Why Ladies Need To Pump Iron Too ;)

Why Ladies Need To Pump Iron Too ;)

I’m sure you’ve heard myths about how lifting weights can make women look/feel:”bulky”/”like a guy”/”unattractive.” I’ve heard that too…especially being a personal trainer. I primarily train female clients and that is one of the first things they tell me when talking about goals. “I want to look toned, but not bulky” or “I don’t want to lift heavy.” Every time I share the same answer: it isn’t possible because us women do not have the levels of testestorone males do. All of the sudden, they feel relieved and are ready to start lifting! (almost). Besides the myths, lifting weights is more then just great for our appearance. Below are reasons and benefits why you need to add strength training to  your routine:

  • Prevents osteoporosis–weakening of bones as women grow older that become brittle and fragile with age. This usually includes increased chance of falling and decreased bone density.
  • Increased muscle = lower percentage of fat–Cardio as we know helps burn fat, but muscle gains contributes to muscle growth which keeps fat in check. Muscle weighs more then fat and helps build a lean and toned look creating curves 😉
  • Metabolism jumps–muscle takes more energy to use and even at rest burns more calories then a heavy cardio session resulting in an increased calorie burn!
  • Lower numbers in blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol–we all wanna keep these numbers in check with cardio, but in the long run the added muscle gains helps keep these numbers lower for longer then just cardio alone.

Strength training doesn’t always include weights. Strength training can be anything that incorporates resisting gravity in one form or another. “Resisting” can your own body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, sandbags, etc. The point is that your lifting something! Weights offer the best benefit (in my opinion) since you can challenge yourself with different amounts of heaviness! However, if weights seems intimidating to you (or just the thought around being a bunch of meatheads in the free weight area…you know where I’m going with this *insert rolling eye emoji*), feel free to use your own bodyweight to start off. Bodyweight strength training routines are awesome and require no equipment or gym! Don’t let bodyweight be the only form of strength training you get though, moving up from bodyweight to resistance bands or taking a group strength-based class can help immensely! Check out a couple bodyweight workouts to start off with here and here. Feel free to ask your local gym if you can get an overview of how to lift safely or think about getting a personal trainer 😉

Getting into a strength training routine of twice a week at minimum is all it takes to see a difference.  Start with two days a week and work up to three. Switch up your routine from a HIIT style/30 min workout, to a class, to muscle focused type workout (upper body/lower body or a push/pull) to keep it fresh. Don’t let yourself get bored! Keep switching the stimulus so your body doesn’t always adapt and plateau. Keep yourself on your toes while consistently challenging yourself. Check out the “workout” tab to see various routines to help switch it up!!

YOUR TURN:

-#THROWBACK! When was the last time you strength trained and what did you do, where were you, anyone join in, feelings or thoughts or your first time training? Have you gone 360 and changed it entirely or you’re still figuring out what you like? I wanna hear! We all start somewhere.

-Top three artists/music for a strength training workout…GO!

Forty Minute Push/Pull Strength Workout

Forty Minute Push/Pull Strength Workout

 If group fitness isn’t your thing but working out alone is (or in a small group), this workout is perfect for you! I especially love how its about forty minutes and a total body routine. The only difference with this one compared to other workouts I’ve posted, is that it requires weights. Bodyweight is great, in fact I use it primarily with my bootcamp classes, but weights are a great addition too! Have no fear–added resistance makes it challenging, ups calorie burn, and gets your heart rate pumping fast. And LADIES–this will not make you bulky–it is physically not possible. Ya girl wrote this workout remember? 😉 You don’t need a fancy set of weights or be in a gym for that matter either. Bonus points if you own your own set! I recommend you pick a weight about five to eight pounds or having a heavy set either of tens or fifteens. Pick weights that fit your ability but are still moderately challenging. I like to say that the last few reps (~3) of a set are challenging/fatiguing but do-able. This workout is a push/pull concept which means that each set is grouped by movement, i.e pulls would be rows, bicep curls etc. and push would be chest press, squats etc. You can be as creative as you want! Just think about the movement and build on that. Don’t forget about the warm-up, cool-down, and core! Grab your weights and get ready to get sweaty 😉

Push/Pull Strength Workout

Perform each exercise for a minute each, back to back with minimal rest in between three times total. Rest 1 min after fully completing each round.

