follow Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga video in the comfort of my living room and frumpiness of my pj’s. I find this video very easy to follow, even for a beginner, as it clearly explains modifications for women in second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

*Many thanks to Angelina, Amy and Christine, all whom in one way or another made it possible I have this video now. Teehee!

For muscle strength: Strength training

Squats and I are like BFFs now. Word. Hey, I figure I’ll be doing my share of squatting at the moment of birthing my baby, so might as well get all the practice I can get.

For obvious reasons I can’t do situps, but I keep my core in check with planks.

For upper body strength I mostly go for dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Bicep curls, triceps kicks, shoulder press, chest press (with plenty of breaks and attention to how I feel– lying on our back isn’t the most recommended thing during the third trimester), upward rows… the possibilities are endless.

For mental sanity, entertainment, and fun: Random things

Hiking

Fun in nature, fresh air, a workout. Extra points for dragging your friends along.

Swimming

Being so light and buoyant in the water feels ridiculously wonderful.

Rock climbing

Fun challenge trying to keep the body close to the rock wall with a 7.5 month pregnant belly. Totally doable, quite enjoyable.

Canoeing

My shoulders, back, and core really felt the workout with the paddling. Very relaxing once I got over the fear of flipping over.

And when all else fails… walk.
Walk to the post office, to the store, to the library, around your block. You don’t have to act like an elite athlete every single day of your pregnancy, and chances are you will have many days, like I do, in which there isn’t a hint of desire to move. That’s ok, those days have their place, too. When I feel ready to get going again walking helps me start slow and get back on track.

I really want to be clear and say it is not my intention in the least to make other moms feel bad if it hasn’t been possible or desirable for them to stay active while pregnant. Nor do I wish to set a bar for others to compare themselves and decide if they’ve been a better or worse expectant mom than I. This is just my personal experience, so different from my first pregnancy, and we’re each on our individual path to follow with our own lessons to be learned.

I have received many benefits from staying active. Forget about the physical benefits… the mental ones, holy cow! I don’t know how I would be feeling right now if I hadn’t stayed as mobile. It’s as if keeping myself reasonably challenged has lit a spark inside– I feel happy, accomplished, relaxed and peaceful. This process has reminded me to trust my body because it is capable of achieving many wonderful things. I’m very grateful.

For more information on exercise and pregnancy, read Precision Nutrition’s article on How To Exercise During Pregnancy.

If you think I’m a mean workout machine, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

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I’m certainly not one of those who’s always all OMG RUN YEAAAH or I CAN’T WAIT TO GET TO THE GYM. No. I procrastinate, I look for excuses, I work trade-offs with myself in my head. I’m a pretty regular human being most of the time.

I think the only difference is that I’m aware of the tricks I play on myself. I recognize the voice in my head, and I know it’s lying. Maybe I don’t need to work out, maybe I don’t have to work out. Most of the time I don’t necessarily want to work out. What I do want, what I do like, are the results. I love feeling strong, I like seeing my body defined. It makes me happy when I can do things I couldn’t do before. And because I enjoy the results, I know the work that must be put into achieving them is worth my time.

This doesn’t mean that I’m automatically transformed into a work out beast. Right now, after over three weeks of doing ZILCH (because I was away for holidays in Mexico visiting my family, whom I hadn’t seen in three years) I’m discovering I need to coax myself into starting over.

For some people it may work great to just dive into the madness of spending hours exercising after a period of inactivity. Not for me– at least not this time around. My approach is beginning slowly, building back up to where I was pre-vacation. And I think I found the perfect way to start!

I just came across this website, myfreeyoga.com, and found it to be a great resource. It’s full of free yoga class videos, and I did this session this morning, in my house, still in my pj’s– so no excuses as to why I couldn’t. It felt great to get moving, but OY. So many things cracked and popped, and my muscles were super stiff– a big wake-up call as to how weeks of inactivity slowly creep in and regress a bit of what we’ve worked hard to achieve.But, it only gets better from here :)

So, if you’re looking for a way to get back into the exercise mindset, but haven’t been able to convince yourself to hit the gym or train for a marathon, you may find it beneficial to start slow like I did. It doesn’t matter how small or slow you start. JUST START.

Girl, when someone tells you that you’re going to get big, bulky and gross if you lift weights punch them in the face

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Or direct them to this article. You know, either- or.

(I kid. Please don’t punch people in the face. Maybe just swing a kettlebell at them.)

I came across this set of two articles written by none other than John M. Berardi himself. I attended his talk at the Canfitpro conference in Toronto this year.

Most of what he said resonated with me and I have educated myself further on his nutrition techniques, his coaching challenges and his research.

