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Laura’s Newest Love: PILOXING®

IMG_3363A change of seasons is the perfect time to think about mixing up your health and fitness routine. On this first Motivation Monday of the summer of 2014, I can report I certainly kicked my favorite season with a bang!

Yesterday, I learned all about an incredible fitness program called PILOXING®. The concept, developed by Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, combines Pilates, boxing and dance to create a super high-energy interval workout. At the end of the 60-minute master class that kicked off the eight-hour instructor training day, my heart was pounding, my clothes were drenched in sweat – and I was hooked.

What exactly did I love about this workout? Each jab or uppercut I threw wearing half-pound weighted gloves made me feel powerful. Every standing Pilates move made my muscles feel longer and my body seem more graceful. And every hip shake I belted out through the dance sections simply made me smile – and sweat even more. Add some killer tunes and a hands-on training day led by two PILOXING® powerhouses – Jordan Ballard and Amy Gilberg – and I ended up having the most energized Sunday I can remember in forever!

with "Amy G," Master Trainer of New York

With Amy Gilberg,  New York Master Trainer

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile may remember Amy’s name from some of my earliest posts. She’s not only the PILOXING® Master Trainer for New York, she’s one of my fabulous fitness friends who encouraged me to get certified in the industry back in 2011. Being a participant in her first certification workshop made the day extra special and extra fun!

I have some work ahead of me before I can teach my first class, but yesterday’s workshop gave me a solid foundation to get started. It also gave me some continuing education credits to use toward my AFAA recertification which is coming up quickly in September. If you’d like more information about my newest fitness addiction, you can check out the PILOXING® website. Remember, finding a workout that works for you is the key to sticking with your health and fitness routine. When you need to inject some fresh energy to that routine, trying out new group exercise dynamics can help. If you happen to find one that makes you feel like you can handle whatever life throws your way at the end of a workout, even better!

with Jordan Ballard, US Master Trainer

With Jordan Ballard, US Master Trainer

Whatever is on your agenda for the summer ahead, be sure to mix things up and let me know what new finds help keep you moving. Here’s to a great season filled with plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy June!

My recent vacation in Florida has me dreaming of beach workouts to come!

My recent vacation in Florida has me dreaming of beach workouts to come!

I’m not sure how it happened, but here we are three days in to the month of June!

This Motivation Monday post comes courtesy of an Internet search where I looked into what “celebrations” take place this month. Turns out there are several things going on that tie in with the healthy-living theme here at LauraLovesFitness. Did you know June is:

  • National Safety Month. In fact, this week is National CPR & AED Awareness Week.  While I recently renewed my certifications with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America, it turns out my CPR and AED certification with the American Red Cross expires at the end of the month. So it’s time for me to take a refresher course and get up to speed! I encourage everyone to consider taking a CPR / AED class. Even if you don’t work in the health or fitness industry, you never know when someone you care about could need your help in an emergency.
  • National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. This is my favorite time of year to snack on juicy peaches and nectarines; plump blueberries; sweet strawberries and refreshing watermelon.  Check out this great recipe for watermelon salad. (Thanks, Snack Girl!) Looking for a portable snack that can also help you beat the heat? Give frozen grapes a try!
  • Great Outdoors Month. No time like the present to go explore that park or hiking trail in a town near you. With sunlight lasting longer, why not add some minutes to your evening walk or spend a little more time on the bike trail. Get the whole family involved with a fun game of Frisbee or old-fashioned tag in the backyard.  The sky’s the limit when you take your activity routine outside! (Need some ideas? Click here for a second look at my park-bench workout video)
  • National Tennis Month. I was a varsity tennis player in high school, but am sorry to say I stopped playing when I got to college. I’ve always wanted to get back in the game as tennis is an amazing sport to build cardiovascular endurance, balance, strength and coordination. If you’ve ever thought of giving the sport a try, make this the month you go for it!

