Monthly Archives: December 2013

12 Steps to Fitness – The Workout

I thought it was about time to post another workout. Yippee! And this is my all time favorite!

The 12 Steps to Fitness workout is based on the 12 Days of Christmas song, so what better time to pull it out than now?

I like to write it out on a big ‘ol white board for easy reference. You will be repeating each step a lot!


The workout has 3 sections which you will definitely notice when you are doing it. The first 4 steps are cardio and when put together really get your heart rate up. Steps 5-8 are core based with a little cardio in the middle and the remaining steps are mostly strength with weights (except Step 12 which is basically a free pass for doing such a great job on steps 1-11!)

Step 1 is one rep. Step 2 is 2 reps. Step 3 is 3 reps and so on.

Complete step 1.

Complete step 2 and step 1.

Complete step 3, step 2 and step 1.

Complete step 4, step 3, step 2 and step 1.

Continue in this manner until you complete step 12 all the way down to step 1.

Hey, this is just like the song!

So let’s get this party started!

Step 1 – Of course we start with a burpee with a push-up. Just 1.

Step 2 – Surfer Kickouts. I had to put a little California in here. Imagine you are on a surfboard. Do a burpee and instead of jumping straight up at the top, do a 180 degree turn so you are facing the back of your surfboard. Do another burpee and another 180. That is one rep. Now do it again to complete your 2 reps. Now repeat step 1.

At this point you might notice you just did 5 burpees (step 2 and step 1 combined). I’ve gotten heat about this from clients when the realization sets in. I know, I’m such a giver! Merry Christmas!

Step 3 – 3 squat jumps

DSC_0478Step 4 – 4 plyo stars.

Imagine an air jack but your arms don’t go higher than shoulder height.

This is my daughter doing plyo stars in our kitchen last Christmas Day. That’s how we roll at our house.

These are quite fun! (To watch and to do!)

They make me feel like a really bad ballerina!

Step 5 – Side plank on your forearm or on your hand. Now dip your hip down towards the floor and back up. That’s one rep. Do 5 on each side.

Step 6 – 60 seconds of plank. This is where the fun really starts. You can be on your forearms or your hands. It’s handy to have a clock around for this one.

<Don’t forget you are repeating each step all the way down to 1 after each new step>

Step 7 – 7 Suicide Tap Downs each side. I saw this somewhere and had to use it. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Do a lateral lunge, Jack or squat jump in the middle (squat jump is harder) and do a lateral lunge on the other side. That’s one rep. Sometimes I call this lunge-jack-lunge or lunge-jump-lunge. Whatever you call it, it will get your heart rate up for sure.

Step 8 – 8 Tricep Pushups

Step 9 – 9 split lunges each side. You may choose to hold a weight or 2 at this point. Get in lunge position and go up and down 9 times. Keep your core tight, your spine erect and your shoulders back and down. Also make sure you are not pressing your knee forward over your toe.

Step 10 – 10 bicep curls. Go as heavy as you can. It will be a while before you get back to these.

Step 11 – 11 Sumo squats. Your toes are pointed out at an angle and your squat is low. This is more of a plie’ than a traditional squat. You can hold a weight at chin height or low between your legs as you squat up and down. Advanced can choose to add a little hop in between squats turning it into a sumo squat jump. It’s OK to get creative!

Step 12 is the icing on the cake. Enjoy 12 jumping jacks (and don’t forget to repeat steps 11 down to 1)

Step 13 is not listed on the board, but this is where you can collapse in a sweaty heap on the floor.

You have completed the workout. Well done!

How long will it take?

That is a good question!

Depending on your fitness level, it can range to roughly 30 minutes to more than 50 minutes. It’s always fun to time yourself, but don’t sacrifice good form for a faster time!

A few tips

It is a great idea to write this out in large letters like on a white board or something you won’t ruin with your sweat drips.

I also use a clock with a second hand to time plank. Of course a smart phone works well too.

As with all my workouts, all the exercises are interchangeable. Have fun with it!

