Category Archives: Gym

One of my Favorite Things: The Mini Jambox by Jawbone

When I find something I love I want to tell everyone!

I’ve had a big Jambox for several years and I love it. I taught outdoor boot camp and I lugged this 3 lb. speaker with me everywhere (along with all of my other equipment.) At the time I didn’t mind at all. The sound was great, and the battery life was exceptional (at 15 hours).

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I started teaching indoor boot camp about a year ago and I didn’t have to provide my own speakers anymore. This was wonderful! I didn’t miss the extra 3 lbs. of baggage at all.

One day, however, I showed up to class only to find the cable that connects my iPod to the stereo was missing. It wasn’t a standard cable either, so no one had a substitute on them or in their car. Imagine telling your class that shows up at 5:30 in the morning that they have to work out with NO music. It was not a great start to their day (or mine). After that my 3 lb. Jambox once again became a staple in my bag of tricks. Now it was a love/hate relationship though as it took up a lot of space and added more weight.

This is what I typically haul around and carry the length of a football field and back to teach my class.

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Enter the mini Jambox! This was perhaps my favorite Christmas gift this year!

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The new mini Jambox comes in 9 colors and only weighs 9 oz. It’s much smaller than the big Jambox but the battery life is still very good at 10 hours. I think it lasted even longer than that for me though.

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To get a better perspective of it’s size, I took a picture of it with my iPod. Now this I don’t mind adding to my bag!

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The mini Jambox comes with a stereo cable and a micro USB for charging. You can also pair it with your device via bluetooth. Also, at a press of a button it tells you how much battery life is remaining. This is a feature I love!

The Jawbone website sells a carry case for $30, but I use an old sunglass case. Works for me!

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Although the club where I teach has since replaced the stereo cord, I will continue to carry around this portable speaker and never be caught unprepared again.

It’s amazing how happy a little device can make you feel!

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!

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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.

Deck of Cards – The Workout

If you play your cards right you can get an excellent workout whether or not you’re a few cards short of a full deck!

Just a little humor to introduce one of my very favorite workout formats! I’ve seen different versions of the Deck of Cards concept, but this is mine.

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What Is it?

You really do use a full deck of playing cards to guide your workout! Place the deck face down and flip one card over at a time. Each suit is assigned a certain exercise, or in my version two different exercises, and the number on the card tells you how many reps to do. Face cards and Aces are always 15 reps. Your challenge is to complete the entire deck.

Why I LOVE it!

There is definitely an element of surprise. You can do this over and over again and always have a different result. You can also change out the exercises each time you do it so it’s a totally different workout. The possibilities are endless. If you want ho-hum and boring, please do not try this at home. It gets extra fun and challenging if you turn over 2 face cards of the same suit in a row. That’s 30 reps please!

How to Play

The first suggestion is to grab a friend or ten! Of course this can be done solitaire style, but a partner can help you press on if you end up having to do 30 Burpees in a row. Yes I did use the ‘B’ word, and it’s highly recommended you include them as part of this workout because they are awesome. I’ve done this format in a boot camp, with partners and by myself with my dogs licking my face. The last option would be OK minus the dogs.

Planning the workout

You can choose 4 body weight/cardio type exercises or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Push-ups – Hearts
  • Burpees – Spades
  • Sit ups – Clubs
  • Squat Jumps – Diamonds

You can choose 4 strength exercises (add weights) or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Overhead press – Hearts
  • Squat – Spades
  • Russian twist – Clubs
  • Hammer curl with tricep extension – Diamonds

First, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle the deck. You don’t want to know the order of the cards, that would ruin the fun!

Second, divide the deck equally in two.

The first half of the workout is your cardio time. You will only do the 4 body weight/cardio type exercises for the first 26 cards. For example, for every Heart you turn over you will do pushups, and for every Spade you will do burpees. Remember, you do the number of reps that’s on the card you turn over,  and all face cards are 15 reps.

After you complete the first 26 cards you move on to the strength portion of the workout. Now every time you turn over a Heart, you will do the overhead press, Spades become squats, etc.

I threw in a special exercise for Aces just for variety.

Every time you turn over an Ace, whether it’s in the first half of the deck or the second, you perform walking lunges with a twist, 15 each side or a total of 30.

Variations

My favorite way to do this workout is the way I described above, however, you can put it together in different ways.