Round 1: 3x through

-Chest press (1 min) *push*

-Single arm row  (30 sec each side) *pull*

-Jump Squat with weights (1 min) *push*

-Upright row (1 min) *pull*

~rest 1 min after each round~

Round 2: 3x through

-Butterfly arms (goal post arms, bringing elbows together in front of chest) 1 min *push*

-Bicep curl (1 min) *pull*

-Single or double leg glute bridge (30 sec each leg/ 1 min both legs) *push*

-Deadlift (1 min) *pull*

~rest 1 min after each round~

Round 3: Abs 3x through

-Leg lifts (1 min) use without weights *pull*

-Russian twists (1 min) *pull*

-Single/double leg v-ups (30 sec each leg) 1 min*push*

-Crunches (bonus if on exercise ball!) 1 min *push*

~rest 1 min after each round~

YOUR TURN:

-What are your go-to strength workouts?

-How do you beat burn-out with your strength training workouts?

 

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

I wrote about my race day experience last week, now I’m writing part two of my journey about my training. Aside from it being an overall positive and successful race, there was way more then just “running all the time” to get me to the finish. Any runner who has done any kind of race, knows its more then that. This training was unlike any kind of training I’ve ever done. Besides just running longer and farther, each run, workout, meal, rest day, etc impacted my training in some way. They said marathon training is a beast in itself, and it is completely true! Don’t be discouraged though, if you getting an itch to do it, that means one thing: SIGN UP! I’ll be honest though, it was a very grueling three months and am thankful I can relax for a little from the training. I would say if you are seriously considering signing up for one, take a couple factors into consideration:

  • Type of work schedule:
    • Early mornings or late nights
    • Full-time vs. part time
    • A new parent or stay at home mom
    • Student in school
    • Traveling
  • Time of year of the race and training (e.g. marathon during the fall months requires summer time training)
  • Finances/budget–because marathons ain’t cheap
  • Type of race you’re interested in running (big city, rural, themed, destination, cause)

 

IMG_0212
Found my name!

REAL TALK: I mention these factors because training for a marathon is commitment. You don’t wanna run a race with high expectations then realize you picked a bad time to train based on whether you’re in school or have a crazy work schedule. This was a big factor in my training because I had the availability to train for one. I was not in school during my training which my a BIG difference in my commitment and availability to focus on my training and in some aspects, performance. Not to say if you are in school or have a busy/crazy schedule you can’t do one, just know it may take more advanced planning and/or a stronger level of commitment compared to someone who is more flexible. I purposely planned to do one once I graduated. I felt ready to make a commitment and knew my schedule allowed for it. To be honest, I would hesitate doing another once I start graduate school because of the need to focus on studying instead of the commitment to train. *this idea is subject to change* 😉

Back to the training! As mentioned in the race day post, I ran about four times a week. I combined running with twice a week strength training days, typically a push/pull day or an leg day and upper body day. Each strength day would take me about an hour and a half to complete since I like to take my time. On days that I was pressed for time, I did HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and targeted total body in about thirty minutes with minimal rest. During the middle of my training, as a way to double up, I would run in the morning and do a strength day in the afternoon. Working on tired legs post run was tough but a good challenge since it mirrored what my legs could typically feel during the race. I did about three to four targeted exercises based on what I was doing that day plus two exercises for my core. I would finish with cross training on the bike or if I didn’t run the morning before, I would do a high intensity speed session of thirty minutes on the ‘mill before stretching and cooling down.

IMG_3646-1
Where accountability and motivation starts for the week ahead!

Aside from strength training days, I incorporated Peerfit for my cross training or anytime I wanted to change up my routine. Peerfit is a company creating a versatile, multi-location subscription used at various boutique fitness studios around Tampa Bay, Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Jacksonville. See my post on working with Peerfit and experiences I had with them here. I was able to cross train using them at a variety of places through Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation, Soho Cycling Studio, and Mantra Tampa. The days of cross training helped keep my cardio fitness up and strengthing weaker muscles while giving my body a break from the running. I really enjoyed cycling, especially since I don’t consider myself a “cycler”–in fact, I wasn’t into it because I thought it was boring. Soho Cycling changed the game on that one! Mantra Tampa is a pure strength training workout using a Megaformer.  It was all about the burn, helping me focus on the slow part of the movements–so killer and unlike any soreness I’ve had in awhile lol! It worked my entire core and targeted my whole body in fifty minutes. Yoga helped with stretching out any tight muscles and helping me feel relaxed. I’m not so much into the sweaty, hot yoga classes but the stress relief and flow classes did wonders for keeping me flexible and balanced.

