Tag Archives: Physical exercise

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!

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Proper Plank – New Tips

I originally posted this blog called ‘Proper Plank’ one year ago. I’m always learning new tips on better ways to do things and I found a more effective way to do this amazing core exercise. This one trick will totally engage your core like never before. Face it, if you can hold plank for more than a minute, or two or three,  you really should be challenging yourself in new ways to make it harder and get the most out of it. Below is my original post, and my new tips appear at the end in bold (Points 6 and 7).

I’ve recently seen plank challenges all over social media. Plank is my favorite total body, core strengthening exercise. It’s challenging for everyone, from beginner to the super fit, especially with advanced variations.

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To the beginner, plank may look like merely balancing on your forearms and your feet for as long as you can, but it’s so much more than that. It’s pretty difficult to tell everything that’s going on by looking at a picture. You can get so much more benefit out of the exercise by having proper body position, alignment and by engaging the proper muscles in your body.

Here I’m reviewing forearm plank position.

1) Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your weight should be on your elbow area, not on your forearms or wrists caused by a forward lean. Your hands can be in whatever position that is comfortable. I see many people grasp their hands in the middle, which is a little easier. I like to go the more challenging route and point my forearms straight ahead with palms facing up. Try both ways and you’ll feel the difference. Making fists, like the picture above, it also an option.

2) Your spine should be elongated and in a straight line from your head to your feet.

3) To keep your spine in alignment you have to contract your core muscles and your glutes. This will ensure your spine doesn’t sag in the middle. If you’re sagging, your’e not engaging.

4) Instead of just balancing on the balls of your feet, drive your heels back. This will also help keep you in alignment and engage your quads.

5) Your feet can be together or hip width apart. Again, it’s what’s comfortable for you.

6) Once your quads and glutes are totally engaged, create a tension between your elbows and your feet by driving your elbows back towards your feet (without moving them) and your toes forward towards your elbows (without moving them either). If you create this tension correctly you will feel a definite contraction through your core. Keep this contraction as tight as possible. If you must release it, go down out of plank, rest as needed and then go back in the same position. This one tweak will give you more bang for your buck. 

The stronger you get in your abs, back, shoulders, chest, quads, glutes and calves, the longer you will be able to hold the plank position. Yes, it uses all of these muscles. That’s why it’s so great! Added benefits are it helps your lower back become more resilient to injury and it will tone and tighten your abs.

7) If you master the tips in step 6 and are looking for an increased challenge, place your elbows an inch or so above your shoulder line (rather than directly underneath your shoulders as suggested above). This will create a longer lever and make the work more difficult. Additional advanced options include elevating a hand or foot and holding.

Try these tips and feel the difference!

Happy Planking!

 

Great Deals on the the UP24!

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New activity tracking devices are always coming out and I’m addicted to trying them! I own the Nike FuelBand, 2 different Fitbits (the Zip and the Flex wristband), and the the Jawbone UP band.

The UP is my favorite to date and I’ve been wearing it for 2 years now. I currently have the UP24 which is the wireless version, and is super easy to use. Because Jawbone is on the verge of launching their newest band, the UP 3, you can get an incredible deal on the UP24 right now! If you want to try it, now is the time! (The UP 3 is said to retail for $180 when it comes out. It has more bells and whistles, but why not try the UP24 at a reduced price to see if you like it?)

The best deal I’ve found is the Living Social Offer for $52.99. The catch is that you have to get the blue one, but the retail on this band is $129.99, so this is an incredible deal! There is limited time remaining so check it out now! Here is the link.

https://www.livingsocial.com/products/us/114846?ref=share-pre_purchase-email-web-shop&rui=31073905

Target also has a temporary price cut on the band. At $79.99 you can choose your color! I’m not sure how long this price will last.  If you come upon this page after these offers have expired, try googling UP24 best price and see what comes up!