First, you can just do the top 4 body weight/cardio type of exercises for the entire workout, while also adding in the walking lunges for the Aces. This  works especially well if you don’t have equipment. When you add up all the reps per exercise type, it’s quite impressive! (But if you like nice round numbers like me, you might want to throw in an extra rep of each!) Here are the stats:

  • Push-ups 99
  • Burpees 99
  • Sit ups 99
  • Squat Jumps 99
  • Walking lunges with a twist 120

Second, you can do the whole workout with weights, like the second half of the workout. I’ve never tried it this way though, so if you do, let me know how it goes.

Third, you can throw all my suggested exercises out the window and use your own!

Final Thoughts

I’m going to lay my cards on the table and say I love to combine cardio and strength in all my workouts. The beauty of this though, is that YOU hold all the cards. So what will it be?

The Power of Push-ups

I love pushupsI’m always greeted with squeals of excitement in my gym when I ask clients to perform push-ups for 60 seconds straight – said me Never! And why? It’s not a mystery. I know first hand that doing consecutive push-ups in proper form is hard.

By proper form I mean in prone position (face down), on your toes, hands placed slightly wider than your shoulders, your back is in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles (no saggy center or pike butt), bending your arms and lowering your body until it’s just off the ground (chin and chest first, no forehead bobbing) and then pushing yourself back to the starting position while maintaining proper alignment. Yes, that one rep took two seconds, now keep going for another 58. No wonder I hear grunts and see blank stares.

I’m not in love with doing pushups myself, but I do love what they do for the body.

Everyone can do them because there are so many variations! If you feel you’re not strong enough to start on your toes, then start on your knees, use a bench or the wall, and if you have wrist issues you can use your knuckles.

Pushups require many muscles. The primary muscles used are in the upper body. Pushups use your pecs (chest area), deltoids (shoulders) and triceps (back of the arm). Once you reach the top of the exercise, your body must stabilize itself and calls on secondary muscles to do this. Your body engages the muscles of the core, neck, hips and legs to help your body maintain a balanced horizontal position. There is so much going on!

Benefits of pushups include strengthening, toning and building beautiful muscle in your chest, upper arms and shoulders. Who doesn’t like to look at (or show off) a well toned upper body? They also strengthen and help tone your core. I love the benefits you can see!  Perhaps more important though are the benefits you don’t think about or can’t see. Pushups will also strengthen your wrists, forearms, elbows, and like other weight-bearing exercises, they help reduce bone loss and promote stronger, more dense bones. Because they use a large number of muscles at the same time, your heart rate will increase adding a little cardio element to the mix. It’s all good!

You get so much bang for your buck with push-ups! They will love you even if you don’t love them back. Give them a try!

The Purpose of a Sweatshirt

You may already know that I love to do cardio and my favorite format is Turbo Kick. I am extremely motivated in a room full of fellow, high energy, Turbo lovers with the music blasting. It’s my favorite way to start the day and I get to a class whenever I can! On Saturday morning I hopped in my car and sang my way to the gym, anticipating the happy, sweaty mess I would be in an hour or so.

There are two scenarios that can put a wrench in my “perfect” cardio plan. The first is forgetting my water bottle. Although this is pretty inconvenient, it’s not a total spoiler as there are water fountains at the gym.  I’ve forgotten water a couple of times. The good news is that I remembered my water on Saturday.  In fact, I had two bottles with me. Yes, I was quite the example that morning.

The second scenario is forgetting my gym towel. This did happen on Saturday, and trust me, it will never happen again. Leaving your towel at home is absolutely the worst thing to do when you’re planning on having a sweat fest. And when I say sweat fest, I don’t mean a little dewy glow. I mean full on, totally drenched, drops flying, puddle underneath me, sweat shower. I apologize if this is too much information, but I don’t go to the gym to look cute. If you’re going to do anything at all, do it big! I move big, I sweat big. When I realized my most important  asset was missing, my heart sank. Shoot! I was already there. I had “my spot”. Now what?

Many things whirled through my head at this point. I know from wearing my UP band that an hour of Turbo is 7,000-8,000 steps for me, depending on my energy level and the pace of the class. This means about 3.5 – 4 miles of kicking, punching, lunging, squatting and jumping in my 3 x 3 square foot space in the group exercise room. At what mile marker does the sweat start pouring? And what do I do when it does?

