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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!

Bring on Summer!

IMG_3208

SO ready for summer!

After an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in New York City, this Motivation Monday has me completely pumped for the official arrival of summer 2014!  At this time of year, I’d rather be out doing something active than reading about it. So, today I offer three simple tips to help make the most out of this month and the summer ahead.

1) Stay hydrated:  As the mercury rises, we tend to be more aware of getting the right amount of fluids throughout the day. Be sure to drink 16 ounces of water one hour before your workout and keep sipping throughout. I’m also a big fan of the latest addition to my fitness survival tool “kit.” If you haven’t tried Sportsfood electrolyte strips yet, there’s no time like now give them a test run. Click here for a reminder on why I use the zero-calorie, zero-guilt take-anywhere strips. One final note on hydration: Unless you’re an athlete running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or longer, skip the extra calories in those sugary energy drinks and stick with water.

2) Love The Skin You’re In: ‘Tis the season for short shorts, tank tops, bikinis and all-things skin revealing. Which makes it all too easy to start the self-sabotaging act of comparing ourselves to others. So, here’s an important reminder: no two bodies are built the same. Let other fitness fanatics motivate you to move simply because you want to feel the same endorphin rush they’re experiencing. It shouldn’t be about getting the same “six-pack” abs as the woman who just ran by you in the beach or the same pecs as the guy banging out push-ups on the park bench. If you’re doing all you can to exercise and eat healthy, give yourself a high five and bask in all the positives you experience because of your lifestyle.

3)Mix it Up! Since variety is the spice of life, gearing up for a new season is a great time to mix up your exercise routine. Summer is the perfect time to explore your options beyond the four walls of a gym. Maybe this is the year you try paddle boarding, Saturday morning boot camp classes in the park, Tabatas on the beach or join a social volleyball club in your community. Turn the outdoors into your fitness playground and have some fun!

If you have any tips that add to your summertime fitness fun, I’d love to hear about them! Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

More Outdoor Fun for a Workout Wednesday

Still Standing Another Heart-Pounding CrossFit UWS Workout!

Still Standing Another Heart-Pounding CrossFit UWS Workout!

Surprise! I’m back just in time for a Workout Wednesday! It turns out I never shared one of my latest and greatest outdoor workouts with you, and figured this was the perfect day of the week to put it out there. What made this Central Park workout extra fun was it included a team element. Here’s how CrossFit UWS head coach Roberto Murichi got a half-dozen “warriors” to break a sweat:

Active Stretch: 60-second hamstring stretch; 30 jumping jacks; 6o-second squat stretch; 30 front kicks

Warm Up: After 20 seconds of jumping rope (single-unders), we then had 90 seconds to complete two exercises:

  1. 20 park bench plyo push-ups
  2. 10 squats

Each of us finished the push-ups and squats before the 90 seconds were up. That gave us just enough time to grab some water before picking up our jump ropes and moving on to round two. (Three rounds total.)

Team Workout:

Roberto split us up into three teams of two. When the timer started counting down from 15 minutes, team member number one started a 200 meter run. Susan was my partner, and while she ran I had to bang out as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following exercises:

  1. Five burpee bench jumps: We used the park benches as our support point, just like we did for the warm up. When we brought our legs in following the push-up part of the burpee, we either did a box jump or a modified version stepping on and off the bench one leg at a time.
  2. 10 reverse lunges (double count)

Once Susan finished her 200 meter run, I started mine and she would pick up wherever I left off in the AMRAP. When I finished the 200 meters, Susan would start up again and I was back at the bench. The same sequence continued throughout the 15-minute workout. When time was up, Susan and I had plenty of sweat to prove we made it through 12 rounds of burpee bench jumps and reverse lunges. Add that to multiple rounds of the 200 meter run and I think it’s easy to see why we were riding a major endorphin high when the buzzer finally signaled the end of the workout.

We tied another team for 12 rounds, while the third team beat us out by one. At the end of it all, there were high-fives all around and lots of heavy breathing. Sometimes a little friendly competition and fresh air is all you need to mix things up and add another level to your ongoing efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Welcome Summer of 2013!

Looking forward to more summer Saturdays in the park with Roberto Murichi

Looking forward to more summer Saturdays in the park with Roberto Murichi

Ever feel like you’ve hit a rut in your fitness routine? Don’t worry – it happens even to the biggest fitness fanatics. The good news is sometimes all you need to get your mojo going again is a change of venue. Now that the summer season officially has officially started, there’s no time like the present to take some of your moves to a park, beach or other outdoor hot-spot near you.