http://www.target.com/p/up-by-jawbone-fitness-wristband-assorted-colors/-/A-14584711?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=google_pla_df&LNM=14584711&CPNG=Electronics&kpid=14584711&LID=10pgs&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=14584711&kpid=14584711&gclid=Cj0KEQiAiamlBRCgj83PiYm6–gBEiQArnojD5ifa_jNNbcPO2UMDHppXVU9SiY2lUMIScSa68qpjgAaAnbM8P8HAQ

Stuccu.com also has an array of UP24 bands at reduced prices. But be careful here because this site also sells used bands. I wouldn’t recommend buying a used one.

http://stuccu.com/s/Jawbone+up+24-MbSLsTI-Buy-Exclusive-Deals-70-OFF-Save-Big-Lowest-Price-On-Jawbone-up-24-Best-In-Stock-Fast-Free-Shipping?mt=b&keyword=%2Bjawbone%20%2Bup%20%2B24&ap=1t2&cid=55598410221&caid=535c883cb1b1c6b414f82286&netid=1&network=g&aaid=546307c3b1b1c61e78096b55&gclid=Cj0KEQiArK6lBRC5-_jv48uxgrgBEiQAuxdZ9XGA4_92IfFlmReaNAq51uc9QJM1Ja5UpDzRBW3tZmQaAo9S8P8HAQ

So why should you get one?

It’s January and the majority of the population has made resolutions and set new goals. We want to improve our lives, eat better, move more and get healthier. The best way to do this is to track your activity to get the big picture of your patterns.

The UP app tracks and stores all of your information and you can access it at anytime. It will suggest better bedtimes and new step goals for you once it collects enough data. You can log workouts, your food and recapture your sleep data if you forget to set your band to night mode. You can also link it to some of your favorite apps like MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness and many more.

One of the highlights for me is having a ‘Team’ on my UP app. You can connect with your friends and family on the app if they also have the band. It’s a great way to encourage one another.

I have an iPhone and this is how the app appears.

The UP24 tracks your steps each day, your active and idle time and estimates calories burned:

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You can log your workouts each day. Below is a cardio class I took. You can also enter cross training, weight training, yoga, pilates, cycle, Zumba… there are a lot of choices. The app will estimate calories burned during your workout based on the intensity level that you set. 

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You can keep track of your sleeping patterns…good or not so good. This was a couple of nights ago for me. I get up at 4:15 am to teach boot camp. Based on this, I should probably go to bed a little earlier. The dark blue is deep sleep and the light blue is light sleep. The orange shows waking up/getting up. Sometimes if you are awake and lying very still it will show as light sleep. This happens a lot and is really my biggest complaint about the band. 

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After my crummy night’s sleep I needed a cat nap. You can log naps and the app will add it to your total sleep for the day. 

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And at any point throughout the day you can check your sleep/activity stats.

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I’m a trainer and I love this band. It motivates me to be more active and helps me to be more conscious of my activity.

I love the weekly summary I receive. It shows how I did on my goals compared to the previous week.

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And breaks down my step and sleep activity by day.

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The UP24 is not without its problems. I’ve had battery issues and have actually had several bands over the last 2 years. The Jawbone customer service is excellent though and has always replaced my band with little to no hassle. The worst case scenario is that you go without your band for a week until a new one arrives.

The UP24 is a great way to make your year a little healthier.

Check out the great deals available right now!

Happy New Year!

The Chihuahua Effect

Fitness is important in our house. I’ve written in previous blogs how my husband and I both wear the UP Band by Jawbone to track our daily activity. Since then I have added four more people to my team on the UP app and we’re all ‘competing’ to be the most active.  (No one will say it, but we all secretly want to beat everyone else).

The UP app gives you a base goal of 10,000 steps to reach each day. It’s really not that easy, especially if you’re not into cardio. A gut busting boot camp or weight session barely makes a dent in your daily step goal. Doing 100 push-ups is pretty impressive but since it doesn’t give you any steps, it doesn’t help in your daily feat to win the step game.

