Category Archives: squats
So remember when I said I was going to try to shake up my workout routine? Well I switched it up this week!
Monday and today, I went to a boot camp at Chicago Fitness Coach, and it kicked my butt! Monday I thought I was going to die, but today was a tiny bit easier. The instructor and founder, Tony, is super motivating and really pushes you — but does it all with a laugh and a smile on his face! On the agenda today? Treadmill sprints mixed with pushups, tons of squats, lunges, mountain climbers, Spiderman pushups, sumo squats, and LOTS of core work. I was sweating like crazy (and wiping pink toner onto the towel since I had my hair dyed RED!). It’s all very basic stuff, but honestly, it didn’t matter. We were moving nonstop and everyone was dying by the end! Plus, I’m getting my workouts in early since the class is held at 9am! (Ah, the perks of not having a regular 9to5.)
And remember how I said it was pretty easy to sweat on the cheap? I got this month-long, 5x/week boot camp on Tippr for $20! Getting my butt handed to me weekly is even sweeter knowing I’m only paying $1 per class! Can’t beat that!
What have you done to switch up your workouts lately? Ever tried a boot camp or another super tough class like it? Scored any awesome deals on fitness stuff lately? Spill!
It’s Wednesday, and I’m feeling a bit uninspired. I wasn’t going to post at all, but then I remembered how smart, interesting, and opinionated my readers are (I mean that affectionately!), so I figured you all might have something to say! Since I’m about to head to the gym, I figured I’d ask you guys what your favorite muscle groups to strength train are. And what better way to do this than to conduct a poll about it? I personally like legs because it reminds me how strong I am, but I also like triceps for no good reason other than they make my arms look good! But maybe you’re an abs girl, or you looove working those glutes. Either way, vote and let me know why your favorite is your favorite in the comments section! C’mon guys, spill!
So after Wednesday’s post on getting past your excuses for not working out, my friend Kira asked yet another great question: ”Okay here’s another excuse … money. Say you get bored to death running (or get too many weird pains), but you can’t afford a gym membership or sports equipment. I personally would love to go to a climbing gym regularly but I can’t afford it. I would also love to hire a personal trainer, but clearly, same issue. Any thoughts on this one?”
For some reason, even though I’m a semi-broke twenty something myself, this excuse didn’t even occur to me. Maybe it’s because I work at gyms or the fact that I got an amazing deal on my own gym membership (I now pay $9 per month for the rest of my life!) or the fact that I just can’t imagine a life without exercise. Whatever the reason, I’m always fretting about money, so it’s crazy that I didn’t think of this one! But once it was brought to my attention, I couldn’t stop thinking of new ways to sweat for very little money! Here’s a somewhat abbreviated list for those of you who, like me, don’t have dollar bills falling out of your pockets:
1) Use what you have. Now let’s start with the basics. While Kira mentioned that she didn’t love running, some of you might. I’m guessing you already have a pair of shoes, and that’s all you need (besides yourself), so give it a try! Add in intervals by sprinting on the choruses of your workouts songs if you’re listening to music, or, if you’re not, decide on a certain number of blocks you’ll go all out for. And there’s no shame in doing a walk-run combo if that’s what gets you moving. If you’re still not a fan of pounding the pavement, try biking! I’m guessing that about half of you have an old mountain bike from Target in the garage or stuck in storage somewhere. And if you don’t have it, I bet your parents still do, so if you live close enough for you or them to drive, throw it in the trunk on the next visit and you’ll be good to go (at least until it starts snowing here in the Midwest)!
As far as strength training goes, use your own body weight! Pushups, squats, and situps are awesome moves that require nothing but your own fabulous self. Once you master these, add weight with household items (as silly as it sounds, fill up old milk jugs with sand, even!) or try standing on one leg to make them harder. If you really can’t afford a gym membership, you already have everything you need to cover all of the basics. Trust me.
2) Buy used. If you don’t have a bike or other exercise gear, and buying new is out of the question, try craigslist. Honestly, you can find anything on there, and some people are selling some pretty nice exercise equipment in the Beauty + Health section. A client of mine bought a never-been-used wetsuit for a Tri, and I’ve even seen someone selling their gym membership for cheaper, so be on the lookout for those bikes as well as things you wouldn’t expect! If you have a Play It Again Sports or other used sporting goods store in your area, check it out as well! Sure, some things might gross you out to buy used, but a soccer ball or basketball or set of dumbbells is still the same, even if it did have a previous owner.
3) Learn to share. The things we learned in kindergarten are still valuable today. Sharing or splitting the cost of things is a HUGE money saver. Really want to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions? Find a friend or two who does too, and halve your cost! Honestly, most personal trainers (especially newer ones at big gyms who need clients desperately!), are willing to work two people out for the cost of one (sometimes a little more, but your cost is still lower than hiring one on your own), because it’s not much extra work and they’re still making the same amount of money for an hour of work. Recruit a third friend and your individual cost will go down by a lot even if the overall price goes up a tiny bit. (Note: with this situation, don’t expect the same individual attention you might get if it were just one or two of you, though. When training three or four, it gets hard to focus entirely on every single person in the group.) There are even tons of places that offer cheaper group training (like Motiv in the Chicago area) or pre-set workout plans available to their members (check out TEAMiFIT, also in Chicago).
