SUP: Fitness & Leisure

Stand Up Paddle Boarding or SUP has exploded in popularity in the past few years.  What was once an activity we saw celebrities partaking in, has become an almost mainstream workout or vacation activity.  Paddle board rentals are popping up … Continue reading

5 Day Fitness Blender Challenge

It’s been a while since I have reviewed a workout and I am excited to share with you my experience with Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Challenge to burn fat and build lean muscle!

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I came across the challenge on Sunday August 17th via Instagram and decided to add it to my workout regimen for the upcoming work week.  I was in a bit of a workout rut and becoming bored by my strength training routine so It was a welcomed change.  You can find all the workouts on YouTube and they are 100% free.  Start with Day 1 and you will easily find Days 2-5 on their channel. 

The workouts are all about 50 minutes long, which includes a warm up and a cool down.  This challenge is definitely easy to fit into a busy schedule and requires minimal equipment, all you need is dumbbells.  I supplemented a bit by adding barbells, kettlebells, a weight bench and a step  to increase the intensity of strength routines.  When a HIIT Exercise was not taxing enough I added some weight as well. 

Day 1: HIIT Routine & Total Body Strength Training

Day 2: Fat Burning Cardio Intervals with Upper Body Strength Training

Day 3: HIIT Cardio & Abs

Day 4: Cardio Kickboxing & Upper body Strength Training & Yoga Segment

Day 5: HIIT Cardio & Butt and Thigh Strength Routine

Overall I think the program was beneficial to my fitness routine.  It was nice to check out mentally for a week and perform another fitness professional’s program without having to design my own workout schedule.  I definitely had some soreness but the program is designed to create a balance of work and rest, so while one muscle group is healing you are working another part of the body. 

The HIIT Routines were fun and presented in a tabata style on most days.  On day 2,3 & 4 I skipped a lot of the rest periods and continued with the HIIT/Cardio moves to increase intensity.  This challenge is made to cater to a range of fitness levels so in order to keep my heart rate up I modified exercises and skipped rest intermittently. 

I found the workouts to be a little on the short side, but I still sweat my butt off and finished with my heart thumping. Day 4 was definitely the easiest day.  In Kickboxing you get out what you put in, so you really have to push yourself to get your heart rate up and feel the workout the next day.  Kickboxing is a great way to rest a bit without taking a day off, and I love that Daniel and Kelly used it as a way to recover along with some yoga exercises. 

Day 1 was my favorite workout and Day 5 was too short for my liking.  When adhering to my own workout schedule my workouts never really fall short of an hour, so 40 minutes including the warm up and cool down just doesn’t feel like enough.   However, I had gone paddle boarding with my Storm Fitness team for 3 hours on Friday morning and a short workout was welcome after all the core work I did while on the Potomac.  Plus there is something about spending time on the water that just wears me out, in a good way. 

Kelly and Daniel show modifications for every exercise they perform, so whether you are a novice or a fitness fanatic, this challenge can easily be added to your weekly routine.  They also show you how much weight they are using for each exercise. I like this concept, but they lift pretty light. Be sure you are challenging yourself without comprising your form.  I found myself lifting the same as Daniel if not more and I am not a heavy lifter by any means. 

The day after the challenge I did  a 50 minute Yoga video to hit my reset before button getting into another week of intense fat burning workouts.  I had a lot of fun trying something new and I felt great by the end of the week.  I was not overly sore or tight but that is in part due to a daily foam rolling ritual.  I will say, I went for a 5 mile run on Sunday and my body felt great. I would recommend this challenge to friends, clients and even my crazy fit mom 🙂

 

Fat Burning Spin Routine

Being a personal trainer, I have to create cardiovascular routines for a wide variety of fitness levels, injuries, muscle imbalances and age brackets.  I often see my clients slacking off when I prescribe time on a stationary bike or elliptical, … Continue reading