The people on my team who run, hike or take daily walks are the ones who are the lead steppers. I do cardio about four days a week and these are the days that I easily reach anywhere from 12,000 to 17,000 steps by the end of the day. I have an advantage over most of my teammates when it comes to topping the stepper chart on my cardio days.  I call it the ‘chihuahua effect’.

chihuahua-and-big-dogPhoto credit: http://www.chihuahuawardrobe.com/is-it-safe-to-raise-a-chihuahua-around-larger-dogs/

I’m 5 feet tall and my husband stands at 5’6″.  When we go on a weekend hike, we travel the same distance, but time after time I end up with significantly more steps than he does.

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This doesn’t go over very well with him most of the time. I really can’t blame him! He traveled just as far. He worked just as hard.

After each hike he will ask me how many steps I took and as he’s groaning I will say (with much pleasure), “It’s the chihuahua effect”. Simply: He has longer legs. He has a longer stride. I have to take more steps to keep up. We figured that I take about one and one-quarter to one and one-half steps for every one of his. This adds up over time.

Below, my stats are on the left, and my husband’s are on the right. (Somehow it shows he traveled farther than I did. This happens a lot when we use RunKeeper).

My stats His stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the course of continuous activity for an hour the UP band calculated I took about 600 more steps than he did. So what does this mean over the course of an entire day?

Well, it’s hard to say exactly because we didn’t walk everywhere together. However we did take pretty similar paths. At the end of the day I ultimately took about 1,200 more steps than he did. (Again, I’m on the left).

His final stats My final stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does all this mean exactly?

Well, not much really.

For me it’s one reason to be thankful for my very short legs. Is this fair to all my tall teammates?  Sure!

Ladder Up! The Perks of Agility Training

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I include agility training in many of my boot camp classes and with my personal clients as well. They think it’s fun and a nice change to get their cardio in. However, I always have a reason for the way I conduct their training. It’s not just fun, but it serves a purpose as well!

“A new study from the Air Force Research Laboratory shows that agility training can improve your cognitive performance.”

“Military personnel were divided into two groups for six weeks of training. The first group participated in the military’s standard physical training (jogging with calisthenics like jumping jacks and burpees), while the second group underwent agility training (ladder drills and shuttle runs). After six weeks, the first group increased their endurance. On the other hand, the group performing agility training improved their VO2 max, athletic footwork, memory, and concentration.”

I believe in working multiple muscle groups at the same time. Technically your brain isn’t a muscle, but why not train it as one?

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Photo credit: http://www.writingriffs.com/2014/01/dr-rickhanson/

““Agility training incorporates components of learning, focus, balance, and coordination,” says study coauthor Erica M. Johnson, Ph.D. This type of training can stimulate richer connections among multiple brain regions by demanding them to work together, she says.”

Also, they help quicken your reaction time and who doesn’t need that? They are a great addition to a functional training program.

So what exactly is this agility training I’m referring to? I found a YouTube link with an excellent visual and narrated description of 13 different agility drills. These drills are widely used in sports training, but are beneficial for everyone! It’s listed at the end of this post.

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Agility training is a great way to spice up your workouts.

 

 

 

Check it out and give them a try!

 

http://www.kingsportstraining.com/blogs/training-blog/7694405-13-speed-and-agility-ladder-drills-videos-for-faster-footwork

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Source

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/workout-helps-you-think-fast?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Fitness-_-LadderDrills

Understanding Protein

If you’re confused about how much protein you need per day, you’re not alone. There’s not a cut-and-dried answer. Everyone has a different “need” depending on gender, weight, activity level and goals.

I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to answer this question for myself. There is a lot of information out there. Here is the lowdown on what I found.

What is the RDA for protein:

The purpose of the RDA guidelines is to inform you how much of a specific nutrient your body needs on a daily basis to function properly. So basically, depending on your weight and activity level, the RDA for protein can be viewed as the minimum requirement to keep you healthy.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein for men is 56 grams per day and 46 grams per day for women.