As June also brings us to the halfway point for 2013 (yikes!), this is also the perfect time to assess where you’re at in reaching your health and fitness goals for the year. Maybe it’s time to take things up a notch or simply add some new workouts and healthy foods into your daily routine. Remember, mixing things up is a surefire ways to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Don’t Forget to Rest!

Don't Forget to Rest! Photo by Leslie Hassler

It seems like yesterday I was looking forward to wrapping up 2011 with some down time and here we are cranking away at the near mid-month mark of January 2012! For those of you who’ve kicked your fitness resolutions in the butt by pounding the pavement or hitting the gym every single day since the New Year started, let me first be the first to offer a big, congratulatory pat on the back. Now I want you to take a day off!

You might be saying, “but Laura, you’re on Twitter, you know it’s #Workout Wednesday!” I didn’t say you have to make today your off-day, but you do need a minimum of one rest day during the week.

A rest day allows the body to recover from the stress of exercise and presents an opportunity for muscular repair and recovery of the central nervous system. Pushing your body day after day at the same group exercise class or on the same weight training circuit or along the same 5-mile route is one of the quickest paths to burning out on your routine. This can be especially true for anyone who’s new to a workout routine or just coming back after a lengthy hiatus.

The possibility of a mental meltdown aside, continuously pushing the body to the limit puts you at risk for overtraining. The following are some of the symptoms to look out for to determine if you’re overdoing it:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Increased resting blood pressure
  • Slower recovery after exercise
  • Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Disinterest in sex
  • Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
  • Increased numbers of colds / sore throats (shows decreased immunity)
  • Decreased appetite

From what I learned through my NASM and AFAA studies, a good training frequency for the fitness newbie or anyone returning after a hiatus is three resistance workouts each week. This allows you to work your muscle groups with 48 hours of recovery in between. Cardio can be done on the in-between days or even on the same day. Even more seasoned athletes should give a muscle group a 48-hour rest period before pushing it to the limit again. Another good rule of thumb is to mix up your routine with cross training. Although I’m excited to take as many Zumba® classes as possible to continue my teaching prep, I’ll be sure to spread the classes out throughout the week. The same should be applied to your favorite cardio kickbox class or your favorite at-home DVD workout.

For those of you who can’t fathom even one day without any activity, turn your run into a long, leisurely walk or substitute your favorite cardio class with an extra-long session of stretching. In fact, the good news about flexibility training is that it can be done every single day of the week!

The bottom line is to remember taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. Rest is an important component of any fitness routine because it gives your body the energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Learn More About LauraLovesFitness

Many thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to make this blogging adventure so much fun! Please check out the video below to learn a bit more about why I want to help more people have fun, be fit and feel fabulous in 2012…and beyond!

Many thanks to director/producer Larry Saperstein and the crew at C & C Studios for their help with this production and to editor extraordinaire Rob Romas for putting it together. (Check out Rob’s new business Sports Media Recruit which provides video resumes for student athletes.)

The Benefits of Group Exercise

Boxing? Yoga? There's a Class Out There for You!

Every Tuesday night for the past six years, unless I was sick, on vacation or on the road for work, you’d find me in the front right corner of the group exercise studio in the New York Sports Club near my office sweating it out in my favorite class of the week. “Club Strength” utilizes free weights and weight plates for a total body workout of resistance training. Add the kick-butt choreography and music selections from fitness instructor Wayne Sims, and you have all the makings for a class that gets the heart rate going and brings on the burn in all your muscle groups.  I absolutely love how I feel when I leave this class.

Of course, even Wayne has to take a vacation or sick day now and then and a substitute instructor fills in.  Unfortunately, the sub who filled in tonight just didn’t do it for me.  I’m not here to name names or bad-mouth anyone, as everyone has their own teaching style and technique. Maybe some of the other class regulars enjoyed tonight’s workout.  For me, it was simply disappointing to leave the gym without my normal Tuesday night rush.