IMG_0121

I rested about one-two times per week. If I felt I needed another day, I took it. If marathon training taught me one thing about myself, is that I am incredibly stubborn and wanting to keep pushing for more. Pushing for more isn’t a bad thing, but on some occasions I forced myself to relax and if feeling the urge to still do something, I picked a yoga class. Resting is SO important during this kind of training. It really is a big part of the process in that it allows you to let your body heal and mind refresh. Check out my post on the benefits of rest here.

DSC_0141
Running down Bayshore Blvd

Meal prep wasn’t bad because I already love being in the kitchen. I tried to minimize on how much I went out, about once or twice a week at the most. I cooked and prepared ahead of time occasionally, but most nights I get home late, so I incorporated my assembly only meals for dinner–aka SALADS! Yes, they were filling and full of only the good stuff. Each one had a bed of greens, various veggies, a lean protein, nuts/seeds, cheese, dried fruit, and simple easy dressing. If anyone doubts this amazing meal, all I’ll say is see for yourself because this is heaven. The best part is that it didn’t leave me filling full and gross before bed!

IMG_0162

Another thing I incorporated was protein shakes. I made them veggie-based (usually with spinach or kale), added fruit (fresh and frozen–either pineapple or mango), almond milk, and protein powder. Simple. They were great because I took them on the go, knew what was in it, snuck in a serving (or two) of vegetables, and it held me over. Best part was that I couldn’t taste the veggies! As always, I drank a lot of water. I didn’t ditch coffee, in fact I needed that even more since I was getting so tired! I drank minimally. I didn’t miss drinking and wanted to only fuel myself with quality ingredients. Even post training, I’m not drinking and want to continue to keep it to a minimum. I felt my best and want to keep it that way! Aside from eating healthy, I definitely had my share of carbs, but nothing crazy. Still kept it to a serving. I really like quinoa and brown rice the best. Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa –the best of both worlds, was a great thing to have on hand since all you needed was to mic it! Super easy and healthy. I didn’t deprive myself and let the eating take over my life. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was full, I stopped. I had sweets when I wanted. I ate chipotle, which came in handy for those carbs post run or before a tough workout–LiveSweatSleep gets me 😉 No deprivation allowed! Marathon training isn’t the time to lose weight. You need your body to be fueled to the very best in order to perform.

IMG_0170
If you haven’t noticed a pattern, I’m really into bowls…especially from Chipotle

This is my training in a nutshell. Three months of planning each week of workouts in my logseven to eight consistent hours each night of sleep, positive vibes and thoughts, and supportive family and friends. I’m hoping to include these components of training for future races while learning more about myself. In the meantime, you’ll still find me on the run but not going quite as far LOL and getting ready to gear up for my next race–the Gasparilla Half Marathon!!!

IMG_0301
Miami Marathon finisher medal #MiamiFamous
Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

Why I Love Being a Personal Trainer

I celebrated my three year anniversary of becoming a certified Personal Trainer just last month! I can definitely say I’ve met some pretty amazing people, attended various conferences and workshops, and helped make a difference in people’s lives by helping them reach their fitness goals. This is just the beginning as to why I love my job!

I majored in Exercise Science from the University of Tampa this past May and I decided to become a personal trainer my sophomore year of college. With my love of running, getting fit, and my newly declared major, I figured it was a good idea. It would also give me the opportunity to work at school in our gym as a way to get experience and make some extra money. I talked to a few people about different certifications and ways to go about it, and I finally took the plunge and bought a package full study materials from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I studied throughout the fall among my college classes (nuts I know) each week devoting Fridays, a day I had no class, as the day I would study for personal training. I would get up early and it would literally take most of my Friday to read the chapter, do the workbook pages for it, create/look over flashcards, watch the videos online, AND take the d@mn quiz. That was one lesson. Each week without fail, I got through the materials in about three months. I studied throughout Christmas break and on our family ski trip. I planned to take the exam at home before heading back for the spring semester…specifically on January 18th! After about four hours, I PASSED! I was so happy! The past three months of studying was worth it.

