Showing posts tagged fitness
Stretching is kinda like eating vegetables….
You know you should do it often; you know it feels good when you do it. But you make excuses not to do it.
Are we really in too big of a hurry to stretch? Come on…be honest!
By my calculations, we only need 7 minutes to stretch.
So, for a bare minimum, you can do 30 seconds each side for a total of 1 minute per stretch to knock out:
- Hip Flexor (shown above)
- Back twist
The time we spend stretching will pay dividends in the long run. Tony Horton (the face of P90x) says, “if your flexibility is bad now, it’s only going to get worse as time passes.” That’s his pitch for EVERYONE to do yoga, and you can’t really argue with it. The least we can do is stretch, right?!
Since I’ve been injured/out-of-workout-commision, I’ve been doing A LOT of walking up inclines. So boring, I know, but it’s so effective! Plus, it’s the only way I can get my heart rate up without a lot of impact or pressure on my shoulders. Think about it: spinning demands some tension in your shoulders and lats. Sitting in a seat while peddling makes it almost impossible to get your heart rate into zones 4 and 5 without putting your joints at risk. All I have left is walking up an incline!
As someone who would rather run as fast as possible, I’ve found walking up an incline is a physical and mental challenge. One that gets my heart racing much quicker than running at 12.0. Bonus: It tightens and strengthens your hamstrings and glutes.
The key to my walking has been my form. Rich Shaw at BLAST900 has been watching me go through this for a while now. The first thing he corrected for me was my form. In the video we made above, he explains what most people do wrong when walking uphill and how to correct it.
At the end of the day, you want your workouts to be effective and safe!
“If it’s this bad now, imagine how bad it will be in 5, 10 years?”
He is referring to flexibility, but IT could be anything.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Tony and take one of his yoga classes. It was basic, but any yogi knows that holding poses is physically and mentally challenging. Tony claims that yoga and flexibility is the key to his fitness. Admittedly I haven’t taken yoga in a while, but thankfully my range of motion is still pretty good. At one point he came over to me and said, “hey, Gumbie’s sister, can you try to make this look hard?!” I guess I was successful in keeping my cool as my legs were DYING!
After class, I went up to him to grab this pic (As you can see, Tony is just as ripped in person as he is in the videos. It’s pretty amazing actually!) and told him that his program has changed the lives of several close friends. With his program of muscle confusion and regimented nutrition, they shed 30/40/50 pounds and continued the lifestyle after the 90 days. I believe it’s his different attitude towards fitness that keeps people motivated. He doesn’t try to scare people into gaining strength, he encourages you to just get moving and then push yourself. And he never raises his voice. (I kinda wish that he would, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be his nature.)
P90X DVDs have always been my go-to for travel exercises when I know I won’t be near a gym. No matter which one I chose, they’re always a welcome change from my usual workout routine. As the cold weather comes down upon us (or a super storm for that matter), you should consider buying the DVDs to use at home. You can find used sets on Amazon for as low as $80, which is much cheaper than a trainer or gym membership. P90X 2 is supposed to be more intense, so I look forward to trying it!
Many thanks Tony!
I used to do pushups on my knees simply because I didn’t think I was strong enough to do a real one. Then one day my trainer told me I was. Hmm, ok…. Before I knew it, I did 5 real push ups. Soon I was up to 10, then 20. Now I can do about 40 (50 on a good day) before I need a rest.
So now I’m passing on the confidence to you.
YOU CAN DO A REAL PUSHUP.
In this video, Stephen shows you a technique to help you make the transition from your knees to your toes. There is a middle ground where you can build the strength and confidence!
Changing your body is all about challenging it in a new way. If we do the same exercises we’re going to look the same.
This is one of the reasons I LOVE BLAST900 and why I keep using their workouts as an example. That, and you always want to know how I stay in shape! I’ve never done the same workout twice and I learn new exercises every time I walk in the door. So when I’m at the gym or traveling, I can add in some of their moves to keep my workout challenging and, more importantly, interesting.
For more fitness how-to’s and nutrition advice, you know you can always come here and search the archives (use the navigation above). I’m also now helping the BLAST900 team on their blog. Go there, follow them @BLAST900 on twitter and like them facebook for tips. I post one for them EVERYDAY!
