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Welcome Spring!

Another Springtime bonus? Baseball season is almost here!  Photo by Leslie Hassler

Another Springtime bonus? Baseball season is almost here!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

It’s the first Motivation Monday of the Spring of 2014! Obviously, Mother Nature has yet to catch up with the calendar. (We’re bracing for more snow here in New York tomorrow.) So for now I’ll enjoy the little rush I get from just wishing people a happy Spring! As we all try to catch the buzz of a new season, it’s also the perfect time to think about shaking up your fitness routine.

There are three reasons why change is good when it comes to how you exercise:

  1.  Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
  2. Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I mix up my cardio days and take different Physique57 signature and mat classes throughout the week. I also take at least one day off each week.
  3. Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and weight training circuits can keep things fresh. 

The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety to your routine:

1) Start jumping rope: Along with making you feel like a kid again, jumping rope can burn up to 20 calories per minute! Also, since you only need one portable piece of equipment, you can do it just about anywhere. (Just watch your ceiling height!) Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next level. Try this: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes and then jump rope for 1 minute. Keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.

2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest. (Feel free to use stairs in your house or outside your building as the step!)

3) Take it outside: Sometimes a change of venue is all you need to put that extra spring in your step! Take Tabata training to the park, the backyard or the deck. Take advantage of the extra daylight and meet a friend or catch up with that special someone over a walk before or after dinner.

4) Get some new gear: I recently strayed from basic black to purchase a few new pairs of workout pants and tank tops. (I’m now a first-time owner of purple yoga pants!) Whether it’s a new pair of cross trainers or a moisture-wicking sports bra or pair of shorts, sometimes a pop of color can go a long way in lifting your mood and getting you pumped to workout. Who doesn’t like to show off new clothes or kicks?

5) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, here are some of my latest favorites:

  • “Made Of (Chuckie Mix)”  by Nause
  • “September (Neil McLellan Remix)” by St. Lucia
  • “Fire In Your New Shoes” by Kaskade (feat. Dragonette)
  • “What’s Up Suckaz” by TJF
  • “#Selfie” by The Chain smokers

So, how are you planning to take things up a notch this spring? Let me know so we can all share some ideas on our neverending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous! 

” Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ “

-Robin Williams

A Not-So-Typical Workout Wednesday

In honor of this week’s Workout Wednesday, I’ll be….resting.

Why? Because despite all my efforts to take extra care of myself these past couple of weeks filled with travel, extra long  hours at the office and virtually zero days off, my body had enough and I came down with a cold. Now that I think about it, all the Yankees late-night playoff games probably served as the final straw in breaking down my immune system.

While my symptoms are mainly above the neck and I did get some cardio in after work on Monday, I could feel my body struggling even on the lower settings on the elliptical. When I finally got home, I was more tired than ever. So, it’s time for me to take a bit of my own advice and take it easy for a day or two. I’d rather be out of the game for a couple of days than risk running myself down even more and ending up with some sort of upper respiratory infection and then being sidelined for even longer.

Whether or not you’re feeling under the weather, rest is a crucial component to anyone’s health and fitness routine. If you don’t allow your body to rest and recover, you’re simply putting yourself at risk for overtraining. The following is a list of some of the symptoms of overtraining:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
  • Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Slower recovery of heart rate
  • Decrease in strength performance
  • Constant muscle pain or soreness when moving, bordering on pain

Avoiding these symptoms doesn’t have to be difficult. Just give yourself a break now and then! A rest day allows for muscular repair and recovery of the central nervous system. For those who can’t imagine even one day without activity, you can still take a leisurely walk or bike ride, or maybe you can substitute that strength or cardio class with an extra-long stretch session.

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a rest day curled up on the couch in your kick-around clothes reading a good book or catching up with your DVR, go for it! Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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