Lately I’ve been trying to bring my workouts outside as much as possible, because we FINALLY are having some decent weather in Chicago. I’m still getting to the gym to lift and swim (a little), but otherwise, it’s been walking, running, and biking around my neighborhood. I’m just so happy breathing fresh air while working out, and my music definitely changes with my mood and reflects that. Here are the feel-good summer tunes on my iPod right now:
This one make me feel so happy and positive. I like to warm up to it because it’s not super fast, but it gets you going. And because ‘Everybody’s Got Their Something’…
This next one I like for a steady run (I JUST started running again and oh so slowly), because it doesn’t ever get crazy, and I can kind of zone out and reminisce about college. Not that I was waking up with strangers in my bed or breaking the law, but I was in a sorority and had my fair share of fun, inebriated nights, and I can remember just what it was like to wait for next Friday night because of the last ridiculous Friday night.
Oh, Gaga. You can always count on her for good workout tunes, no matter what you think of her as a pop personality. This one is oddly uplifting, and always makes me think I’m running toward something or going strong to get to the end of a set. I don’t think that’s what she’s talking about at all, but it inspires me to keep it moving, so I turn it on right at the beginning of a workout to get me excited or right as I feel my energy waning so that I can bump the intensity back up.
I’m on a major Joss Stone kick, because I think she and her music just both SCREAM summer. That hair! That bass! That voice! Summer jams at their finest. This song reminds me of summer crushes, and I would love to just dance around to it, but I guess it would work for a run or bike ride too. Just try not to stop and bust a move out in public. It’s allowed, but you’ll get some funny looks.
Snoop cracks me up. Don’t ask me why. It might have something to do with the fact that my sister is super creeped out by him ever since ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot.’ Either way, I really like his music, and this is no exception. This song also makes me laugh because it’s just kind of ridiculous. But it has a great steady beat for strength training, and it makes me want to get a really good workout in, and then go home and get dressed up to go out on a hot summer night. (It’s amazing how much less of a homebody I become when we get decent weather around here.)
I just love pop music. Especially in the summer. I can’t help it, and I’m not afraid to admit it. My personality is quirky and awkward enough that I really don’t need to be alternative in any other way. Mainstream, top 40 radio music makes me happy, and it makes me want to move. Just like this song.
Another Joss Stone jam, this one is perfect for a cooldown and stretch. I love the positive message, and I can just imagine rolling down the windows and cruising around the city on a sunny day (if I had a car in Chicago, that is).
These are my picks for the summer, but I’d love to hear yours! I’m always looking for new suggestions, so lay ‘em on me! Spill!
I haven’t posted a workout here in a while, but I thought a great way to start the weekend off would be to post one of the tougher workouts I’ve come up with lately. I call it the June ass-kicker workout because it knocks me on mine to teach it, and more than once, I’ve had clients leave class muttering ‘whoa, that kicked my ass’ between gasping breaths. Appropriate, right? Anyway, the best part about this workout is that you don’t need any equipment, and you can do it outside if you want to enjoy the summer weather (is it summer in other parts of the US? Chicago hasn’t gotten the memo). All you need is a timer and yourself, so give it a shot this weekend, and let me know what you think!
The June Ass-Kicker
60-45-30 Cardio Set (Do each exercise for 60s 1x through, then 45s for each, then 30s for each)
Sprint Combos (Find an open field, stretch of grass in the park, or a track (about 100-150 yards); Sprint down to one end, do designated exercise on the way back)
Sprint-Skip (high knees, getting off of the ground)
Sprint-Frog Leaps (squat as low as you can, touching ground, and spring forward, landing with soft knees)
Walking wide squats both directions (face same direction down and back to hit both sides)
Do entire set 2x
60-45-30 Strength Set
Plank w/ single arm row
Plank-ups (aka Plank to Palms)
Let me know if you don’t know what something is or if you need modifications, and get to sweating! Happy weekend!
You know how people (and by people, I mean the bendy yogis) always say they had a beautiful practice?
Can I start calling my exercise pretty? Like…instead of ‘I had a sweaty strength set,’ can I start to tell folks I had a ‘gorgeous weight lifting workout?’ Or, how about, a ‘breathtaking (ha, pun totally intended) cardio session’?
I think I’m going to anyway. Just to shake up the zen vibe all of those yogis have going on.
I’ll be back with a real post later this week after I’ve recovered from a less than restful trip to Nashville! Good news is I still got my workouts in this weekend — and not just because Nashville is much hillier than I anticipated or because bachelorette parties require a lot of dancing in heels.