A Video Review: Get Extremely Ripped & Chiseled with Jari Love

It has been a while since I did a workout video other than YogaDownload.  In the past month I have picked up a new weight lifting routine which includes heavier weight and lower repetitions compared to my past circuits.  Being … Continue reading

The Muscle Confusion Debate

This week I had a great conversation with a client and it led me to writing this blog post.  We were talking about the principle of Muscle Confusion.  Which States that muscles accommodate to a specific type of stress and … Continue reading

The Best Detox: Exercise

This past weekend I went to Las Vegas to “celebrate life” with my best friends.  After two full days of ongoing alcohol consumption, very little sleep and no exercise (dancing excluded) our bodies were wrecked.  Our raspy voices, under eye bags and off kilter digestive systems proved it.  Today I am feeling a little inspired by our distressed physical state and would like to share how I rid my body of toxins after vacation or in our case a bender…a juice cleanse is not the answer.

detox)Lately cleanses and detoxes are everywhere: “Drink this sugary green juice for three plus days and detoxify your body”.  Everyone who knows me has heard me rant about how pointless and counterproductive juice cleanses can be.  I have advised clients and friends against them.  But all the skinny celebrities do it and they look good, so I am ignored.  This leads them to go through with the cleanse; depriving themselves for a three to fourteen day period followed by a fat and carbohydrate binge.  In the end you are just putting more stress on your body and creating more toxins.

The thing is, your body is naturally designed to detoxify. It is in a constant state of detoxification (or ridding of waste).

  • Ever heard of poop? pee? I don’t mean to be vulgar, but your colon and kidneys do a pretty good job if you let them.
  • Our lungs serve as a  filter.  Debris and toxins are removed before delivering oxygen throughout the body.
  • The lymph system picks up any unwanted substances to filter through your lymph nodes.
  • Our skin rids our body of toxins through perspiration.

Did you know your body detoxes 8 times faster when in motion versus when sedentary? So why does exercise aid in detox?

  • You get your blood flowing, which prompts your organs to do work (liver, lymph nodes, digestive system).
  • You breath deeply and circulate oxygen to through the body, giving off carbon dioxide (a waste product).
  • You sweat, washing out waste and toxins in your perspiration.
  • You move and fire up lymph to circulate through the body.  The lymph system has no pump like the circulatory system, so to activate, you must be in motion.
  • You reduce stress, which has a toxic effect on the body.

In order to be successful in detoxifying you must be drinking plenty of water to help flush out  waste products.  So before you start your exercise, make sure your pee is clear.  When you are looking to rid the body of toxins engage in  aerobic exercise at a low to medium intensity.  This allows you to breath evenly, delivering oxygen to the body.  By getting your heart rate up, blood begins pumping through out the body, activating your detoxifying organs.  You don’t want to be gasping for air, instead you should try the talk test.  If you are able to talk comfortably while exercising, you are at the right intensity for detoxification.  Low Intensity Steady State (also known as LISS) exercise can be performed through briskly walking, running, cycling, swimming and yoga.

Do you exercise with a hang over? It’s sort of my M.O.  I usually roll and of bed, chug water until my pee is clear and get out the door on my run before the worst of it even hits.  It’s usually pretty miserable, but by the time I finish and rehydrate I am ready for my day.

So next time you wake up after a night of drinking or over eating, skip the fad cleanse.  Run long and slow, or engage in a Vinyasa flow.  Drink tons of water before and after to flush toxins.

Below is 30 minute detox flow yoga video. It will help to heat up the body and wring out toxins with twists.  The instructor Clara Roberts-Oss is one of my favorites. I hope enjoy!

For more information on exercise as detox click here.

Failing at the “Easy Run”, A Post on Recovery

I came up with the idea for today’s blog post when trudging up a steep hill on yesterday’s run.

Yesterday it was about 90 degrees and muggy. Miserably muggy.  It was overcast and I was due for a run so I decided to attempt a LISS workout.

LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State, and it is basically any exercise that it performed at a low[er] intensity for an extended period.  We often hear how endurance work is  disadvantageous to weightless, this is where cult fitness has been lying to you.   After performing high intensity work consistently, our body needs to recover. LISS helps flush out the metabolic by-products from your previous intense workout.  When you get your blood pumping for an extended period you are able to deliver oxygen to  fatigued muscles. Taking part in a LISS and working your aerobic system after a high intensity session will help prep you for your next session by replacing ATP.  The takeaway here is that LISS workouts aid in recovery. 

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Snap Shots of My 6 Mile Loop

Back to my LISS workout.  I was going to do my usual 6 mile loop SLOWLY. It was hot and I was sore, so I thought it would be no problem. I started off channeling my inner chi runner and taking smaller strides, breathing deeply and easing into my run.  I was doing well with the LISS principal for about 1.5 miles when a hot shot (and shirtless) sweaty runner ran past me.  I grunted and made myself hold back, keeping my slow pace.  Then I approached my stairs (above).  I have to run down them to continue on the path, so I usually spend 1-2 minutes running stairs then continue on with my run.  I stayed strong and ran right down the stairs to continue around the lake.  As I came around a corner I approached another runner. She was decked out in expensive running gear and a fancy watch–that is where I snapped.  I had to race her and win and I knew my LISS workout ended at mile 2.  I caught up with her, said hello, and zoomed around the rest of the lake, heading for my first long hill and 4 more hilly miles under 07:30.  In my defense, it is really hard to do a low intensity run with the amount of hills I encounter. My heart is in my throat the whole run.

You don’t have to dedicate a whole workout to LISS if you don’t have the time or patience.  After you finish your HIIT workout, boot camp, or heart pumping run–go for a 20 minute slow run, walk or cycle.  It will allow you to cool down, circulate blood through your capillaries,  begin to deliver nutrient rich oxygen to fatigued muscles and replenish your supply of ATP.  After I workout I take my dog on a 15-30 minute walk to cool down.  It kills two birds with one stone and allows my neighbors to witness me at my sweatiest, which is terrifying.

Recovery is one of my weak spots, although I am much better than I used to be in regards to “listening to my body”. It is a weekly struggle. Every time I opt for a yoga class over a long run there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In this case the angel is yoga or another form of low intensity exercise.   I recover to avoid injury and prepare myself for my next workout.  I plead with my clients to do the same.  When your body is exhausted, chose recovery or rest.  If it is a choice between sleeping in and getting those 7-8 hours or getting 5-6 hours and squeezing in a workout, chose sleep.  Working past exhaustion and foregoing sleep are two counterproductive approaches to health and fitness.

If you have had a crazy week of heart pumping workouts, go for an hour long cycle or run.  Maybe even a fast pace walk with a friend at dusk. Depending on the degree of intensity you are working at, you may want to alternate HIIT with LISS workouts.  I will take another stab at a LISS run next week, probably on the day I return from Las Vegas…recovery will be a necessity.

For more about LISS, check out this article from my favorite blog!

Review: Cindy Whitmarsh UFIT Series

On Monday I received Cindy Whitmarsh’s UFIT series from 411 Video Information to blaze through and review.  The series consists of three separate videos: The Ultra Lean, The Ultra Tight and The Ultra Burn.  Each DVD is 4o minutes long, with two 20 minute interval training workouts.  These workouts are based on the principals of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and are designed to blast calories and tone in a minimal amount of time.  There are three exercises per circuit; 1 minute of cardio and two minutes of strength/toning exercises.  Each circuit is performed only once, with no repetition of exercises.  If you want the short version of this review, scroll to the bottom and read my “Takeaway”. 