The past three years of training have been so rewarding, I’m so happy I decided to become a trainer. The studying and the test itself was tough, but besides that, it has taught me how to deal with people (both good and bad), stand up for myself, and challenge myself in the fitness world. Personal training is great because its a pretty flexible job and you are constantly on the go. Helping people get fit is fun, allows for creativity when creating workouts and plans, and is a hands-on application of knowledge. Working with a variety of people of different abilities and goals makes each client a new and exciting challenge. After college, I specifically chose to focus on in-home training, running based/interested, weight-loss, women, overall achieving a healthy lifestyle-type based clients. I also expanded my services to FaceTime. It wasn’t overnight, but the clients that were interested in my services also helped make my marketing. I gathered similar interests and goals from them as well as added my focuses, experience, and personality while creating my own niche. Everything is what YOU want, you are your own boss, another favorite part of my job. Becoming the trainer you want to become is all up to you!

Although I love what I do, it has its drawbacks like any other job. I can say first-hand that it is not always financially stable. Clients come and go as they want, availability changes, life happens, and sometimes that means a loss of a client of change of plans entirely. With  that comes less money or drop in compensation altogether. You work for your client and their needs, goals, availability, etc. (within reason) which in some cases means early mornings or late nights. Marketing takes time. Clients do not just come knocking on your door. YOU have to get them to knock. This is why I loved working at school as a trainer because people already knew me as, Ali: the sorority sister, friend, classmate, etc. and now personal trainer. Post college was tough. As a way to boost my business, I created this blog/website, my like page on Facebook: Ali Swank- Public Figure, and became an ambassador for a few fitness based companies such as Fit2Run-International Plaza, Momentum Jewelry, and Fitfluential. I established myself as blogger through Tampa Bay Bloggers, with my blog focusing particularly in running, but with an overall focus on living a healthy active lifestyle.

Throughout all the good and not-so-good experiences as a trainer, I can say I LOVE my job and am excited to continue this career throughout my life. I would say it definitely aligns with my vision of staying healthy, helping others get fit, and learning exercise isn’t boring, all while creating a positive experience. Side perks include working your own schedule…aka #girlboss, wearing workout clothes as part of everyday work…yes, I mean wearing yoga pants and nikes is perfectly okay ;), and helping others get fit and have fun! In a nutshell, this is my job…CHEERS to a new year of clients and experiences as working in one of the coolest industries–health and fitness!

My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

Hi everyone! It’s been a bit since I last posted since I wanted to think about my journey of my experience and not rush into just posting just to “post.” So the whole point of my blog was to document to my training for this race, but really I’ve been posting a lot about my active lifestyle in other ways besides running. This blog isn’t going to end anytime soon!–I’ll still use it to share my experiences throughout my running, fitness, recipes, and active lifestyle interests. I’m breaking up this post into two parts: Race Day & Training. There’s SO much to share so I would rather focus on one part of my journey at a time. This post is all about RACE DAY. The finale of my training!

I signed up for the marathon in July and started my training this past September. I booked about three months worth of training to play it safe while making room for life to happen, injuries, flexibility, etc. I ran about four times a week, which is what I typically do anyways but this time they were more scheduled runs. I still kept running for fun, but each run had purpose behind it in some way. They were an easy, tempo/speed based, long, or a combination of two.

IMG_0218
Time for Packet Pickup at the Expo

IMG_0211

Marathon Weekend/Day! 

I drove home that Friday before, stayed the night there, and the next day drove down to Miami with my mom. The expo was amazing and was in the Art Deco district of Miami. There was so many vendors, food samples, and gear! I bought the Miami Marathon 26.2 mile car magnet and bought an “official” Miami Marathon long sleeve shirt! (not included in goodie bag). My mom and I walked along the Wynwood District (a part of the Art Deco district), saw the Wynwood Walls—which I recommend! and found a local coffee shop called Panther Coffee…AHmazing. They have a delicious latte I must say. Its always ritual for a pasta dinner the night before, so I made reservations at this local Italian restaurent called Spaghettino through Yelp. It was so cute and local! I had gluten free pasta with homemade tomato sauce, mozzerella cheese, fresh basil, and seasonings and it was simple and delicious. I didn’t over stuff myself and made sure to drink plenty of water. We got back to the hotel and relaxed. I tried not to think about my race, look at the course map, over plan or think about any of it. As soon as I posted pics to social media, I played solitaire (my fav mindless game) then went to bed around 9:45. Early to bed before my wake-up at 3:30am to eat!!

IMG_0225
Wynwood District in Miami
IMG_0230
Mom’s really excited for our Italian pre race dinner!

