Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.

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Does your core measure up? Time to test, or retest!

Flying Baby Pose

This is Lucia. Lucia’s not at the point yet where she’s worried about growing a Muffin Top, but very soon she’ll be taking her first steps and given that she’s already working on a strong core, I see great athletic promise in her future.

In case you’ve forgotten, “core strength” refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine, keep your body stable and balanced. A strong core basically supports every physical movement you make. It’s the body’s center of power, the stronger you’re core, the easier your life will be. This means, riding your bike, running, picking up your kid, a watermelon, surviving that killer boot camp class or simply getting out of bed.

Wondering how your core measures up? I was, so I found a test for us to take. The senior athletics coach with the United Kingdom’s National Governing body for Track and Field developed it. It’s a good one! Give it a try it only takes 3 minutes. If you fail, there’ll be a link at the bottom of this post where you can find core strengthening exercises.

The Core Muscle Strength & Stability Test
The objective of this evaluation is to monitor the development and improvements of core strength.

To prepare for the assessment you will need:
Flat surface
Watch or clock with second counter

Conducting the Test
Position the watch or clock where you can easily see it

Start in the Plank Position (elbows on the ground)
Hold for 60 seconds

Lift your right arm off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Return you left leg and right arm to the ground

Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground
Hold for 15 seconds

Return to the Plank Position (elbows on the ground)
Hold this position for 30 seconds

Good Core Strength – If you can complete the test fully, you have good core strength.

Poor Core Strength – If you cannot complete the test fully, your core strength needs improvement. If you are unable to complete the test practice the routine three or four times each week until you improve. By comparing your results over time, you will note improvements or declines in core strength.

I hope you’ll try the test. It certainly couldn’t hurt to know where you stand. If you want to work on your core check out this site for a really comprehensive list of core exercises you can do anywhere.

Go get ‘em…

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Praise for my peeps

When you’re a kid in school you get a report card that tells you (and your parents) how you’re doing in class. Report cards are also good for the teacher because they tell us how well we’re getting through to our students. Remember, whether you’re a good student or a challenging one, it is the teachers’ job to insure that you succeed.

It’s the same with trainers. It’s our job to make sure that you reach your goal. It’s not so easy sometimes to motivate people and keep them on the track to success, but nun-the-less; it’s our duty and commitment to you when we take you on as clients. It’s too bad that trainers don’t give report cards, I wish we could. It might help with some folks, but then again it might piss some off.

Anyway, I’ve decided to give props to two of my clients today. This doesn’t mean that the rest of you don’t deserve props. It just means that these two get gold stars (remember those?).

First, Diana; Diana has been working out two days a week with me consistently for 10 months. As of last month Diana has lost 17 pounds, gained a ton of definition and ran her first 5K foot race in July. Diana’s race time was just over 24 minutes (an excellent time). My favorite part of all this is remembering that when Diana first came to me she refused to do more than about 10 crunches and after 5 minutes of running she’d stop, bend over and gasp to catch her breath. Now, Diana asks me to push her harder and actually asked me to bring out her nemesis, The Jump Rope. Diana has surpassed her weight loss goal and is motivated by her quick 5k time. With that, her new goal is to compete in the Warrior Dash Obstacle Race in a few weeks, something that has astounded her friends and family. According to Diana, “The best part of all this is that I now love to get dressed. Getting dressed is fun because everything fits, or is too big.”

Now, Nick; I met Nick years ago but he and I just started working together in June. Nick lives in The Napa Valley so we don’t see each other more than once a week at best. However, Nick and I chat almost daily about his training and the workouts I send him via email. Nick is about to run his first half marathon at the end of this month. Nick came to me for guidance because, years ago he registered to run a full marathon but never made it past the first few weeks of training do to an injury brought on by training too hard before his body was ready. Nick is a 45+ single father who works on his feet, around 5 star Napa food all day long. It’s a physically exhausting life that promotes poor eating, sleeping and fitness habits. Since June Nick has lost 24 pounds and is more than ready to run his half marathon. Nicks goal is to run the race in under 2 hours and I’m absolutely certain he can do that. When I asked Nick if he felt that his training had been hard to manage, he said, “Actually, it’s been pretty painless. All I have to do is focus on what you have me do and that’s simple.”