 

Now, before you click the link that will take you to the articles, be forewarned: Please do not brush the information off  by thinking this isn’t for me just because the website where the articles are posted is called bodybuilding.com. This website is a wonderful source of exercise ideas, with very well explained instructional videos, all neatly organized and separated by very helpful categories. If you’d like to get fit and have no friggin’ clue of what to do at the gym, surf around bodybuilding.com and I can assure you the weight room suddenly won’t seem as intimidating. On a side note, I would just recommend maybe ignoring all their advertising for supplements and enhancers; intelligent and informed decisions in this area are a must.

I particularly enjoyed Berardi’s articles because he tackles the biggest myth when it comes to women who lift weights: they’ll get bulky and masculine. Go and read his explanation of why this is not possible. Also? Extra points for him for being on our side and rejecting the notion that girls are wilting little flowers who can’t muster up the strength to change their body for the better. Enjoy!

Lean, Sexy, Hard: Weight training for Women, by John M. Berardi

 

 

Functional training

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Most people equate working out with going to the gym, and while this notion may be correct for some it has nothing to do with the things I do in my daily training. I don’t go to a gym, I work out at the studio where I work as a trainer. The main difference between a gym and a studio is that while at the gym you can expect to find lots of big and heavy machines, a studio will likely focus more on having the tools necessary for functional training. The latter is the kind of training I do.

Basically, it’s called ‘functional’ because it adheres closer to the movements we use and the way we function in real, everyday life. For the most part, gym machines limit the range of motion one can accomplish with a muscle, but working that same muscle with dumbbells, medicine balls, elastics, plates, and bars allows it to mobilize in many different ways and angles, activating a larger amount of fibers, and thus making it — in my opinion– a more effective work out.

This is what a typical training session can look like for us; this time we were working core and abs, and my friend Angelina played photographer while the boss and I got our workout done.

We started with crunches on the bench. I can’t remember how many we did but I remember the burn. Oh, the burn.

 

After that we moved on to full sit-ups with a medicine ball (no swinging it!)

 

Then holding a plate in front of the chest and rotating the torso from side to side, all while keeping balance kneeling on the Bosu. Lovely.

Also, bear in mind this are just phone pictures, hence the crapiness. (Or maybe I’m just too damn fast to be photographed. YEAH.)

 

Then a gazillion leg lifts with three thousand pounds of ankle weights. My grimace of pain and my screaming back muscle in this picture tell you that I hardly exaggerate.

This is but a snippet of what goes on in our training session. Awesome workouts are accomplished with not one single conventional gym machine. I love functional training because to me it’s a lot more fun than going to the gym; it allows for imagination and initiative. So many inventive ways to suffer, weeee!

Kickbox bootcamp

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Now that I’ve had the chance to organize my thoughts and the lessons learned at the Canfitpro conference, I’ll dive right in and share with you exactly what I learned.

Let’s start with the very first class I took, Kickbox bootcamp.

As the term bootcamp requires, this was a high-energy class with lots of movement going on at all times. Here’s a snippet of what we did:

In pairs

-Moving forward while holding a resistance band with arms extended in front of your body, and your partner is pulling the band behind you (working almost like a leash).

-Moving forward while pushing the band away from you, extending one arm in front at a time.

-Running while your partner holds you back with the band around your waist.

-Running sideways with the right in front leg first, with partner offering the same resistance.

-Running sideways  with the left leg in front, with partner still holding you back by the band.

-Doing a bear crawl– you guessed it– with your partner still trying to pull you back with the band.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, this is what a bear crawl looks like:

Except it’s nowhere near that fast when you have someone holding you back with all their might.

 

After this we put down the bands and exchanged them for gloves and targets.

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 squat kicks (like the name describes, you squat and front kick with one leg. Squat and kick with the other)

-Combo: 20 punches, 20 knee strikes

Super fun because you get to grab your partner by the shoulders and pull them down to strike. Also, great core workout!

 

Then we moved positions so that one person was lying on their back on the floor, while the partner was kneeling in front holding the targets.

-Combo: Situp, elbow strike (come up in a situp, do and elbow strike with right elbow, come back down to the floor. Situp again, strike with left elbow, repeat)

-Resistance: The person on the floor would come up in a situp and hold the position, while the partner would try to push them back, to the left and to the right. Burn!

 

After that came my favorite set:

-Striker on the floor, partner standing over them with feet by striker’s hips. The striker had to bring their shoulders off the ground and punch 20 times. My abs were screaming with this one.

-Switch! Striker now stands up while partner is on the ground, striking down as hard and fast as possible.

 

I found kickboxing to be great fun and it’s something I definitely want to try again!