Marathon “breakfast” included copious amounts of peanut butter with gluten free pretzels and an orange plus a bottle of water. I got to corral H (a corral are sectioned off areas behind the start to help keep runners organized, usually based on estimated finish times before the start of the race). My mom and I headed down around 5:15/5:30am all bundled up waiting to start at 6am. It was in the 40s that morning plus a windchill–one hell of a day to race! haha. I had two long sleeve shirts on for layering plus cheap gloves which I ditched at mile one. Throughout the beginning of the race, I didn’t kill myself and went about a minute slower then usual and took my first gu at mile four. I picked up the pace gradually, and had a gu every three miles.

By mile thirteen, I was feeling great! At this point I was considering removing and ditching my top layer. After going back and forth in my head, I decided against it. I honestly didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep going! There was a breeze the whole time, so keeping both layers was tolerable. One regret I had was looking back where the marathon and half split…..LOL all mental! Coconut Grove, a quaint residental and historic area of Miami, was my favorite part of the course. It was somewhat shaded and the houses were beautiful. Some local families had tables of there own with beer and candy to hand out!

IMG_0239
Pre-Race and Bundled Up before heading to the start!

IMG_0236

I stayed focused throughout mile twenty. Mile 23 was probably my toughest. It was the pier (not sure the name) but that’s when I felt myself somewhat fade…eekk!!! It was also the mile my music died due to my playlist not being long enough and ran out of my electrolyte drink, Nuun in my Nathan Sports water bottle…oh well! Again I didn’t want to stop so mentally I pushed through. They say count down from twenty, but six more miles was too much. After starting to feel tired, I up-ed my gu to every two miles. At this point I was so over the gu, which at this point had eight of them, it took me my all to get it down. I used gu as another form of measurement to the finish as well haha…” I would say *two* more gus till you get real food!” If I had any more then eight gus during this race, I would have puked. Sorry #TMI haha. I took gatorade the last three to four miles and had my last gu at mile twenty-two. I felt my feet burning from blisters forming and was WAY past feeling anything in my legs. I kept saying to myself “all your effort and training is right here in front of you” periodically throughout the race, especially approaching mile twenty and the last six miles.

IMG_0244
Most iconic pic of the whole race haha! Dad snapped this at mile 11

The last mile was momumental. Out of pure adrenaline, my pace was around seven or so minutes. I wanted to see that finish as soon as I could! We ran over the Biscayne Bridge before heading into mile 26 and although the bridge was hardly anything, it was the most mentally tough part of the course…tougher the mile 23. It didn’t help spectators saying, “finish is right over the bridge!” because it wasn’t. It was over the bridge, plus the .2 which was torture.

IMG_0246
SO CLOSE!

I’ve never been so happy to finish a race EVER!!!! The spectators along the sides of mile 26 were amazing. So many people cheering and smiling! I couldn’t help but smile too despite the pain. The finish was RIGHT THERE and BOOM I crossed it. Just like that, I FINISHED and was in one piece! Just like that it was over. I did the biggest fist pump at the finish. Then all of the sudden all the soreness and pain went straight to my legs and my body was numb. They tunneled us through the finish and gave goodie bags with pretzels and water. I was delirious. At the end of the finish, there was mom and dad!!! They had the cutest and brightest signs and were right in the front of the crowd. I was ELATED to see them. My mom cried and gave me a hug and my dad just gave me a hug and congratulated me. I needed water and fluids immediately but oddly there was not many options in the post race area 😦 one of the downsides in terms of poor planning. I sat down and couldn’t move and had no appetite. Three blisters later, but thankfully that was my worst “pain” the whole race. Thank God my mom surprised me with a new pair of flip flops called, Oofos. They were HEAVEN and was like walking on a cloud. We walked ten blocks back to the hotel…the longest ten blocks of my life even though I know it was good for me to keep moving. I showered, changed, and put on my CEP compression tights. Time for lunch at the Biscayne Tavern!

IMG_0251
The FEELS are REAL

We went to a place for lunch called Biscayne Tavern for lunch, another Yelp recommendation. All I wanted post marathon was a huge A$$ burger and fries. This place hit the nail on the head let me tell you. The burger was amazing with all the fixings and sweet potato fries were on point. I didn’t have a beer because I feel like I couldn’t completely stomach that post race plus I felt dehydrated. After lunch we headed out of town and back to Delray where we arrived around 3pm and I went to bed, iced, ate more, and went to bed again. LOL.