While this let-down won’t prevent me from going back to the gym tomorrow, I realize one not-so-hot class experience can wreak havoc on your fitness goals if you’re just getting started on a workout routine.  You decide to take the plunge and join a gym, you try a class and then you simply hate it.  Well, here’s what I say about that predicament: don’t despair and don’t give up!

There are so many different classes available today that it would be hard not to find something you like. Whether it’s “old school” aerobics, spinning, boxing, core conditioning, Pilates or yoga, there really is something for everyone at every skill level. Group classes can be intense, but between the heart-pounding music and the contagious energy of your instructor and classmates, it’s a fun way to get a great workout – sometimes in less than an hour.  Enjoying all these benefits for so many years and wanting to spread the fun to others is what led me to study and become a Certified Group Exercise Instructor with the Aerobics & Fitness Assocation of America (AFAA).

Like many other activities in life, when it comes to exercise, you need to find something you like doing so you can stick with it. Participating in group exercise classes can be a great way to find your own groove on how to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitness & Footwear

Like many women, I love shoes. I love them even more when I find a great pair at one of the discount shoe paradises that have popped up all over the country. There is one type of shoe, however, that I will gladly pay full price for if I have to, and that would be my sneakers. Why? Because wearing the proper footwear while you workout is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from exercise-related injuries.

Here’s a little trivia for you: there are 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons in each foot.  (No, I didn’t have those numbers memorized, I looked them up in AFAA’s Fitness: Theory & Practice, Fifth Edition.) That means there are 370 places vulnerable to injury in your feet alone.  Now consider that improper foot support can lead to compensations made by your knees and hips, and you are putting your body at risk for a world of hurt.

So, what’s the best footwear? It depends on your foot type.  If you have a high arch, you need sneakers with good shock absorption. If your feet are flat and/or “roll” inward or outward, you need a sneaker with stability. An “average” foot needs a shoe with both cushioning and stability.

I don’t know your foot type, but I can tell you what works for me.  Since my fitness routine includes walking, elliptical training, riding the stationery recumbent bike, rowing, and weight training, cross trainers keep me well-grounded and stable. I started wearing New Balance cross trainers five years ago (I currently wear the 1011s), and I get a new pair every six months.  I can honestly say if I wait longer than six months, I start to feel pain in my knees while I’m on the elliptical or while doing squats and lunges.   My current pair are two months old, and at the moment, I wear them with orthotics as I continue to recover from a stress fracture in my left foot.  (A subject for a future blog.)

While I am not a runner, most of my friends who are will only pound the pavement in running sneakers.  I also have friends who have sneakers specifically for when they’re on the tennis court. Many basketball players like high tops for the extra ankle stability. If there is one sport you play often, it’s a good idea to get a pair of sneakers specifically for that activity, and also have a more “universal” pair, like cross trainers, for days when you mix up your routine.

I look at it this way: I have far too many purses in my closet and most guys have more ties than they will ever need.  So why wouldn’t you spend the money to have at least one good pair of sneakers to protect you from injuries while you’re working so hard to stay healthy?

In the end, wearing the proper footwear is one of the easiest ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Beat the Heat

Photo by Laura DeAngelis

Toward the end of this wonderful weekend, I headed to our rooftop deck to enjoy my weekly “guilty pleasure” of reading the latest People magazine cover to cover.  Despite my SPF 30 sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses and big water bottle, I only lasted an hour. The heat was just too much, and I was just lying around reading. Which made me realize this is the perfect time for a refresher course on heat-related emergencies.

With a little help from the textbooks I used to study for my AFAA and NASM exams (Fitness: Theory & Practice, Fifth Edition and NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Third Edition), here’s what you need to know if you or someone you’re working out with experiences any of the following:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising, find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink cool water.

Heat exhaustion: This is a step up in severity from heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering and drink cool water.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal body temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: As with heat exhaustion, get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

A few preventive steps to remember:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather.
  • If you are being treated for cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are any medications, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with these two final and important tips:

  • Do not hesitate to call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

While it’s the perfect time to get outside and get moving, use some extra care so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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