Lucky for me it was a cool, misty August morning and I wore a light sweatshirt to the gym. Certainly it could work as a substitute towel, right? I thought I was saved and took a breath of relief as the music began. Turbo time!

As the warmup started I was still thinking about my sweatshirt. I’m not really sure why little cotton jackets with hoods and zippers are called sweatshirts in the first place. I certainly don’t wear one to sweat in, and if I do sweat with one on, I take it off. I later learned with my initial mopping of the brow that the sweatshirt I chose did a terrible job of absorbing sweat. And later, when I got a zipper in the eye, I decided maybe dripping dry was worth considering.

I feel bad about the drips I left on the gym floor as I raced to the car after class. I’m always very good about cleaning up after myself. Well, I guess I can’t say that anymore, but, hello, this was truly an emergency! There was a box of tissues in my glove compartment and I needed them right away.  Granted they were a messy way to dry off, with little bits breaking off and sticking to me, but they made a better towel than my sweatshirt did.

I learned a few things on Saturday morning. First, I think I sweat more when I’m worried about how much I’m going to sweat. Second, I need to leave extra towels in my gym bag, or the car, or both. And third, little cotton summer weight sweatshirts make terrible towels. They are designed for wearing and to make you feel cozy.

Hopefully this whole thing is a one-time experience. Hopefully it was something you could relate to, or made you chuckle or maybe even grossed you out a little. (Hey, I’ll take anything!)

My Happy Place

Everyone has a ‘happy place’. It might be the mall, the beach, the Starbucks on the corner, or a favorite restaurant, but mine is our garage! I transformed this space into a gym, but it’s not JUST a gym, it’s my Contempo Rockin’ Disco Gym.

Isn’t a Gym a Gym?

The answer is no. I love to work out. It’s my passion! But every gym isn’t my happy place. Every gym is just a place. My Contempo Rockin’ Disco Gym is a place too, but it’s also a state of mind.

My Contempo Rockin’ Disco Gym brings me a sense of peace, joy, exhilaration and euphoria that really can’t be explained or adequately described. It makes me feel strong, confident and invincible, even at 5 a.m. after I’ve just crawled out of bed. It does not judge, criticize or intimidate but leaves me feeling powerful, serene and tranquil all at the same time. How does it do that?

My happy place has been years in the making and has three main parts.

First, it’s the actual space.

Contempo Rockin' Disco Gym

Floor Space It’s not fancy. It’s a garage. But it feels happy and it fits its name. The walls are light blue with accents of red. The blue is calming and the red makes me feel bold and fierce. I’ve found you can be all of these at the same time IF you’re in your happy place.

ClockMy favorite decor is the red clock from IKEA. This one piece put the ‘Contempo’ part in the name. I think it’s cute and it makes me happy. Enough said.

My happy place is ‘Rockin’ because of the fun music which blairs from my iPod. I love 70’s, 80’s, all the way up to current tunes and even remixes. Pretty much anything that’s fast and motivating.

My happy place is ‘Disco’ because of the lights and disco ball.

And of course, the equipment makes it a ‘Gym’.

Second, it’s my continual love and desire to improve my workouts and myself as a knowledgeable trainer. This is where I create, and most importantly put into action, all the things I learn about new trends and exercises. How does it feel? How can I modify? How can I make it just a little bit tougher. It’s all in the way my tired and sweaty body feels when the workout is over, and I think, ‘Yeah, that felt good!”.

Third, and most importantly, it’s the people who I train in my happy place that make it even happier: the one on one time, the laughs and the groans, the ‘I can’t do that’ to the ‘Yes, I did that!’, the joy I feel when someone pushes out one extra rep than the time before, and the confidence they gain with each visit. There is no disappointment or failure in the Contempo Rockin’ Disco Gym. There is only comradery, growth and empowerment.

It’s true that my surroundings first initiated my happy place feeling, but what goes on in my mind and the way it makes me feel while I’m there is really what makes it special for me.  The mind is a powerful thing, and calling on the visual of my Contempo Rockin’ Disco Gym can transport me to my happy place whenever I need to go there!

Thanks for letting me share my happy place with you!

I would also like to thank to my husband, Wayne, who gave up his man space and allowed me to create something that is mine. And many thanks to everyone who visits me there. You make my life full of purpose. My happy place has many guests!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! And go visit YOUR happy place!