However, if a gym membership and split personal training sessions are still a stretch, check out some do-it-yourself programs that you can split with friends. You buy the P90X or other workout program between four friends and have up to 3 months of workouts for next to nothing! Do it at a different pal’s house every week to be fair, and make copies of any written instructions. You’ll all reap the benefits! You could also host a workout video swap, and have your friends bring all of their used CoreFusion, step aerobics, and yoga DVDS that they aren’t using anymore. Everyone will be able to find something that they haven’t tried before, and no one loses any money! You can always get your DVD back after letting the other person try it.
4) Look for deals! Call your local gyms and see if they’re running any specials and if they offer any additional discounts for students or family members or people in a certain profession. If you really want to try a gym, this is key! I know that when I worked at Bally, they were always offering month-to-month memberships for 20 to 30 bucks! They might not be the fanciest gyms, but they have all of the basics and even some classes! Basic gym is better than no gym, my friends. Call up gyms in your area to see if they do anything similar.
Additionally, I have found a ton of really cool stuff online by signing up for email updates from Groupon, Tippr, and Living Social Deals. They’ve got them for all of the major cities and surrounding areas, so I bet you’ll be able to find something! I recently bought a month of hardcore bootcamp classes for only $20 from Tippr, and I’m eyeing today’s deal on Groupon for two months of unlimited Bikram for only $39. And for just new and cheap ideas, check out Vital Juice. I get an email update for all sorts of fun activities, and they even do an email blast on free healthy things to do in your city! Seriously, this one is just about being resourceful!
5) Take advantage. Are you sure there aren’t services available to you, for free, that you just haven’t been paying attention to? Does your office hold a before-work bootcamp or fitness class to all employees? If not, would they do something similar to lower their insurance premiums? (Ask them! And if you’re in the Chicago area, tell them you know of someone who can lead the class!) Is there a running group that meets nearby a few times per week? Most groups have a website or ad on craigslist, so get to Googling! You could even start your own by tweeting or Facebooking that you want to start a group for swimming or climbing or cross-training… whatever! I bet you’ll get a ton of feedback from people just like you!
Do you have a library card? Head over to the nearest library and check out a workout video or fitness book (FYI, books usually have longer check-out periods so make sure you turn those DVDs in on time to avoid fees!) Does your local high school have a rec center or pool that’s open to the public for a small fee per visit? Try it! It’s like a gym, but on a pay-very-little-per-visit basis. Does a local workout facility or yoga studio host free weekly classes that you can join in on? I know that even my local Lululemon store has free Sunday classes right in the store! Even if these free classes are being used to plug a business’ services or clothes, so what? It doesn’t mean you have to buy anything! Go and take advantage!
I’m sure there are a million other ways to sweat on the cheap (or for free!), but this is what I’ve got for now! Have you tried any of these tips? Would you be willing to? Got any other inspired tips for me? Like, I said, sharing is an awesome way to get fit for free –and that includes sharing information, so if you have any more ideas, spill!
No excuses. When it comes to exercise, that’s what I’m supposed to tell you, right?
Well, I would, but I know that we’re human and we’ve all got excuses when it comes to fitting in our workouts. However, the trick to getting past those excuses is to hear them and then beat them by using a little bit of strategy and planning. Here are a few of the most commonly heard excuses for not exercising (some of which I may have used myself) and how to get around them.
1) Not enough time. You work 10-hour days, you volunteer, you have a packed social life with a boyfriend, a great family, and tons of friends demanding your attention. Oh, and we can’t forget your standing appointment with your DVR that’s recorded all of your favorite shows. Sounds like you have a pretty full, pretty great life. But you know what’s missing? EXERCISE. You manage to fit all of these other things in, but you aren’t able to squeeze in a few sweat sessions? Grab your calendar and pencil in at least 30 to 45-minute workouts per week. Honestly, to improve your health, that’s all it takes. A little more if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, but if you’re already where you want to be, for less time that it takes to primp for work or happy hour, you can get your heart pumping. And please, please, PLEASE don’t let TV be your excuse. First of all, go ahead and say that one out loud. It just sounds silly. And second, if you must watch that show, why don’t you tune in while working out? Do an at-home strength program while watching or ask the gym if they’ll turn on your show when it’s on. You can’t be the only one obsessed with “Glee.”
