Home Equipment I Love

I love a good home workout especially if you have all the right equipment. No one is on machines so no waiting, no traffic getting to and from and you can workout any time. If you are thinking of what equipment to add to your home gym, these are proven winners. I use them with clients as a trainer and they are fantastic at what they do.

I put them in order of favorites but all are must haves in my book.

trxTRX ($150-250) – This piece of equipment was designed by and for Navy Seals. What more do I need to say. You can do an entire upper and lower body workout and get serious results. Good for beginners and absolutely perfect for advanced exercisers.

 

yo mat

Yoga Mat ($20-150) – Perfect for stretches, ab work and of course yoga.

 

rope

Jump Rope aka Speed Rope ($20-40)- Jumping rope is a great exercise. Try it for 2 minutes and I guarantee you will have your heart rate up and start yelling Uncle! Great for interval work especially since it’s a great conditioning tool.

 

x ball

 

Exercise Ball/Stability Ball ($10-25) – This is great for hamstring work, core work, and balance plus you can use it as a bench. Roll out as you do dumbbell chest flies, overheads etc.

 

db

Dumbbells ($20-500) – I am not a fan of having a full range but key sizes. The sizes you need plus a set up and down. You can grow it as you wish, but do not need entire set to get started.

 

spri

Resistance Bands ($5-100) – These are best if they have a handle on the ends. They take up much less room than dumbbells and provide great resistance. A variety of resistances are needed. 2-4 bands to start.

 

I am a fan of outdoor cardio, running, biking, etc. So if you have to do your cardio inside due to weather, location etc. A very good treadmill or studio cycling bike would also be contenders. A Bluetooth speaker for motivation/to drown out heavy breathing and a fan for those who need air moving are also helpful additions to a home gym.

You can start with 1 or 2. You may have a great gym membership and need supplemental equipment on days that the gym just won’t work. But a home gym is a great way to ensure you move every day. If you have questions or need advice, just drop me a note in the comments section.

 

Back to Basics

I’m a big fan of yoga. Tried yoga back in the late 90’s after a spinal injury and at the advice of my Iron Man running Chiropractic doctor. At first I didn’t like it, but after about a month I fell deeply in love with yoga. I love how it makes me feel once I complete a class. And I fully believe it to be a necessary compliment to my heavy weight lifting and running. It’s the Yin to the Yang in my workout. I am also currently in the middle of yoga teacher training with the hopes of personally spreading my love of yoga to anyone who will listen.

This past weekend my husband and I participated in a Yoga Basics workshop. After almost a dozen years of yoga it seemed like a good idea to check in on the basics. And man was I right! It’s like driving, you are taught 10 & 2 on the steering wheel, but after years of driving, its one hand and a knee. You get either lazy or sloppy or just forgetful, but either way, you forget the basics.

We enjoyed a 3-hour workshop going over the intricate details of the basic poses found in Sun A and Sun B. We re-learned where our elbows should be on chaturanga (high to low plank). We re-learned the form and benefits of utkatasana (chair pose). We learned modifications for our much older shoulders and how to truly open our torso in twists. It was amazingly beneficial and I feel even more excited for my yoga practice. Because it’s not just going through the motions, it’s what you achieve while you are there.

There are so many hidden benefits of yoga and taking this basics workshops reminded me of that. If you are new to the idea of yoga or have been practicing for many years. You need to treat yourself to a yoga basics workshop. The benefits are immeasurable.