Cindy WhitmarshTuesday I started with Ultra Lean.  This DVD consisted of two 20 minutes interval training workouts.  The first segment focuses on the upper body: working biceps, triceps and shoulders. There is one minute of cardio exercise  for every two minutes of strength training.  Cindy uses a number of traditional strength exercises and drills that are easy to catch on to if you are new to strength training or just a little rusty.  The upper body segment requires dumbbells, I used a set of 8lbs.  While 8 lbs worked well for most the exercises, I could definitely have used a set of 10-12 lbs for some of the shoulder and bicep work.  I would recommend having a range of weights handy depending on your ability.

The 20 minute lower body portion of the Ultra Lean DVD followed a similar sequence working in cardio and strength training.  Again, most of the exercises are ones you have likely seen/done in the past, making it easy to catch on.  I wish I had  heavy weights on hand for the dead-lift intervals because I did not feel challenged.  Most of her lower body strength exercises focus on the butt.  At the end of the video she burns out your tush with a lot of glute work.

Wednesday Morning I jumped right into another DVD from Cindy’s Series.  I went with Ultra Tight to start my day.  You can see a trailer above.  Hard Body is the first of the two workouts included in Ultra Tight.  This was a total body workout that focused on multi-joint functional movements all while keeping your heart rate up with cardio intervals.  The Hard Body segment  kept my heart rate medium/high for the full 20 minutes.  6-Pack Abs is the second workout in the Ultra Tight DVD.  It includes both standing and mat work with one minute of cardio for every two minutes of toning.  I liked the fact that the cardio moves worked the core, allowing you to really burn out your middle for the full 20 minutes.

Tip: If you own a kettlebell or a dumbbell 12+ lbs, I recommend having it handy for the swings performed in Hard Body (if you are familiar with kettlebell swings).  A 8-10 lb dumbbell was too light for me in that movement.  If you are new to weights, an 8lb dumbbell will work fine.

I really enjoyed the Hard Body workout because you are working your upper body, lower body, core and cardiovascular system simultaneously for the full 20 minutes.  I also appreciate that Cindy implements cardio into the abdominal routines for the 6-Pack Ab workout.  I often find that abdominal workouts get a little slow and relaxed, but that was not the case with this routine.  The Ultra Tight cardio moves were a little more advanced than the Ultra Lean DVD, which made it my favorite of the two strength focused DVDs.  Overall, I enjoyed this workout and I would definitely continue to make it part of my fitness regimen.

Thursday I woke up sore, tired and groggy so before I began my UFIT series I did a short yoga practice to wake up.  The last DVD in the series is called Ultra Burn.  This DVD consists of a cardio workout and a workout called Sculpt and Stretch.  I sweat my butt off during the cardio.  It consisted of  athletic moves like jump squats, lunges and kicks.  I made a few modifications to increase the intensity; adding weights and by making exercises pylometric.  Sculpt and Stretch was an active recovery.  It was a mixture of exercises to lengthen muscles and tone.  Cindy used a lot of modified yoga postures and added pulses and movements to make the stretches more athletic and dynamic.  The stretches were paired with strength exercises to tone and improve balance.  I would recommend doing the cardio portion right before the Sculpt and Stretch because your muscles are really warm and it makes for a good recovery sequence.

Takeaway

After several weeks of this workout series you would need to up your weights and add dumbbells to body weight moves to continue to challenge your body.  For me, 40 minutes is just a little bit too short.  But keep in mind, this does not include a warm up or cool down.  I did like how the workout was broken up into two segments.  It is great for people with a time pinch who cannot dedicate an hour each day to a fitness routine or for those who are not physically ready for an hour long interval training workout.  It also allows you to mix and match workouts, depending on your day or cardiovascular exercise regimen. The series is $40 and includes a meal plan and exercise schedule which unfortunately I do not have access to.  I think beginners could start with one 20 minute workout in addition to their running/walking/biking routine and progress to completing 2-3 workouts at a time.  If I were advising clients, I would recommend they start with the Ultra Lean, move onto the Ultra Tight and finish with the Ultra Burn series.