Happy Monday, y’all!
I’m all over talking about motivation this week, aren’t I? Maybe it’s because lately, with the cold weather and general hustle and bustle of the season I’ve needed a little extra to get my butt to the gym. Well friends, today I need your help in getting motivated. I’m headed home to Michigan for a few days for the holidays, but I still plan on getting my workouts in. However, I won’t really have access to all of the equipment I’m used to, so I’m going to need an extra push in the form of music to get me sweating. This is where you come in: what has been your JAM lately to work out to? What’s your fave tune for cardio? Strength? I plan on doing a little browsing on iTunes later, so tell me which songs absolutely make your sweat sessions. I love all kinds of music except country (that totally sounds like my old Facebook profile), so give me what you’ve got! I’d love to hear it!
On Wednesday of last week, I was about to head to Michigan for Thanksgiving, and I was running all over the place, trying to figure out when I was going to get a workout in. I was in a rush to get home to finish packing so that I wouldn’t miss my train (uh, almost did, and it would have been the third time I’ve done something like that so I’m glad I got lucky!), but I knew that fewer workouts would happen when I got to Michigan and just wanted to hang out with my family, so I HAD to sweat that day. I had started work at 5am that morning, and I didn’t feel like I was moving at my normal pace, so I had no idea how a good workout was going to happen in the short amount of time I had.
But when I got to the gym, I got inspired (ok, maybe there was some coffee involved, too) and I went to work. This workout took me 25 minutes altogether (OK, so not exaaactly a quickie), MAYBE 30 since I didn’t necessarily hustle to the treadmill to do sprints. To get the most bang for my buck, I warmed up for 3 minutes on the bike and jumped right into the strength routine. As soon as I finished my last triceps pulldown, I jumped right on the treadmill and was breathing hard in no time. [Sidenote: I’m learning that although I’m not running distance right now because my body HATES it, it seems to have no problem with me doing sprints. Plus when I’m cranking out a fast mile, I feel kind of badass.]
This workout is perfect for when you wake up late for work (if you’re one of those morning people) or get a last minute invite to dinner when you haven’t had a chance to hit the gym yet. Seriously, you don’t need a ton of time, but you DO need to work hard. Keep your body moving and your heart rate up, and an effective workout can be had in 30 minutes.
Quickest Workout Ever
15 Dumbbell Squats ( I used 25s since there was no bar in the area in which I was exercising), but go as heavy or as light as you need to)
20 double punch sit-ups
(do all x2)
15 lat pulldowns
20 hamstring curls on the ball
20 plank jacks
15 dumbbell chest press on ball (20s)
15 triceps pushdowns
10 minutes of alternating run/sprint, 1 min each
Another reason this workout is perfect if you’re super crunched for time is because it fits all of the important stuff in. You get your warmup, your cardio intervals, and strength training for all of the major muscle groups with cardio bursts in between. Because you’re training unrelated muscle groups you can move from one exercise to the next with no rest, ensuring you keep your heart rate up. This also helps increase endurance since you don’t stop moving, even though it is for different moves.
I was SORE after this workout, so I’m going to remind you: Don’t forget to stretch! I find that if you’re really running late, you can stretch those hamstrings in the shower as you rinse your conditioner out.
What are your favorite quick workouts? What are your favorite killer strength moves? What do you do when you only have 30 minutes?
Who else is glad that it’s FRIDAY?!
This week hasn’t exactly been stressful, but I guess it’s just been one of those weeks for me. This weekend, I plan on getting some good workouts in — boot camp tonight, training session tomorrow — and catching up on my writing and blog reading. And in general, I’m just going to try to pull it together! I want to make some more of my mom’s fab turkey chili too, and if I do, I’ll be sure to post a recipe! Or maybe just a picture because I’m still amazed that I haven’t minded being in the kitchen lately.
What about everyone else? What are you up to this fine fall weekend? Give me the details! I hope for your sake it’s something more exciting than what I’ve got going on!
And last item on the agenda… I need your help! I did some deadlift-y move the other day, and ever since, my hamstrings have been crying/screaming/preventing me from walking appropriately. I know I can foam roll and do the usual exercises, but anyone else have a creative or just really GOOD stretch that will restore my normal range of motion? Help!
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!
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 recently my friend Kira tweeted this at me: Hey, have you ever written about tips for getting back into exercise (or start) when you haven’t been doing any? And I realized that, nope! I haven’t! So let’s discuss!