I certainly have some extra kick in my step on this first Motivation Monday of my favorite season thanks to the leftover endorphin rush following a long overdue Central Park workout courtesy of  CrossFit UWS head coach Roberto Murichi.  Here’s how I kicked off a picture-perfect Saturday in New York City:

  • Active Stretch:  20 sec squat stretch; 20 front kicks; 20 seconds running in place (ironically abbreviated R.I.P); 20 back kicks. Three rounds total.
  • Warm up:  I had 10 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following exercises (I managed to get through four):
  1. 100 single-unders (jump rope_
  2. 10 plyo bench push-ups
  3. 10 overhead squats

Roberto was kind enough to catch one of my rounds in action. (Before you take a peek, I admit my form wasn’t ideal for the first few push-ups, but for the next round I re-adjusted my hand position on the bench and I was able to bang them out without the arch in my lower back you see here.)

  • Workout: The “Chipper”:  Roberto set his timer to see how quickly I could complete the following circuit: 
  1. 400 meter sprint
  2. 40 bench jumps. I chose to do modified step-ups
  3. 40 kick-outs (I demonstrate both the step-ups and kick-outs in the park bench workout video posted earlier this month. Click here for a refresher.)
  4. 200 meter spring
  5. 20 step-ups
  6. 20 kick-outs

I finished the above in 8:03. Not my fastest, but not my slowest time either. The bottom line is I pushed myself to a serious break-a-sweat, heart-pounding limit and felt ready to take on the world when I was done. I hope this workout re-cap offers a serious shot of motivation to use this week and the entire summer season as a time to get out there and get moving. There’s no time like the present to explore your surroundings and spice up your workout routine as part of your ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My Summertime Survival Tools

As you can probably tell from my last few posts, I’m very excited about the arrival of my favorite season. Since this Motivation Monday falls just five days before the start of the summer, I thought I’d offer a quick hit list of some of my seasonal fitness survival tools:

iStock_000010754376Small1)Re-usable water bottle:  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

2) Moisture-wicking clothing: Sometimes the gear I wear makes all the difference between sweating it out and throwing in the towel.

3) Portable / non-perishable snacks: My new favorite are KIND protein bars, but some old stand-bys include bananas, apples and almonds. If you’re packing a cooler for the beach, watermelon, pineapple and frozen grapes are a few of my picks for refreshing sweet treats.

4) Jump rope: My favorite portable workout tool of all time! Winds up and fits in any backpack and can be used anywhere from the park to the beach.

5) New kicks: You may recall I get a new pair of cross trainers twice a year. Since I tend to ask Santa to leave one pair under the tree for me on Christmas Day, this is the time of year I look for the next pair that I can start wearing down.

photo-96) Sunscreen: I’m the first to admit I did a ton of damage to myself as a sun worshipper in my teens and 20s. After developing Rosacea in my 30s, I’m a lot better of protecting my skin from harm.  The sensitive skin on my face does well with a lightweight fluid called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I also like the sheer touch formulas by Hawaiian Tropic and I’ve heard great things about the Banana Boat sports sunscreen line.

7) Good tunes:  I simply cannot get into my workout without some heart-pounding beats. Here are the five songs currently giving me the biggest boost for cardio, Tabatas and weight training (some are old, some are new):

  • images“Truly Madly Deeply (Thomas Gold Radio Edit)” – Cascada
  • “Crank It Up” – David Guetta & Akon
  • “Can’t Hold Us (featuring Ray Dalton)” – Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis
  • “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” – Fall Out Boy
  • “Stay Hungry” – Twisted Sister

Now bring on the start of summer 2013 and plenty of sun-filled days so we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous right through Labor Day!

Quick Summertime Fitness Tips

Bring on Summer!

Bring on the Summer of 2013!

I don’t know about you, but at this time of year, I’d rather be out doing something active than reading about it. So, here’s a simple Motivation Monday post with my top three tips for how to make the most out of this month and the soon-to-arrive summer season.

1) Stay hydrated:  As the mercury rises, we tend to be more aware of getting the right amount of fluids throughout the day. Be sure to drink 16 ounces of water one hour before your workout and keep sipping throughout. I know lots of people amp up on caffeine before hitting the gym, but just remember to proceed with caution. If I’m dragging at the end of the work day, iced green tea offers just the kick I need to get myself to the gym. However, we all react differently to caffeine, so be sure to gauge how much you can tolerate and avoid the jitters. Want my take on sugary energy drinks? Unless you’re an athlete running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or longer, skip the extra calories and stick with water.