As I write this I can’t help but feel extremely proud. When I started this life as a trainer I never thought about how I would feel when my people reached their goals and did well. It never occurred to me. I was too concerned with what to do with them, how to get them to do what I said and most of all, how to keep them from getting injured. Watching Diana and Nick and GP-2011 and all the others that leave my workouts feeling great I feel truly blessed and thankful to be able to work with these people. People who were not so dedicated at first, and now look where they are…


What motivates you?

What motivated him to do this?

I’m motivated by fear. I sign up for tough fitness challenges because the fear of pain and failure motivates me to get off my ass and train. When I look in the mirror and see my hiney sliding down the backs of my legs, the fear of a pancake butt motivates me to do the dreaded step-ups (although it seems gravity moves faster than the rate at which I can do enough step-ups).

It’s pretty basic or me. It’s about my selfish, personal fears. Nothing more.

I need your help — Tell me what motivates you. Acceptance? Health/fitness? A smaller pant size? A person? An event? Use a fake name if you like but help a gal out. I need inspiration. If you can’t say what motivates you then tell me about something that inspires you.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.


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Weekend Warrior Challenge

I suggest you drink U'r wine after your run...

What’s the haps for the weekend? Here’s an idea, how about I give you a little challenge? It’s just a little something to get you started.

First, did you read my post on Watercress? It’s very stimulating, or at least informative. I suggest you check it out and toss together a delicious watercress feast over the weekend. Try it, you may like it.

Planning to get some exercise this weekend? If you are, good for you! If you aren’t, shame on you! Either way, I suggest that you spice things up by adding this little cardio interval circuit to your plans.

Here’s how it works:

Warm up with a jog, walk and light stretches 10 minutes.
30 seconds cardio (any form you like)
60 seconds rest (yep, rest, stand or walk around just breathe!)
Repeat this sequence for 45 minutes.
Cool down with 5 minutes of stretching.

Voila! You just burned off four glasses or wine, or roughly 400 calories. I bet you feel good too!

Not sure what I mean by “cardio?” Here are some ideas for your 30-second bouts. Choose one or mix it up.

Jog up stairs
Jump rope
Run/Run in place w/high knees
Ride a stationary bike briskly
Step Up (rapidly done)
Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Burpees or Jump Squats

Give it a try! It’s only 30 seconds of “hard,” then you get to rest for twice that. How bad can it be? I did this workout today and I’m still alive to write about it. Let me know what you think, good or bad! Same goes for the watercress! Speak up people!

Happy weekend!

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Ultra insanity

Did you hear about the woman who attempted to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida this week? Her name is Diana Nyada, she’s 61. The swim was expected to take about 60 hours but she was pulled from the water after 29. It’s too bad she didn’t reach her goal but they said, “Her will was stronger than her body.” Can you imagine? Regardless, you must respect the massive effort and acknowledge her success, short of her goal or not.

Last weekend Penny and I went for a trail run in The Marin Headlands. As we trundled off I noticed that there was an organized race going on. When we crested the summit of our first climb I spied a fellow staggering toward me. It was his race number that gave away the fact that he was participating in the event. Normally I would never bother someone during a race but this chap looked like he could use some love so I asked him how far he was racing. He said “100 miles.” After gasping I asked, how far along are you? “Mile 98”  (although he was wrong, I knew the finish was at least 5 miles away. I kept my mouth shut though). Thank God he was almost done, he looked like he was about to fall on his face. Poor thing!