Chances are you may need more. But how much more and why?

What is Protein?

Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up roughly 20 percent of your total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. Also, protein plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in your body.  Although your body is good at “recycling” protein, you use it up constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids. Your body can produce some of these amino acids, but others must be consumed through the diet. Animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) and many plant foods are good sources.

Follow this link to see what’s included in the protein food group:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html#

Protein and Weight Loss

When you want to gain muscle and lose fat, eating the right amount of protein is key. Protein and the amino acids that make it up are required for two main reasons.

1) To construct muscle – they are the building blocks

2)  They act as a switch to ‘signal’ that it’s time to start up the “muscle building machinery”.

Leucine is probably the most important amino acid that stimulates this “switch” and is highly present in protein rich food.

Because protein is required to build muscle AND to signal the body to start this process, it’s important to spread out protein consumption evenly throughout the day.

How Much Do You Need?

“When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, research consistently shows that doubling the RDA spaced out throughout the day is the path you want to take to get the best results the fastest”. (BJ Gaddour, “Men’s Health, Your Body is Your Barbell”). This seems like a good rule of thumb in general. Let’s see what other people say.

Nutritionists use a standard to estimate your minimum daily protein requirement.

Multiply the body weight in pounds by .37.

Using this formula, a 150 lb. man would require a minimum of 55 grams of protein per day. This falls right in with the RDA.  And if you’re very active and exercise frequently, professionals agree you can nearly double this requirement. Be advised, though, if you’re shooting for a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or more, you’re probably overdoing it. The extra protein will not necessarily benefit you. Also, that’s a lot for the body to process and the extra calories will most likely end up as fat.

To look at it another way, it is recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. This is a rather large range and where you fall in it also depends on your weight and activity level. For a  diet of 1800 calories per day, this means anywhere from a minimum of 45 grams of protein to over 150 grams of protein per day. That 35% is a pretty high number and may be overdoing it for a lot of people. In my diet, I lean towards around 20% protein.

So you see, there are various rules of thumb to figure out the ideal protein for you.

Tracking the Protein Grams you Eat

Many foods contain protein, but at the end of the day, how do you know how much you’ve consumed?

Here is an easy rule of thumb:

Remember the numbers 1, 5, 10, 15, 25 to roughly estimate protein intake.

That’s:

  • 1 gram of protein for every serving of fruit and vegetables
  • 5 for every egg or handful of nuts you eat
  • 10 for every cup of milk or yogurt
  • 15 for every cup of beans or half-cup of cottage cheese
  • 25 for every 3-4 ounce serving of meat

Protein and Exercise Recovery

After a workout your body switches immediately from performance mode to recovery mode. It’s important to rebuild broken down muscle so you can come back stronger in your next training session. It is a great idea to refuel with protein right after your workout. Try a protein shake. Whey is a rapidly digested protein source loaded with leucine that will help maximize muscle recovery and growth.

Nutrient Timing: Exercise Recovery and Carbs

I found an extra helpful tidbit in my research about muscle recovery and carbs.

Nutrient timing is the concept that certain foods benefit your body more at specific times of the day than at others. After exercise, your muscles want to restock their supply of carbohydrates in the form of  glycogen. This is the time that your muscles are primed to take in the carbs you eat. In fact, after exercise is one of the few times carbs are preferentially transported to your muscles and away from your fat cells.

It’s a great idea to plan your starchiest meal of the day within 2 hours of your training. This could be breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on when you workout.

Your other meals of the day should consist of protein and nutrient dense carbs and vegetables.

A Few Last Words…

I hope this helps answer some questions you have about protein or got you thinking more about nutrition. As a trainer I am all about the workout but honestly, 75 – 80% of the weight loss equation concerns what you put in your mouth.

Wishing you much success!

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http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-guide-maximum-muscle#sthash.cEiKJ5O5.dpuf

http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=807

 

 

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.