2) Love Your Bod: ‘Tis the season for short shorts, tank tops, bikinis and all-things skin revealing. Which makes it all too easy to start the self-sabotaging act of comparing ourselves to others. So, here’s an important reminder: no two bodies are built the same. Let other fitness fanatics motivate you to move simply because you want to feel the same endorphin rush they’re experiencing. It shouldn’t be about getting the same “six-pack” abs as the gal who just ran by you in nothing more than shorts and a sports bra or the same pecs as the guy doing push-ups on the park bench. If you’re doing all you can to exercise, eat healthy and take care of yourself in general, give yourself a pat on the back and bask in all the positives you experience because of your lifestyle.

3) Have fun! This really is the perfect season to explore your options beyond the four walls of a gym. Maybe this is the year you try paddle boarding, Saturday morning boot camp classes in the park or join a social dodgeball club in your area. Turn the outdoors into your fitness playground and mix things up!

If you have any tips that add to your summertime fitness fun, I’d love to hear about them! Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Exciting Times at LauraLovesFitness!

Use Your Surroundings for a Great Workout!

Use Your Surroundings for a Great Workout!
Photo/Video by Ash Kalmar

As we kick off a new week, I’m excited to tell you about some new “stuff” going on with my blog.

I’ve recently connected with Jon Meterparel, one of New England’s signature on-air personalities in the world of sports. If you live in the Boston area, you probably know him as the play-by-play by voice of Boston College football and basketball and from his many days on the Dennis and Callahan show. Jon has been looking for “experts” to appear on his new website and today, I’m sharing what I hope will be the first of many videos that will be placed on JonMeterparel.com. Be sure to check out Jon’s website for some great sports stories and to also find advice from other experts on topics ranging from golf to gadgets.

Keep an eye on my Facebook posts and tweets to learn when this video will make its official “debut” at JonMeterparel.com. In the meantime, I need to give a major shout-out to Ash Kalmar who shot and edited this video with me on a glorious Saturday here in New York City.

I look forward to hearing your comments and your ideas for future fitness videos. Don’t be shy! Your support and feedback inspire me to continue looking for ways to keep all of us motivated on this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Thanksgiving Eve: The One Day You Shouldn’t Skip the Workout This Week!

Another Awesome CrossFit UWS Workout!

with Ashleigh & John

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I’d say this is the one day you really don’t want to skip the workout this week! If you have an abbreviated work or school day, why not add an extra ten minutes to your cardio session or take that 90-minute group exercise class.

If you can get outside and take advantage of the not-yet frigid temps, you could always try the awesome workout CrossFit UWS Head Coach Roberto Murichi pushed us through this past Saturday. This was the first time I was able to get to the Central Park class in several weeks, and it felt great to be back in action!

  • Static/Active StretchTwo rounds; four areas of focus:
  1. Hamstrings: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of “butt kickers” – similar to running in place, but instead of bringing your knees up toward your chest,  you bend them enough to try and kick your heels to your glutes.
  2. Quads: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of “high knees”- running in place with those knees coming up as high to the chest as possible.
  3. Hip flexor: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks.
  4. Chest: 30-second static stretch (clasp hands behind back and “pull”) followed by 30 seconds of “sun gods.” That’s simply raising your arms to shoulder level, keeping them straight and moving them around in circles.
  • Warm up: 100 meter sprint. 10 rounds. This was done in “relay” style with my two other classmates. With the combined effort, it took us just under 13 minutes to get through the 10 rounds.
  • Workout: Roberto broke things down into one-minute intervals where we’d bang out as many reps as possible of four different exercises. We continued with as many one-minute rounds as needed to get through the total number of designated reps as follows:
  1. 100 sit ups
  2. 75 squats
  3. 50 push ups
  4. 25 burpees
  • The “catches”: At the start of each minute, (which we were alerted to by a beep on Roberto’s iPad), we had to bang out five box-jumps using the park benches as our jump-on/jump-off origin. The other catch was that you had to finish all the reps designated for each exercise before moving on to the next. So, let’s say I got through 50 sit-ups in the first minute. When I heard the one-minute beep, I banged out five box jumps, then went back to sit-ups starting at #51. I couldn’t start the squats until all the sit-ups were done. It took me 12:50 to complete all the reps of all the exercises. (Which means my workout also included a total of 70 box jumps.)

Just a friendly reminder that these workouts aren’t designed for fitness novices. However, if you’re looking to take things up a notch, Roberto’s workouts are a great way to supercharge your routine! Click here for more information on the workouts and when they’re held.