Chaturanga

To Lunge or Not to Lunge

One of my favorite moves for toning and strengthening the lower body is the lunge. I love the lunge. I like walking lunges, curtsy lunges, reverse lunges, lateral lunges…and the list goes on. It is excellent for leaning out the upper thigh, toning the glutes and even brings in balance and core. The only problem with the lunge is that some of us may have knee problems, thus making the lunge a troublesome move. And for those of us with knee discomfort we need to strengthen the legs using other moves. Today I give you a list of lower body moves that I suggest in place of the lunge.

imagesSquat – this is my second favorite lower body move. Great for building the quadriceps, gluteals and core. I personally prefer weighted squats but if you have knee discomfort, you need to start with body weight only. Focus on form vs depth at the start. Standing tall with feet hip joint width apart and sit the heels back as if you are sitting into a chair. Your weight will move primarily to the heels, if you are feeling weight in the toes you are not sitting back and putting unnecessary pressure on your knees. Go down as far as you can comfortably, being mindful of knee comfort. Then press through your heels and return to standing. 12-15 reps. untitled

Wall sit – If motion is a problem, then take it to a sturdy wall and stand with your back to the wall. Walk your feet out while keeping entire back on the wall (from hips up to shoulders). Your goal is to walk out to a 90 degree angle on the knee. Most people need to work their way to this level. You can keep feet/knees hip joint width apart or wider to find that happy place for your knee. Hold for 20 seconds, building up to being able to hold for a full minute.

untitled (2)Step up – Start with the bottom stair or small bench. Facing the bench/stair, step up with one leg followed by the second and step back down followed by the other leg. Pick a lead leg, so that whichever leg goes up first also down first. Do this move 10-20 times on one side and then switch lead legs so each leg has its turn leading the move. As you feel stronger and knee is not a problem, try higher step heights.untitled (3)

Bridge – lie on the floor, bring your feet in toward the hips, feet flat on the floor with knees pointing to ceiling and hip width apart. Push down through your heels as you lift your hips up and lower in a smooth, slow and rhythmic motion. To add difficulty, feel free to lift one leg to the sky and pushing through one heel. This adds more weight to the pushing leg. 12-15 each leg or total.

untitled (4)Standing leg extension – Start by standing near a solid support (wall, counter, railing). Stand on one leg and lift the knee so the upper leg is parallel to the floor. Holding that position, slowly extend the leg so it is straight and return to folded leg. Be mindful that you are not lowering the upper leg. Now, not everyone is flexible enough to extend the leg fully while elevated. This you will work up to. If you are able to do the extension fully, try adding balance by moving further away from solid support (close enough to grab if you wobble but far enough you are forced to balance while extending and lowering leg. Do 10-15 each leg.

Knee health is so important, unless directed otherwise by a doctor, you need to incorporated strengthening moves in your weekly fitness routine. Avoiding moves that aggravate the area while determining the moves that strengthen it.  Great addition to your current strength program especially is you are avoiding legs due to weak knees.

 

‘Tis the Season for Fitness

saleEveryone seems to find time for fitness in January thanks to New Year’s Resolutions. But the best fitness deals are always found in December. It’s when facilities are seeing their lowest attendance and they want to boost sales. So for those of us who work out year round, tis the season! Some fitness businesses promote there December deals in ads while others just post internally for their loyal customers and lucky searchers like us. This is when I start hitting their websites for holiday deals because you save the most money possible when you purchase before the holidays. Best places are private venues such as yoga studios, cycle studios, barre, aerial silks, dance, martial arts, etc. Read the fine print, often these deals have to be started in December, some are December only and some offer huge discounts if you make yearlong commitments. Another great thing about these deals are you try programs out with a more manageable crowd in attendance vs the heavy crowds of January. I wouldn’t suggest signing up for a year of aerial silks if you have never tried it before, but if you take spin regularly and only go sporadically because of cost, there will be a deal for you. So start your search because the December deals are great!

Some People Need a Partner

I love to work out but every now and then I am not in the mood. It gets boring to just show up each day and go through a routine at the gym. Especially if you are not training for an event or a particularly exciting goal. When weight loss is the main goal then it’s really not that exciting and becomes more of a chore. Since weight loss is better achieved through proper diet decisions vs just exercise, that can be a long road. And probably another reason why people lose interest after 90 days (which is the average length of time people spend involved in a fitness routine).workout buddy1

I have a number of ideas for staying committed and one of them is finding a partner. An exercise partner who you have regular standing dates to meet and workout with is amazingly beneficial to your staying committed long term. So on that random day you would rather stay in bed or go straight home after work you don’t and instead meet your partner. Since consistency is the key to your long term health and fitness needs, having a partner makes that so much easier.