TRAINING MY BODY TO BURN FAT, NOT SUGAR
When I think fat, the gym is THE LAST thing that pops into my mind. I see bikinis and cupcakes….and wine. (How did I forget that one in the pics?!) I want to eat cupcakes, drink often, and look good in a bikini, all of which screams to me crazy CARDIO, not a nice and steady aerobic workout where I barely break a sweat!
As Hilary my nutritionist tells it, I would be wrong.
My second thought is to lift weights and build lean muscle because it burns 35-40 calories a day, while fat only burns 5.
Hilary says I’m getting warmer!!
While I hate to admit it, and I have even been hesitant to accept it, Hilary’s philosophy on staying lean makes sense.
70-80% of your exercise should be Aerobic
20-30% should be Anaerobic.
Aerobic means keeping your heart rate in zone 3**. For me that is 145-165 beats per minute. Anything over that is zone 4-5, anaerobic crazy cardio. If we as women do too much cardio we train our body to burn sugar, not fat. This would be ok if we didn’t eat any fat I suppose, but fat is important to keep us full and our blood level stable. In other words, keep us from being cranky bitches.
Now let me explain from Hilary’s METABOLISM perspective.
Your metabolism is like fire and it needs oxygen for fuel. Intense cardio workouts that keep you breathing heavy don’t let you to take in oxygen without blowing it out instantly. A steady zone 3 workout, however, allows you breath in oxygen and let your body use it as fuel for your metabolism. So the more oxygen you get in there, the more capable your body will be to burn fat.
Here’s the new schedule she has set for me. I’m not a fan, but I’ll try it.
- Monday & Wednesday: BLAST class, Spinning, or weight lifting with sprinting intervals at the end. Objective: get muscle groups fatigued to SORENESS.
- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Zone 3 – jogging, bike, treadmill, elliptical for AN HOUR! How boring. Plus Yoga if I want.
- Friday: Lifting weights in Zone 3 and fatiguing muscle groups that did not get attention.
**Knowing your heart rate and VO2 zones is KEY to all of this. If that’s over your head (I’m right there with you), get your heart rate monitor and have it set to your body. The Age/Heart Rate Zone chart is based on averages, not the size of your own heart, which is what it’s all about.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SOULCYCLE
I’m writing a piece for The Huffington Post about visiting spin studios when you travel. It’s a fun thing to add to your itinerary and helps you stay in shape while you’re on the go. Soul Cycle, the wildly popular NYC spin studio where I taught from 2007-2009, seems to be the source of the resurgence of private spin studios (or at least the first to be nationally successful).
It’s hard to articulate the SoulCycle experience – dark room, loud music with a heavy beat, Swinn bikes lined up close together, inspirational instructor, dynamic ride that you can only do on an indoor bike – all of that sounds predictable. But the SoulCycle ride accesses some part of you that is screaming to get out and play! In the darkness, you can open yourself up to a personal journey and catharsis I’ve never felt in any other group fitness class. (Read one rider’s experience here). With this final piece and flawless branding, they’ve created a cultish following that packs their studios every hour and generates tons of press to the point that SoulCycle seems perfect.
As and instructor there for 3 years and a person who knows that nothing in life is perfect, I thought I’d give you the honest-to-goodness truth about Soul Cycle.
1. The ride is in fact the most exciting, uplifting, and fun fitness experience I’ve ever known. Period. It’s not THE HARDEST; it ‘s the one that keeps you mentally in shape to keep up your fitness routine. In other words, worth every penny.
3. Riding as a “posse” and not doing your own thing, you will ride harder and get stronger. Follow their instructions and learn how to ride their way.
4. Spinning does not make your legs “bulk up.” Think about it, it’s thousands of repetitions with light resistance that tones your legs, not make them huge.
5. Their many movements to make the class more dynamic and fun helps to isolate muscle groups, strengthen your core, and pull in your waistline.
6. All instructors are not created equal, but they’re pretty darn close. I like: Stacey, Laurie, Kym, Lori A, Janet, Melanie, and Sue.
7. You can’t rely on the class to be your only source of fitness. Even though the class includes an “arm segment” where you use weights to tone your muscles, it’s a cardio workout and you need to lift weights on other days.