Whatever you do on this Workout Wednesday, be sure to make it count! That way you can head into the Thanksgiving holiday knowing you’ve done all you can do to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Cold Weather Edition

It’s hard to believe we’re gearing up for what could be a Nor’easter here in the New York area just one week after Sandy left our shores. While I pray today’s storm ends up being less severe than predicted,  there’s no escaping the fact that the colder temperatures of November are here to stay.

Now that I’ve broken out the winter coat, gloves and other warm, woolly items, I thought it was a good time for some important reminders on how to safely stick with your outdoor exercise routine as we head into a cold finish for 2011:

  • Dress In Layers: Start with a thin layer of synthetic material (e.g. Under Armour or Nike DriFIT clothing) closest to the skin. Avoid wearing cotton as it takes longer to dry and the wet feel can give you a chill.  Add a layer of fleece or wool and last but not least, finish off your outfit with a waterproof outer-layer.
  • Protect Your Hands, Feet & Ears: My hands and feet are cold even on the hottest days of the year, so they’re especially vulnerable to wind chills and icy temperatures. So, in colder weather, I’ll often wear a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier ones, or even a pair of mittens. I know some people who have a “winter” pair of running or walking shoes that are up to one size bigger so they can wear thicker thermal socks or two pairs of regular ones. Finally, I’m a big fan of the wrap-around ear warmers or fleece headbands to keep the biting wind from wreaking havoc on my ears.
  • Don’t Forget the Sunscreen: If you’ve ever gotten a nasty sunburn from skiing, you know the sun is just as strong in the cold-weather months as it is in the summertime. Remember to put on the SPF 30 before heading outdoors and don’t forget the SPF-infused lip balm, too.
  • Stay Hydrated:  We hear lots of warnings about becoming dehydrated in the heat,  but you can become dehydrated just as easily in the cold. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. (Here’s a refresher on why water is so important.)
  • Special Populations: While most people can exercise safely in the cold weather, if you have a heart condition or suffer from asthma, be sure to check with your physician before starting a cold-weather exercise routine.

The good news is you don’t have to pack away your motivation to exercise with the bathing suit and beach towels. Using a little common sense and having the right gear will allow you to continue your love affair with the great outdoors through November and beyond so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Back to the Basics

I said it on Monday, and I’ll say it again: what a difference a week makes!

I’m excited to tackle this Workout Wednesday with new energy. For me, getting back into my fitness routine has meant focusing on one of my lifelong addictions: cardio.

While I haven’t completely decided how today’s workout will break down, I do know there will be a combo of elliptical, recumbent bike and rowing machine training when I hit the gym after work. After my five-day hiatus, I started with a moderate 30 minutes and should have no problem hitting a full 60 minutes today. Adding a plank and push-up Tabata along with some SMR and stretching and no doubt I’ll sweat any work-related stress right out of my system. All of this will no doubt help me get back up to speed and ready to tackle another crazy Central Park workout.

So, today’s post is a reminder about the importance of cardiovascular exercise. In the simplest of terms, it’s crucial when it comes to reaching your goals of losing weight, reducing body fat or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of cardio activity include its ability to decrease:

  • Daily fatigue
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hypertension
  • Non-insulin dependent diabetes and
  • Obesity

At the same time, cardio helps boost your:

  • Sense of well-being
  • Immune system
  • Blood lipid profile and
  • Overall physical performance at work and at play

While there are several levels to cardio training, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on some guidelines for beginners and anyone who may be getting back into a fitness routine after a hiatus.  (As usual, I base these guidelines using the what I studied through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.) Your cardio activity should focus on maintaining a zone one heart rate which is approximately 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. Here’s what that means for you:

  1. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220.
  2. Multiply your max heart rate by .65.
  3. Multiply your max heart rate by .75.

To use myself as an example:

  1. 220-37 = 183
  2. 183 X 0.65 = 119
  3. 183 X 0.75 = 137
  4. Laura’s Zone One Heart Rate = 119 – 137

If you’re working within the parameters of zone one for cardio, it’s likely you are also in stage one of your overall exercise program. (NASM refers to this as the stabilization level.) If you’ve never worked out before, you may want to try to reach your zone one heart rate for a maximum five to ten minutes and then spend another 20 minutes simply walking at a good pace, climbing the stairs in your home or getting really dirty in the yard by cleaning up the garden.  Your goal should be to eventually maintain your zone one heart rate for at least 30 minutes.  This can take some time.  A “newbie” may need two months or longer to meet this demand, but remember: there’s no finish line here. You’ve made a commitment to exercise and start taking better care of yourself, so while you don’t want to just dial it in, make the journey work for you.

I hope this brief session of cardio 101 will help get your heart pumping safely and effectively so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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