The Stats

If you complete the entire workout, here is your rep count:

Burpees (Steps 1 & 2 combined) – 56

Squat jumps – 30

Plyo Stars – 36

(That’s 122 cardio reps)

Side Plank Dips – 40 each side

Plank – Total of 7 minutes of plank when you’re done. WOW!!

Suicide Tap Downs – 42 lateral lunges each side with an additional 6 jacks or squat jumps!

Tricep Push-ups – 40

Split Lunges – 36 each side

Bicep Curls – 30

Sumo Squats – 22

Jumping Jacks – 12

Total rep count – roughly 350 with an additional 7 minutes of plank.


The Silver Lining

I developed extreme pain in my left foot a few weeks ago and diagnosed myself with plantar fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus). A little google search showed that it’s the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen and inflamed, and the heel or bottom of your foot hurts when you walk or stand. This explained what I was feeling to a ‘T’!

I’m not a baby, (well, not a huge one) and I can take my share of pain now and then. But with everything I read about how long it would take me to recover, I was freaking out a little bit. I thought of going to the doctor, but decided he’d just tell me to ice and rest, which is what I was doing anyway. Time would tell if I should seek medical attention.

For the first 5-7 days or so there was a constant dull ache throughout my foot (like a sprain) and it felt like I was walking on nails with every step. I’ve never actually walked on nails before, but in my opinion it couldn’t feel any worse than this did! During this time I stocked up on products that claimed to reduce plantar fasciitis pain.

I ended up with 3 things.

First was an arch support by Pro-Tec. I tried it on in the store and I thought it was amazing. Once I got it home though, I realized it put way too much pressure on the inflamed area. There was no way I could wear it at this point.

Next I tried KT tape. The first time I ever saw this colorful tape was on Kerri Walsh in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Surely if it worked for her it would work for me! Well, it might have if I had a different injury, but the foot and ankle move way too much and I had trouble getting it to stick.


My favorite find was ‘Feetures’ which is a sleeve or toeless sock. It helps lift and stabilize the plantar fascia in order to ease heel pain and reduce swelling. I’m not sure if it really did anything or just eased my mind because I thought it was doing something. Either way, I thought is was worth the money.

What I learned from this whole thing:

My real best friends were ice, rest and stretching:

I learned pretty quickly that a cold compress isn’t cold enough. If you have major swelling you need major cold and only real ice will do. Ice 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off and repeat. Do this often.

As far as rest goes, anything more than walking was off limits to me as long as I had any pain. This was a self imposed rule and it was a good one. I have to be strict with myself. I did do nonimpact workouts to keep myself sane though. It was OK as long as there was no pain involved.

Finally, stretching is a must! A common cause of plantar fasciitis is a tight Achilles tendon (the the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia. I have a habit of overtraining and not stretching enough. Who out there DOES stretch enough? Pat yourself on the back if you do!!

The Silver Lining

I’m not really sure if my self diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is an accurate one. Everything I’ve read says that it takes about 9 months to a year or more to fully recover if you’re careful. It only took me a couple of weeks. I do still feel a tiny bit of inflammation but no pain whatsoever.

The good news is that I learned to take better care of myself. I never meant to be a ‘do what I say, not what I do (or don’t do)’ type of trainer. This was an accident. Like everyone, I get busy and am often pressed for time. The truth is I would do a high impact workout and NOT stretch afterwards, and I did this repeatedly. I know you’re gasping right now. So am I!

You can’t constantly pound your body without it retaliating in some way. It wants proper rest. Your tight muscles need to be stretched.

I think I’m in a better place now having gone through this. Sometimes you need to get a little scared to change the way you do things. I’m actually thankful for this experience!

Last Thoughts

I really don’t recommend self diagnosis and think everyone should consult a physician if they have an injury. I’ve had many injuries and lots of visits to various doctors. I was just implementing what I already knew before going again.

Also, plantar fasciitis has many causes, but I just addressed it as it affected me.

Finally, stay healthy and active everyone! And don’t forget to stretch!