Choosing a partner is not always that easy. You need similar goals or fitness interests, access to facilities or classes, schedules that blend and allow you to meet at the same time. Once you find that partner you need to commit to motivating one another and not letting the other off the hook for missing workouts. Having a partner that is waiting on you is very motivating when you are having that rare off day. I love the social time with my workout partner, celebrating our accomplishments and getting excited to try new classes or activities together. You get more engaged in your workout plan, you come up with goals and look for ways to increase fitness levels when you work with a partner.

My workout partners have been the most random people ever. I used to work out with a Catering Exec who was a member of a gym I ran. We hit it off and together we joined another gym closer to our homes (where no one knew our names which was funnMuscular coach insures athlete exercising with barbelly since we were both named Cindy) and met there super early 3x a week for weight lifting. We had a 10+ year age difference and had the best workouts. Other workout partners included college classmates, neighbors I met in a random class and found we had similar club memberships, running club participants who I bonded with and we branched out, even co-workers. So it’s not necessary that your workout partner be a current friend. If you have that person in your circle that is wonderful news and you are very lucky. I have rarely had my close friends share my fitness habits, schedules or interests.

So the next time you are working out and you notice someone who you have seen before, strike up a conversation. You never know, that person may become your next workout partner.

Why everyone should do a push-up

There are so many reasons why the push-up is a perfect exercise for everyone. Before you say “I can’t do a push up because…(fill in the blank)” hear me out. There are so many benefits to the push-up

Push-ups are free. They require no special equipment or additional equipment. Now sure, if you wish to buy fun equipment that is your option but it’s not necessary to complete a push-up. As a result, you can do them at home, outside, in a hotel room, in a well-equipped gym and in an ill equipped gym.push-up-1

Push-ups provide functional strength. This is a move you need in life. You push things all day and hopefully wish to be able to push things for many years to come. Push-ups will ensure that.

Push-ups provide shoulder strength and stability. As we age, our shoulder joint weakens. This is the number one reason why I hear people say they can’t so a push up. This is also where modifications are needed. Now if you have a serious injury that require you to avoid this motion, you are the exception, not the rule. But the rest of us, which is most of us, we need this shoulder strength and stability to ensure a long happy shoulder life.

Push-ups strengthen your pectorals (chest muscles) and triceps (back of upper arm). Men are more willing to keep push-ups in their routine but women are quick to leave them out. I want to encourage women specifically to make them a normal and regular part of your routine. Upper body strength is essential for any active adult and women you will not bulk up doing a couple dozen push-ups. I personally would be thrilled if that were the case, but as a woman, bulk is very difficult to get. Sexy arms are a more realistic result. You strengthen both your chest (think natural lift) and your triceps (think firm back of arm). From what I hear women complain about, those two are at the top.

Push-ups work your core. Core is often the true reason someone cannot do a proper push-up. Core strength is the biggest part of push up strength. This is where modifications are needed. If you cannot do a traditional floor push up, I suggest starting at the wall, moving to a counter as you get better and then down to a shorter but sturdy level (stair, bench, retaining wall, etc). My personal preference is to stay in full body position instead of going to knee push up. I like combinations of full body push-ups and knee push-ups for variety but the full body position in an elevated position is my favorite way to perform a push up and the truest way to build on functional strength, pectoral strength and core strength. Especially since you need the core element to be engaged modified push upso that you can get lower and lower until the full body floor push up can be achieved.

So with all the benefits of a push-up I want to encourage everyone to put them in their routine. Some of you will need modifications as you build your strength to handle a full body push up. Modifications are a natural part of strength training progression. Don’t judge, just know where you need to start and start. If you have shoulder problems your start point will be different than if you have a back issue. If you are unsure of what to do, contact a certified personal trainer or other qualified fitness professional for assistance. You may also contact me and I will do my best to guide you to a proper push-up for you.