8. You don’t burn as many calories in a spin class as you think you do. According to my heart rate monitor, I only burned around 420 per class (45 minutes), which is what I usually burn when I lift weights for 1.5 hours. In an hour BLAST900 class, I burn 600 calories.
9. FlyWheel was started by one of the founders of SoulCycle, Ruth Zuckerman, who I love and admire as a woman. I used to take her class often because that woman has serious soul. Ruth had to change the game to make her Flywheel different. By adding a computer to the bike, your ride focuses on RPMs and the power you are actually exerting. There is a big screen overhead so you can see how you compare to others in the room. The ride itself is in no way as introspective or as fun, in my opinion, but it’s challenging. If you don’t know SoulCycle, FlyWheel is a solid ride I bet will be a 100 times more exciting and productive than whatever your gym offers.
10. The SoulCycle family is not as inviting as you might want it to be. All of the staff works hard and efficiently. If you want in on a more personal level to join the inner circle party, you’ll have to make the effort to get to know the instructors and the other riders. When you do, you’ll appreciate the connection.
When I write the HuffPo piece you’ll have more perspective on what other studios offer in different cities. Unfortunately there’s not a lot out there that’s why you should make an effort to spin when you travel to the big cities. If you’re in NYC or LA, you now know where to go :)
YOU CAN GET A SOLID WORKOUT ON A FAMILY VACATION! AND I HAVE THE NUMBERS TO PROVE IT!
Last week I was on vacation with family and let me tell you, it’s the most exhausting thing I think I’ve ever done. I need a vacation after being on vacation! With the kids up at the crack of dawn, everyone wanting to go in different directions, plus the environmental elements - 98 degree blistering heat and ocean salt water - I was hardly able to move by 3pm.
BUT! I felt better the days I was able to exercise in the morning or late afternoon. Considering the exhaustion, I’m not sure why, my legs were dying after countless hours at the beach….but I really did appreciate getting my heart rate up and clearing my head.
Because we had kids with us, I knew I would be active anyway, but additionally I had a plan and a goal. The week before we left, I worked out hard Monday through Friday without taking a day off (which is usually Thursday). Because my body was worn out by the weekend, I was happy to give myself a much needed 2 day break when we began the trip. I brought my heart rate monitor and decided I would do whatever workout felt right and would strive to burn at least 400 calories. Here’s how my workouts went:
- Monday: Pure Barre class and 1 mile run (approx 580 calories)
- Tuesday: 1 mile run, lifting chest and back, 1 mile run (approx 500 calories)
- Wednesday: Nothing
- Thursday: 30 minutes on the treadmill, yoga (approx 600 calories)
- Friday: Nothing
- Saturday: 1 mile run, shoulders and abs, 1 mile run (approx 650 calories)
For all 4 workouts I actually exceeded my calorie burn. Even though the Pure Barre class was easy and totally boring, it still helped me reach my goal. The outdoor runs in the heat were really challenging and it helped me mentally to know they weren’t very long. The treadmill workout was a killer because I decided to do running uphill intervals.
So in 30 minutes I stayed in zones 4 and 5 (aerobic) with my heart rate and burned 422 calories, which is pretty amazing for me. On Saturday, when I took the headline photo at the top, you can see I burned 687 calories in about an hour and a half.
NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING: Of course I found time to workout because I always do. Normal people don’t do that on vacation. I have to tell you, that’s just not true. In the mornings, mommies and daddies were pounding the pavement on rigorous runs and packing themselves into the gym to get in their workout before the day began.
Trust me, I know it’s hard to get going, I had to force myself to exercise, and I never regretted it! If you you need some inspiration, browse my archives for exercises and tips and click here for my vacation workouts. You have options, you just have to want to take them.
Arm exercises you can do while you’re walking.
Also note: the longer you can hold your arms above your head, the higher your heart rate will go.
As I get older, I find I’m not as self-conscious or as concerned as I used to be with looking AMAZING in a bikini. I mean, really, what’s the point? If we are living a healthy lifestyle, keeping ourselves fit and lean, then we should just be able to keep on doing what we’re doing in terms of diet and exercise during the summer.
That being said, bikini season is a great time to improve upon your routine or set new goals.