2) Not enough sleep. Uhh, why not? I understand that the above crazy busy life may limit your time spent snoozing, but getting enough sleep is so important! I didn’t realize how much better I felt with more sleep until I switched jobs and stopped working 13-hour days (which is ridic, btw). I started getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep almost every night, and my mood and my health both improved! It takes a whole lot more to get me stressed or upset now, and I even lost a few pounds just because my body was rested enough to repair itself and do its thing. Rachel had been telling me I needed to sleep more for the longest time, but it wasn’t until I experienced it myself that I became a true believer! But let’s just say that you’re still struggling in the sleep department, moderate exercise will actually do nothing but wake you up! That’s the great thing about it. And if you you’re missing out on Zzz’s because you just can’t fall asleep then exercise will help with that too! Regular activity = regular sleep schedule. Just make sure you get your sweat on at least 3 hours before bed so you can sleep soundly. Either way, get moving!
3) Not feeling like you can do enough in the time that you have. You think that that 20 minutes you have every weekday won’t do a thing, right? Not so! Bump up the intensity on most days, and you can really elevate your heart rate. Try intervals in your cardio, and limit or eliminate your rest between strength sets altogether. My favorite is treadmill intervals of 90 seconds at a steady pace with 30 second all-out sprints. For my resistance training, I like to do supersets between my back and chest or quads and hamstrings (biggest muscle groups burn the most calories!). You can still do a LOT in a little time. Trust me.
4) Not exactly loving the whole ’working out’ thing. You’ve tried running because it’s supposed to burn the most calories, but you ended up getting bored or a case of shin splints. You’ve tried swimming because it’s supposed to be a great full-body workout, but you ended up doing two laps and coming up gasping for air, making you feel like an athletic failure. You tried a cardio kick class, but the instructor was just a little too peppy for your liking, you couldn’t follow the moves fast enough, and the guy behind you really could have used some deodorant. Whatever you tried, you hated it, and you stopped working out altogether. But why? Why did you only try that one thing and give up on exercise entirely? There are so many options out there! Try a yoga-cardio fusion class if you need something a little more zen. Get a mountain bike or a pair of hiking boots and find a trail if being in the gym is just not your idea of a good time (you can even do a little resistance training outside! Squats and pushups, anyone?). Hire a personal trainer that fits your workout style and personality if you like being in the gym and need a push, but don’t like sharing with other people. Whatever gets you moving, do it! And don’t limit yourself to what you see your friends or family doing. Find what’s right for you and start sweating!
Alright, so those are the most common excuses I’ve come across, but what others have you heard (or used yourself!)? How do you combat those excuses or the ones I’ve mentioned? Spill!
So this post was inspired by a combination of things. 1) I’m being a total copycat here, but I really liked Eat, Live, Run’s “Confessions of a Food Blogger.” I’m totally not a food blogger, but I am a personal trainer, and I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about what we do/think/say/eat. 2) I’ve been taking it kind of easy lately and went back into the gym this morning for a less-than-intense workout after a week of avoiding it even though I live across the street.
Anyway, without any further ado, here are my confessions. Forgive me, gym rats, for sometimes I sin:
I love working out, but I go through phases where I would much rather read in my bed than hop on the treadmill or do a set of squats.
This summer has been HOT and humid in Chicago, even in the supposedly air-conditioned gym. So, for the past week and a half, I have been calling my bike rides to and from work cardio. And I don’t really feel guilty about it.
I think there is a point of pushing yourself too hard and being too obsessed. Contrary to what many trainers I know have said, puking at the end of your workout isn’t healthy and ignoring injuries to get in 3 workouts per day is more insane than it is tough. Call me weak if you want, but I’ve never gotten more from a workout because I saw my lunch afterwards.
Sometimes I use being a PT as an excuse to wear leggings, sports bras, and t-shirts as my daily uniform — even if I’m not training that day. And on the extra lazy days, I chalk up not wearing makeup and donning a wide stretchy headband with a pony tail to working in a place where people are sweating anyways.
If I demonstrate ab exercises enough during the hours I’m on the job, I might call it core work.
Lately, I’ve been paying attention, but not really freaking out over what I’m eating, and people are telling me I look smaller. I’m chalking that one up to chilling the eff out for once.
Sometimes sleep takes precedence over my workout. In the last two weeks since leaving my old job and starting to work at these smaller studios, I’ve slept a LOT. To be fair though, working 13-hour days didn’t really do me any favors in the rest department. But now I’m catching up, and feeling sooo much better since rest is pretty essential to recovery. And to me not being cranky.
I know that body fat percentage is the best indicator of health, and that how your clothes fit is more important than weight, but sometimes when I’m working hard, I (sadly) get the most motivation out of seeing a little drop in the numbers on the scale.
Even though core strength is totally important, I HATE working my lower back. Abs follow pretty closely.
I am not a rippling mass of lean muscle, and although I’ve been that way before – and liked it and would actually love to get back there — for the time being, I’m actually kind of liking having a booty.
So there you go. I’m sure I have more, but I think that’s plenty for now. I need to save some transgressions for the next time I come to confess, right? Any other PTs out there? Do you have similar confessions? Anyone else feel that sometimes they’re totally human and aren’t the epitome of everything their profession says they should be?