A few seconds later a couple more 100-mile racers trotted toward us. They were behind the other fellow, but seemed like they were having a better time of it. At that point Penny said something to me that I can’t completely remember but it was to the effect of “don’t you feel insignificant?” She was referring to the fact that they were “running” 100 miles and the most we’ve ever managed is 13, plus a few yards. For a second I kind of did feel small.  I had only panted my way through 3 miles of a 6-mile run and those folks had been running since 7:30 am Saturday morning (it was now 9am Sunday morning, they’d been running for over 25 hours sans sleep, and had at least an hour still to go).

It only took me a split second to snap out of feeling insignificant, I thought to myself: NO, I don’t feel lesser than those folks, those people are nuts! Why would you run for that long? Or, why would you face shark-invested water and insane current like Diana Nayda did for days? I’d be so bored doing the same thing for that long that I could never invest in the physical part. I did feel bad for not understanding.

My solace came as I realized that most likely not one of those 100 mile racers or The Swimmer Lady would think that racing a bike in a pack of 60 at high-speed around tight corners or riding as fast you can up the side of a mountain is at all sane. They have their way and I have mine. That’s what makes the world go around and it seems to work pretty well in most respects.

With that I say: A very impressive job to all of you Ultra Endurance Athletes, I admire your patience and drive. To those of us who dance to a different beat, let us also celebrate our efforts. We’re all different and one of us is not better than the other, just different.


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Turkish Getups

Want an exercise that will work your entire body? Here it is, watch the video.

If you don’t have a weight, use a soup can or filled water bottle. Remember to keep your arm up in the air and your eyes looking up at your hand.

Do 10 – 15 reps each arm or the best you can and work up to 10-15, you may skip the weight if you absolutely have to. Add this exercise to your fitness routine once a week. It will improve your all around strength, balance and coordination.

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Start with 10

I burned off 25 cookies today!

I first started exercising many years ago to lose weight. At the time I didn’t need to lose weight, but like most young women I thought I did. Because of my lack of sense, I ran 6-10 miles a day and lived on diet soda, apples and nuts. This system made sense to me at the time although I could never figure out why I kept getting fatter and fatter and eventually became so exhausted that I completely passed out one day.  After that little fright, it still took about 20 years for me to realize that one must eat to keep their metabolism going and legs moving. Geez…what a dunce I was!

Now, some 30 years later I eat plenty. Too much sometimes, but fortunately for me my metabolism now runs pretty high. I’m especially lucky being that I’m an “older gal,” at an age when typically ones metabolism slows way down. Mine however runs relatively high because I’ve learned not only to exercise, but also to feed my body keeping my furnace/metabolism running hot.

I exercise basically every day. Some days I workout hard, and some days I just walk and/or do an easy yoga/stretch class. The bottom line is, I move around quite a bit and have done so for years. Because of that, I’m still reaping benefits from exercise sessions I did years ago in the form of a much appreciated, fired up metabolism.

The oddest component to keeping a healthy metabolism is eating. If you don’t eat enough your body thinks you’re trying to kill it. It imagines that you’re starving it to death, and when you exercise on top of not eating, that just accelerates the body’s reaction. Think about it. Your body doesn’t want to die. It goes to great lengths to rebuild itself and heal when you hurt it, right? So it makes sense that it would freak out when you starve it. It responds by shutting down and holding onto the little food that you do give it and stores it as fat for later use. Basically it slows down your metabolism to keep from burning too much fuel. When you feed your body it burns hotter as long as you move it, giving it a reason to burn.

On that note, I once again ask you to make an effort to exercise. The more you exercise the more you get to eat. Think of that. My suggestion for today is to make an Exercise Box. Take a shoebox and place at least 5 short, 10-minute workouts in the box. Every morning after you’ve had your coffee, but your hand in the box, pull out a workout and perform the exercise noted.

