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Gearing Up for a Fun, Fit and Fabulous Summer!

BeachI hope this rare Tear-It-Up Tuesday post finds everyone doing well after a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend! Now that we’ve unofficially kicked off the summer of 2016, I thought I’d offer three quick tips to get your mind and body ready for my favorite season of the year.

  1. Stretch, stretch and stretch some more! Whether your new routine involves outdoor boot camps or beach volleyball games, a lot of us are using some muscles that haven’t seen some action in awhile. Be sure to stretch and stay hydrated to keep the aches and pain to a minimum and help prevent injuries.
  2. Don’t ignore the core! Many of us are breaking a sweat on unstable terrain so it’s important to keep the core muscles strong to maintain good balance and prevent falls. Whether you’re running, swimming or playing a game of pick-up, taking five extra minutes to add some planks and crunches to your routine can keep your center of gravity strong and keep you on your feet!
  3. Time for new kicks? I believe every should replace their athletic shoes every six months to make sure you have solid support for your activities. If you’re buying a new bathing suit or other summertime gear, why not add a new pair of sneakers to your closet, too?

Looking for a few tools to help with your summer of fitness fun? The three-minute below offers a few ideas. My thanks to Me + My, Arnicare and Halo for giving me the opportunity to be the spokesperson for their products and to the team at Vidicom for another great production. After you check out the video, get out there and enjoy the abbreviated work week and all the opportunities  ahead to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Quick Hits

iStock_000018191976XSmallOnly one way to say this: it was a hell of a week. So on this Motivation Monday, I’m offering a simple post with three simple tips to get you even more excited about the start of spring!

  1. Leave the winter behind: Did you pretty much hibernate all season, skip gym classes or miss those daily runs thanks to dangerous weather conditions? Maybe you indulged in more than your fair share of calorie-loaded comfort foods. Don’t sweat it. Leave the sins of the past where they belong, take note of any updates to the spring schedule at your gym and stock up on some colorful produce and healthy food options. It’s time to get your mind focused on a fresh start!
  2. Don’t forget your core: It’s been awhile since I reminded everyone about the importance of incorporating core strengthening exercises into any fitness routine. I know everyone’s excited to start pounding the non-snow covered pavement for long runs and enjoy some outdoor calorie-burning fun like basketball and softball. If you’ve been less active than normal all winter, do your body a favor and don’t forget to incorporate some planks, crunches and bridges into your daily routine. You can do them when you first roll out of bed, when you’re watching TV or just add five more minutes to your workout at the gym. Click here for a reminder of some of my favorite core exercises.
  3. Workout for your skin: Spring makeovers are all the rage right now. I’m here to remind you of another great benefit of exercise – it’s a natural way to make your skin more radiant! Exercise improves circulation which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your skin. It’s also been shown to reduce wrinkle-causing inflammation.

So, there you have it. Three easy reminders on how some easy tweaks to your spring routine can help you stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

FINALLY Getting In On the SUP Craze!

IMG_0135Think you can’t get a good workout and have fun at the same time? Then you need to give stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) a whirl!

I’ve been wanting to get in on this growing craze for a long time and finally took the plunge last weekend in Nantucket. After the first 60-minute attempt, I understood why nearly one-point-two million people gave SUP a try in 2013. It’s an activity that can help anyone improve balance and strength regardless of his or her fitness level. The bonus: if you wipe out – which I did at least a half-dozen times – you get a nice shot of cool refreshment to motivate you to get back up on the board.

Why does SUP provide such a good workout? It’s simple: in order to remain upright and propel yourself in the water, you need to stay balanced. That means you use virtually every muscle in your body to stand on a surface which can grow increasingly unstable depending on waves and currents. While I felt a good burn in my legs, I really felt my core muscles firing especially as I focused on keeping my navel drawn-in and glutes engaged in order to stay standing. The paddling also got my arms, back and shoulders pumping, but I was careful not to pump as hard or as often with my left side as I continue to nurse my left shoulder back to health.

IMG_0138What I also like about SUP is that it can truly be tailored to various fitness levels. Newbies can start on their knees before moving to a stand-up position. More seasoned enthusiasts may want to take their skills to rougher waters where bigger waves and stronger currents can present more of a challenge. Either way, you’re getting a low-impact workout which makes it kinder to the joints than running or high-impact group exercise classes. If you have access to the sport and like being on the water, your search for a new cross-training activity could be over.

What about calories, you ask? Just like any other activity, you’ll burn more calories as your intensity increases. For a “casual” hour, you can burn between 250 and 350 calories. If you’re paddling hard, that number goes up. I’ve read some SUP articles that include racers burning more than 1,000 calories in an hour.

While I won’t be adding a board and paddle to my New York City apartment decor anytime soon, I will be keeping my eyes open for SUP opportunities on future getaways. Whether it’s SUP or another activity, let this Motivation Monday post serve as a reminder that adding something new to your routine is still one of the best ways to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Beyond the Crunch

It’s hard to find a fitness magazine or video series that doesn’t highlight moves or tricks for building a stronger core. That’s good, because core training should be a key component of anyone’s exercise program, regardless of his or her fitness level.

The core – made up of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, thoracic spine and cervical spine – is the region of the body where all movement begins. If you have a weak and unstable core, your body simply can’t move the way it’s supposed to. That’s one of the easiest ways to put yourself at increased risk for injury.

New core exercises seem to pop up all the time, but I’ve always been a big fan of some the classics. That being said, there are several core exercises beyond the crunch that I use in my client’s fitness programs along with my own.  Here’s the kicker: these exercises all fit into the stabilization endurance level of training. This is the level where all fitness newbies should start and all fitness veterans should re-visit to maintain core and joint stability. For this trio, my friend and photographer Lauren Bachner captured a snapshot of the start and finish position for each exercise. Aim for two sets of 12-20 reps:

  1. Ball bridge:Once you’ve mastered the two-leg and one-leg floor bridge, this is a great progression of a key core exercise. Training tips: make sure your feet are hip-width apart. Draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes to get your knees in line with your hips and shoulders. Once you’re established the bridge, hold the position for two seconds before lowering your pelvis.

    Hype Gym, New York, NY

    Photos by Lauren Bachner

  2. Prone Iso-Abs (Plank): This remains my all-time favorite core exercise.  Here, I show you the “basic” plank along with a progression, where you add a leg lift. Training tips: In either version, be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes before you raise your body off the floor to form a straight line from head to toe.  Hold plank position for two to three seconds before dropping to the ground to re-start. 
  3. Side Iso-Ab (Side Plank): I admit, I need to perform this version of the plank more often – and you should too! Training tips: Your elbow should be directly below your shoulder and be sure to draw in your navel and contract glutes before lifting your hips and legs off the ground. Hold the plank for two to three seconds before lowering back to start position. 

I wrap up this Workout Wednesday post with another thank you to Lauren for taking these action shots and to the owners of Hype Gym for letting us use their awesome facility for the perfect backdrop. Stay tuned for more shots of my favorite exercises in the future. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what’s on your list of favorites when it comes to exercises that help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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