I was afraid that the series would not be high enough impact for me, but I experienced muscle soreness from the first DVD on Wednesday and I am still sore today (Thursday).  I think this series is effective because of it’s pace.  There is not time for rest or too much instruction between exercises.  In addition, the exercises are athletic and uncomplicated so you can easily modify them to increase or decrease the intensity level if you need to.  This is a great DVD to break out when you are crunched for time as well.  It is a relatively flexible series and could meet the needs of a wide range of fitness levels and lifestyles.  Since it appeals to a large audience,  I could see myself recommending this to my clients as a routine for their off days.

I want to advise you to warm up and cool down. There is no warm up in any of the workouts so please take about five minutes to heat up your body before you  begin.  I did a short 10 minute yoga flow before beginning since I roll out of bed and workout in the mornings. Below I have posted a good 4.5 minute warm up from Fitness Blender. You can do this prior to any of the UFIT workouts if yoga is not your thing.  In addition, you need to be cooling down.  Cindy gives you a 1-2 minute stretch and no cool down.  Chose an easy exercise that keeps your body moving and brings your heart rate down before you static stretch.  Don’t skip stretching, your muscles will pay for it the next day.

Recommended Warm Up:

Video Review: Sweat Unlimited with Sara Haley

Yesterday I received 11 videos from 411 Video Information   to complete and review.  I pretty much ran to my leasing office after work so I could pick up the package and get started.  I was predictable and started with the video that looked the most difficult, SWEAT UNLIMITED with Sara Haley.  The DVD contained 5 different workouts:

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  1. Sweat Extreme 5: This was a 5 minute video containing Sara Haley’s “Favorite Moves”.  In my opinion, 5 minutes is too short to have separate from the longer routines.  I would have preferred this tacked onto Sweat Strength 15.  There was a fantastic “Surfer Burpee” exercise in this segment that I will definitely revisit in designing my own workouts!
  2. Sweat Strength 15: This was a sculpting segment.  I would describe it’s intensity level to be low for someone with an intermediate-advanced fitness level.  However, for most women, I think it has some great sculpting moves.
  3. Sweat Cardio 30:  This cardio workout is actually 35 minutes long and consist of dance inspired exercise moves.  I would describe it as a fusion of dance and traditional sculpting exercises.  She uses lunges, squats, and some kickboxing to up the intensity.  Again, this video was not high intensity for my fitness level, so I modified the workout by adding on jump squats, burpees, and other plyometric movements.  I was definitely squirting sweat by the time I finished.  For women with a more general fitness level, I think this video would bring the heart rate up and keep it there to provide a good cardiovascular challenge.
  4. Sweat Box 45:  Tabata inspired kickboxing, now this was fun! I love kickboxing and I love tabata, so Sara won me over with this one.  Her tabata consisted of four rounds of two exercises with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest.  She included a good amount of core work on top of the kickboxing and I feel it in my upper abdominals today.  I personally would have preferred to have the tabatas be at least 30 seconds long and ideally closer to 40-45 seconds. I was naughty and I worked through the rest interval.  I don’t recommend skipping the rest unless you 1) regularly partake in intermediate-advanced  HIIT or Tabata workouts or 2) are doing the modified movements.
  5. Sweat Stretch 5: Five minutes of stretching after the dynamic workout you just completed is not enough! I would have liked to see a yoga style stretch or something with more emphasis on the legs.

I did the Sweat Box 45 last night after I got off work then completed the Cardio 30, Strength 15, Extreme 5 and Stretch 5 before heading to work this morning.  My workout this morning came to exactly one hour which worked out perfectly.  I am happy to report that my back is sore from all the jabs, uppercuts and hooks from last night.

This DVD is dynamic, it has a little bit of everything which is great for anyone with a short attention span or those who get bored easily.  Sara has some creative exercise moves, especially in the Sweat Cardio 30 and Sweat Box 45 workouts.  While the DVD advertises that there are a total of five workouts, three of the segments are under 16 minutes and two of them last only five minutes, one being a stretch.  I think you could easily create two complete workouts with this DVD, but I don’t think it would be overkill to knock out the whole series in one day.