By now you should know that a crash diet isn’t going to help you. You’ll just loose water weight, be miserable, and then bounce back to your old weight or possibly more. More exercise or changing your regemin will help you!
In other words, or how I interpret this is, women need to start lifting, not just burning burning burning calories with cardio workouts.
Lifting weights will help you get stronger and skinnier by keeping your heart rate low in the fat burning zone.
I know what you’re thinking, “if I lift weights then I’m going to bet bigger and bulky, not thinner?” Wrong! Lifting moderately heavy weights for 15-20 reps will get you TONED!
My suggestion: ADD TWO DAYS OF WEIGHT LIFTING TO YOUR CURRENT WORKOUT ROUTINE. You’ll do 10 minutes of cardio to warm up, lifting weights in 3 muscle groups for 40 minutes, 5 minutes of crunches (Click here for Ab exercises), 5 minutes of stretching.
Here are the different muscle groups to choose from with exercise how-to links. Do not use weights lighter than 10 pounds and try to bust out 15-20 reps.
**SHOULDER WORK IS IMPORTANT TOO! I didn’t include shoulders because you usually get a lot of shoulder work in group fitness classes. Click here for shoulder exercises possibly on a cardio day.
I totally forgot about this move that works chest, triceps, lats, and your core. It would be a great one to incorporate into your chest day!
Please remember your form when lifting heavy weights. Your core should be tight and engaged. Pull your shoulders back and away from your ears. And most importantly, breath! Exhale with your exertion.
I just watched this video with my jaw on the floor. No way I can do these exercises!!! Their slogan, “It’s not fitness. It’s life. Equinox.” is totally accurate because the only place I’ve seen men who look like that and can do those moves on a daily basis is at Equinox West Hollywood, where people spend 3 hours a day at the gym and every meal eating mountains of veggies.
Also love the egregious hanky panky shot. Lol.
For the last 4 months, my trainer Cederick (see my workouts here) has been working to max out his bench press at 400 pounds by his 50th birthday - a weight he used to press daily when he was younger. Holy cow, that’s intense! I honestly have the same reaction when people tell me they are training for an Iron Man (read Reilly’s tumblr here) or even a marathon (like Rebecca).
Everyone has a different motivation to exercise. The friends I mention above have very clear goals. In the past decade, my goals have included:
- Maintaining my strength and wellness.
- Staying lean and fitting into my clothes.
- Carving out an hour a day at least 5 days a week.
When I was younger my goals were in the sports areas of volleyball and basketball. Sports gave me an means to see my progress in endurance and accuracy that general exercise has not.
So, what am I really working towards now??
As I’ve told you, over the last month I’ve been wearing a heart rate monitor so I can track how my heart performs and how many calories I’m burning each workout session. I started out with my max heart rate being 187 and my caloric goal of 580 (see how I figured that out). While the calories are important, I have been focusing more on my heart rate zones in my cardio workouts to see how hard I push myself even though I want to stop. When I teach spin I push people to their max, but it’s hard to do that for myself, which is obviously why group fitness is so popular.
Last week in my Blast900 class, Missi pushed me to a heart rate high of 193! Without any thought to do so, I just kept going and my heart rate continued to climb. Now that I know I can get to that level, I try to hit it in my other cardio workouts. It’s tough! But my attempts are valuable for my physical and mental progress in my exercise.
When I look back at Cederick and the Iron Men, I see they are striving for their maximum effort. It’s not achievable everyday, but it’s a goal to set, and knowing you can achieve it motivates you to TRY for more on a daily basis.
What goals have you set these days and how do you measure them? One of the most important part about challenging yourself and seeing progress in your workout is taking on something different to change up your routine. If we all share our perspectives, we’ll have many new goals we can take on!
THE DOUBLE BOSU PUSH UP! You can do it!!
Now that you’ve given your body a nice long rest over the holiday, you can actually work HARDER when you get back to the gym. Cardio will be challenging, but lifting should feel remarkably easier.
Sometime this week, take on the double boss push up. If I can do it, you can too! The only thing you need is core strength. If you’re not sure if your abs are strong, this is a great test. If you know you’re not at this level yet, try the pushup with just one bosu under your feet and then add the ones under your hands later.
This is a tough one, which means the satisfaction of doing it will be worth the effort!