Now, a little background here: Kira and I have been friends since freshman year at the University of Michigan where we were thrown together in a tiny little dorm room in Bursley Hall. Subsequently, we also ended up in the same a cappella group and the same sorority, so we realized we were going to be in this friendship for the long haul. Anyway, while I was very much a gym devotee, Kira was not. Don’t get me wrong, she liked to move and be active, but I don’t think she ever felt that compulsion to go sweat for 2 hours in the campus rec center every single day (plus, having a normal relationship with food along with good genes, she probably felt she didn’t need to), which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. But now she does want to hit the gym a little more, and I think this is a great thing.
I think as a lot of us are getting older (read: we’re actual adults with lives that don’t involve weekends full of beer and just a few classes to deal with), we’re realizing the importance of a regular workout routine. And when we haven’t had one in a while – or never had one — it’s important to have a plan for getting into it. So, here are a few guidelines for starting or getting back into regular exercise.
1) Pick something you like, or even LOVE. You all know that there are certain fitness philosophies I subscribe to, and one is that you need to sweat, and the other is that you need to do strength AND cardio. But with all of the options out there now, there are plenty of enjoyable and creative ways to do all of these things. Hate running? Don’t do it! If something is more painful than enjoyable for you, then you’re going to do it approximately twice and give up on exercise altogether. So try out a lot of things, and figure out which one gets you huffing and puffing with a smile on your face! If you detest pounding the pavement, then try a dance class or hit the pool. Can’t stand the weight machines at the gym? Then hire a trainer who will make it fun (or at least distract you by chatting with you while they make you squat) or take a class in which you will tell the instructor you are a newbie or just restarting a program, and plunk yourself down in the front row so that he or she can keep an eye on your form. Whatever gets you moving and fits the three requirements (sweating, cardio, and strength) is an awesome place to start!
2) Ease your way into it. As much as you want to dive right into a 5-day-a week routine, DON’T. I’m not saying don’t try to be active as much as you can, but think about your current level of fitness. How long has it been since you exercised last? What were you doing before, if anything? How does your body respond to change? What are your goals? Is your body ready for intense workouts? If it’s been years since you’ve exercised, and you were never really that athletic before, your body probably isn’t ready for 5-mile runs Monday through Friday. Be realistic. If you aren’t, you’ll either hate what you’re doing or you’ll be incredibly sore for days or you’ll actually injure yourself and end up sidelined for a while (read: you’ll be taking another break from exercise before you even get into your routine). Honestly, when you’re first starting out, don’t even exercise every day! (What? Is she crazy!?) Here’s an example: I recently started running again after a little summer love affair with my bike. I know that in the past I was able to run 6 miles no problem, but now? Not so much. So I devised a little plan for myself to get back into running. I only run 3 days per week (some days only 2 miles, others about 4), and do other cardio or strength on the rest of the days. I’ll build up from this schedule. Whenever I’ve tried to jump right back into it previously, I’ve had ankle and stress fracture issues flare up again, and I had to stop running. As much as I might be mentally ready to do 6 milers, I know that I’m not there physically. And that’s OK. I will be soon, but not if I keep pushing myself on the miles and days I run and get injured again. **NOTE: You will probably be sore after starting up again, but don’t mistake this for a pulled muscle or another injury and just stop exercising. Learn to know the difference.
3) Take your schedule into account. I know, I know. I should be telling you that you should always make time for exercise. And you really should. But I realize that when starting a new workout regimen, it can all be a little overwhelming. Just like I don’t want you to throw your body into a new, super rigorous routine without any preparation, I don’t want you to jump into it without considering your LIFE. Maybe 90-minute boot camps every day aren’t really going to work with your 12-hour work days. But maybe a quick half hour on the spin bike every other day and one or two days of 20-minute strength routines on your lunch hour is something you can make time for. (Also, see #2. Don’t throw yourself into something intense like a 90-min bootcamp that quickly!) Get used to your beginner routine and how it works with the time you have first, and then ramp it up from there. Baby steps are the way to go here, and I bet that once you make a little time, you find ways to make even more to keep progressing.
4) Hire a trainer. Yes, I’m a little biased because I am one, but I’ve also been a client, and I know how much this helped me. I also know that trainers are expensive, but if you have the means, hire one for just a session or two (or longer if you really have the means!). What you’ll learn will help you so much in creating and sticking to a plan. They can make sure you know proper form for strength moves and they can give you tips on how to commit to a workout routine. Plus, making an appointment with someone almost guarantees that you’ll get your exercise in for the day!
I’m sure I could go on and on about how to start or get back into working out, but I want to hear from you! How did you get yourself (back) into a routine? Any tips for those who have no idea where to start? Spill!