10 minutes, that’s all it takes to feel better, jump-start your metabolism and might even encourage you to work out a little longer. If 10 minutes is all you can muster for the day, than fine, but it’s my hope that as time goes on, you’ll add more to your daily workout routine. Whether it’s working out for a longer duration or doing 2 or 3 of these short workouts a day.

Here are some ideas for your Exercise Box

  • Do 30 jumping jacks/15-30 bench dips/ 10 push ups (any style you choose) repeat the sequence for 10 plus minutes.
  • Walk ¼ way around the block/skip ¼ way around the block/jog ¼ way around/side shuffle both directions (face left/right) ¼ way. Repeat for 10 plus minutes.
  • High knees (like running in place, bringing your knees toward your chest/pump your arms) count to 30. 20 squats/20 lunges/10 burpees. Repeat for 10 plus minutes.
  • Run around the block/stop and do 20 squats/run around again/stop and do 20 mountain climbers. Repeat for 10 plus minutes
  • Do 20 jumping jacks/25 crunches/25 bicycle crunches/25 leg raises (lay on back bend legs at waist and bring them straight up/don’t rock/this is a small movement) finish with plank position for 60 seconds. Rest for a few seconds and repeat plank pose if you have time left. Do plank for up to 3 efforts.

Make a commitment to yourself, complete at least 10 minutes of exercise regardless of how tired or busy you may feel, five days a week. If you have kids, get them to join you. It’s only 10 minutes, how bad can it be?

If you need more suggestions, ask…

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It’s Summer, are ya lookin’ swank in your swimsuit?

Couch Potato

Hey now, it’s Workout Wednesday. How’s your fitness routine going? Are you working out consistently? Three, five times a week for 45 minutes? How about an hour plus? I know you have gym memberships and classes that you want to attend, are you going?

When I started this business it was my hope to offer a comfortable, fun, fresh air environment where all of us, non Lululemon clad, “look at me” Hot Bodies could converge and feel comfortable. A place where you don’t have to already be “fit” to get a good work out, a place to start, or simply work out sans the attitude and the judgment.

Unfortunately I’m having a hard time motivating these sorts of folks. Some have come around but where’s everyone else?  I know you’re out there. I see you and I thought I understood. Now I’m thinking that maybe people don’t really want a place like I’m offering. With a place like this, there’s no excuse not to exercise. Sure, it’s hard to find the time but I don’t buy that. I’m wondering if maybe I should cater to those Hot Body types after all, they seem to want to work out, hence their Hot Bodies. Better yet, maybe I should cater to Hot Body 40 Something Men specifically. Hummmm…. now that’s a though!

While I work on my new approach for generating clients and readers, I offer you an exercise sequence that should work for everyone. You don’t even need to leave the couch.

The Couch Potato Work Out — Do these exercises at every commercial break. Do 20 reps of each exercise; repeat at every break for an hour.

  • Push ups – Facing the couch, kneel on the floor about 2 feet away from it. Cross your ankles, and place your hands shoulder-width apart on a cushion edge. Slowly bend your arms, and lower your upper body until your chest touches the couch. Hold, press up again. Repeat
  • Side Crunches – Lie on the couch on your left side with your legs together and your knees bent. Place your right hand behind your head with your elbow pointing toward the ceiling. Wrap your left arm across your waist. Contracting the oblique muscles along your right side, lift your shoulder off the couch, bringing your rib cage toward your hip. Hold, slowly lower. Repeat, switch sides. (If your couch is too soft, you may need to do this exercise on the floor.)
  • Triceps Dips – Sitting on the edge of the couch, place your hands on the edge on either side of you. Move your feet out so that your butt is off the seat, and your knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Bending your elbows so they point behind you, lower yourself as far as comfortable. Hold, slowly press up again.
  • Scissors – Lie on your back on a couch (you may need to angle yourself for more room) with your hands (palms down) under your butt and your legs straight up in the air. Keeping your knees slightly bent and your feet flexed, slowly spread your legs as far apart as comfortable. Hold, then slowly bring your legs together, resisting as you press them in.