I am not usually into dancing or dance workouts.  Anyone who knows me, is aware that I am a terrible terrible dancer.  My coordination is fine as long as I have a dumbbell, jump rope or kettlebell in my hand. As soon as there is some hip swaying involved I look like a fool. I lack finesse for sure, but I am trying to go outside of my fitness bubble to test workouts that could benefit my clients.  I will be recommending SWEAT UNLIMITED to clients who enjoy dancing, zumba or kickboxing.  Another great thing about this DVD is that it is equipment free, making it a great travel companion!

Another bonus that came from this experience was finding Sara Haley’s Blog!   I love finding reputable fitness industry professionals to follow via social media.  Go ahead and like her Facebook page too for recipes and fitness tips.

 

 

Video Review: Amy Dixon’s Raise Some Bell

Lately I have been in a rut with my workout DVDs.  After a while the same workout on a regular basis gets repetitive and dull.  So I have become consumed in creating new and creative circuit style workouts for myself almost everyday.  I do start to miss being instructed, and since I have been lacking a workout buddy the past couple of weeks, the gym is getting a little lonely.  So last night I had the company of Amy Dixon, a 15 lb kettlebell and my puppy Petey during my sweat session.

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Raise some Bell is a kettlebell routine, which I am sure you could have guessed.  The workout is a total body routine that lasts 40 minutes including warm up, cool down and a stretch.  There is also a 7 minute “Ultimate Kettle bell Core Workout” on the DVD.

The warm up was great.  I loved how Amy warmed up our  wrists.  It is not your first thought to prepare your wrists, but I pulled my right wrist during kettlebell workouts in the past so I can appreciate the attention to detail.  We dynamically moved through stretches and exercises that prepared us for the powerful moves to come while bringing our heart rate up.  I can definitely see this warmup working in more than just a kettlebell routine.

The Workout consisted of powerful ballistic moves such as swings as well as exercises you would typically do with your basic dumbbell.  The way Amy creates a combination flows well and I enjoyed putting together the exercises.  It allowed me to get a feel for each more before adding on.  My favorite exercise from the workout was the “Rainbow”, It’s a swing with a 180 degree continually pivot on one leg, I felt it over my entire body.  I am a sucker for anything ballistic.  I used a 15 lb kettlebell for the entire workout, but I wish I had a 10 or 12 lb bell for both the hammer curl and the jerk.  I found myself struggling to balance the bell by the horn during the curl.  15 lbs was not to heavy for my right arm during the jerk, but I struggled a bit on my left arm.  I should probably invest in a lighter bell not only for my clients, but for myself as well!

Some of the moves were a little complex, and it took me a few reps to get them down, surely my second time completing this video will be more beneficial than the first.   The moves were powerful and challenging, I felt like superwoman while I was jerking out my reps.  Kettlebell training definitely gives me a high that is different than running and plyometrics and I cannot get enough of it.  I will say, I am pretty sore today.  I need to make a commitment to break out my bell more often after experiencing my body’s reaction to the workout the next morning.

The workout takes a lot of thought and coordination to safely complete the exercises, so the time flew by quickly.  I did not believe Amy when she said we were on our last move of the day.  I do wish the workout was a little longer. I prefer my workouts to be about an hour.

The ab workout is separate on the DVD menu so I completed the 7 minute routine after I cooled down.  I would have liked to tackle abs before the cool down.  The exercises were functional and an all over core workout rather than targeting the superficial muscles, which I liked.

All in all, I give this Kettlebell routine 4 out of 5 stars.  I really loved the exercises and combinations but it was just a little too short and I wish the ab routine came before the cool down.  I will definitely be doing this workout again though.  It is great for when you need a solid workout and you have less than an hour to fit it all in!