As always your comments are welcome.  Bring ‘em on!

Kiss, kiss…

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If you exercise, most likely you’ve experienced physical pain. They say that 42% of exercisers hurt themselves every year. As I read about pain and injury, I realize that there are many kinds of pain as it relates to exercising. I can’t be sure, but I believe the 42% refers to the percentage of people who actually damage their bodies during exercise, not those who simply experience a few hard workouts and feel “pain.”

I can’t tell you how to heal yourself or diagnose your injuries. I’m not qualified to do that, although I am extremely familiar with the concept of inflicting damage to ones body as a result of exercise. I am going to share a few bits of wisdom that I have accrued over the years. Maybe they can help you; they pretty much keep me alive.

  • Feeling pain? The first thing you need to do is to figure out if you have an actual injury, or just the pain that results from a hard workout. Pain that comes on gradually over the course of the workout is most likely just the lactic acid and carbon monoxide that builds up during exercise. A sharp, sudden or constant pain is the kind of pain that requires rest and possibly the attention of a professional.
  • If you’re healing from an injury or simply a hard workout you should not stop exercising. Activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to help mend your body as well as boosts your spirits.  All you need to do is find something that doesn’t aggravate your injury. Try something new.
  • RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Generally speaking, if you feel you have an injury to a muscle, ligament, tendon or bone the basic treatment is to begin RICE’ing immediately.  Example: I tore my Achilles recently, the first thing I did (after I dragged my poor wounded carcass home) was to put on my magic compression socks, lay on the floor, put my leg up on the couch resting on a big fat bag of ice. That ladies and gents, is RICE.
  • My favorite part of healing is the mental part. If you focus on your pain and the doom you feel, your pain will seem more intense and last longer simply because you’re focusing on it. When you focus on pain you stress yourself out which in turn puts stress on the body and keeps it from healing. It’s a nasty downward spiral, you feel bad so you fret about it making things worse. All you can do is acknowledge that you’re wounded, come up with mending plan and go with it. Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot. That, is your only option.
  • Most of all, respect your body. It’s very good to you. When it’s wounded be kind and let it heal, don’t stress it in any way, let it relax and know that you love it and it will respond by healing and helping you to become even stronger than ever.

Trust me on this…

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Walk up Wednesday

Walking is one of the quickest ways to blast up to 25% more calories and exercising outside is said to earn you up to 30%. So, ditch the treadmill get some fresh air.

My workout suggestion for today is to go for a power walk around your neighborhood. I’ve got some things for you to do so you don’t get bored and zap even more calories.

Here you go:

Warm up — Swing your arms around, front to back and across your body like you’re a crazy person hugging yourself. Circle your ankles 20 times each direction. Do a few jumping jacks, 25 should do it. This should take about 3 minutes.

The Meat of it — Start by walking at a quick, but comfortable pace that you can hold. (Keep a forward leaning position, it should feel like you have to take a step to keep from falling forward. Abs tight.) Keep walking, when you see a hill or set of public stairs, take the challenge and head up, even if it means you have to change your course. Hold your quick pace! You should be huffing and puffing your way to the top of each hill or set of stairs. If you can hold a conversation, you aren’t working hard enough.  Continue on your walk taking every hill or set of stairs you come upon. Use the down hill portions and flat areas as recovery, to catch your breath but keep a relatively quick pace. For bonus points add some triceps dips, bench push ups and or ab work at the top of each challenge. Just keep thinking of all those M&M’s you are burning off!

An hour of this and you could easily zap 500 calories!

P.s. Adding 3,600 steps to your day can help you lose 15 pounds a year! 3,600 steps equal about 1.5 miles. If you do the workout above correctly you will have covered about 4 miles!

P.s.s. Watch the above video at your own risk, it might make you a little dizzy. I know it’s silly but I think it’s funny.