I took off Monday and stayed home and recovered. I got a massage the next day at The Sagely Willow Massage & Bodywork Company. I’m not one to get massages, but today it was SO necessary! It was amazing. They used a car buffer/polisher on my body and it did wonders! I felt significantly better and was able to drive back to Tampa that evening.

I must say it was by far the most amazing running experience yet AND I would do it AGAIN! I’m proud to say I ran the entire race, did not need first aid, didn’t stop for water, gu, to use the bathroom, or tie my shoe, walk etc. I knew signing up I would RUN the entire thing and nothing else. Not to say walking if I had to would be the end of the world, but I had trained the three months I did to RUN it.

I finished strong with a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes and took number eight out of ten in my age group! All the training, early morning runs, the amount of time I spent on my feet, speed and intervals sessions, and gu of all things paid off!! Although I’m incredibly proud of my time and place, I am most proud of my commitment to my training. I could have said f— it, I don’t want to run today, but I sucked it up and perservered on ALL of my runs. I did not miss many of my runs. I knew the training I was getting into and the time I would be devoting to this. In some ways training is like a part-time job. I made sure to not look at it like this, but more of a dedication to my passion and an opportunity to improve and challenge myself. I can say I don’t regret training for this distance and making it part of my schedule the past three months. I can officially say that it’s true, miles change you, and I’m grateful every single one.

IMG_0247
Standing and Smiling Post 26.2! Look at that hardware!

IMG_0253

Results are IN!

 

 

 

Mantra Tampa: The Ultimate Pilates Workout

Mantra Tampa: The Ultimate Pilates Workout

*Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was able to experience Mantra Tampa in exchange of free classes for writing this post. As always, my opinions are my own*

I was recently chosen to experience Mantra Tampa through Tampa Bay Bloggers! Mantra Tampa is located in South Tampa on South Dale Mabry and in Sarasota. Described as a “pilates on steroids” type workout using a Megaformer, you work your entire body with no impact focusing on core, upper body and lower body, and balance. Each class is fifty minutes total with a small class size of about eight to twelve participants with the instructor leading you throughout the entire workout. To get the best results, they recommend you take classes two-three times per week with enough time for your body to rest in between. Some people take classes five-six times per week, but always remember to listen to your body! Roughly, you can burn up 500-700 calories in fifty minutes! Talk about an intense burn…you end up burning calories post workout too! Check out other FAQ’s here.

IMG_0121

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about my first class. I went in and received an overview of the Megaformer, what to expect, and a few basic terms. I felt awkward the first time, but caught on quickly. By the end of the class, I was already catching on! The key is to “go slow” to activate slow-twitch muscle activation while adding pulsing and holding. It was safe to say I was definitely dripping and shaking within the first five minutes 😛 holy sweatfest!!!

12341398_1630439573874074_1358397304539778425_n

Not only does it combine strength training, but it is a great way to cross train. They recommend you should invest in some Toe-Sox, socks with grips on the bottom that allow you to feel more stable when transitioning to other parts of the Megaformer, and a towel…’nuff said 😉

IMG_0115-1

IMG_4659

Organizing the Essentials: Check Out What’s in My Gym Bag

Organizing the Essentials: Check Out What’s in My Gym Bag

Like many people this new year, a resolution is stay or get healthy and fit. I didn’t always carry a gym bag when I started getting into fitness and health. I took group fitness classes in high school and only brought my water, car keys, towel, and phone. I took up cross country and had my backpack with my school stuff and change of clothes stuffed into two overstuffed, undersized bags without much thought besides the basics: socks, running shoes, sports bra, and cotton (ugh) shorts and shirt/tank top.

Two years ago I decided to learn more about the gym and took the time to challenge myself and push intimidation aside on the squat rack. This past year I got certified in group fitness and was in the gym a lot more and in some cases left the gym to train clients, teach classes, get my own workout done, or run errands and needed a legit place to put my stuff (which I carried too much of). After trial and error, I realized how you prep for your day starts with what you consider to be essentials and how you organize them in order to stay focused in and out of the gym. I have a wristlet clutch for my wallet, keys, business cards, cards/cash, and phone and my Jansport backpack for bigger things for food, clothes, laptop, notebook, toiletries, etc. I combine the two, and BOOM much more efficiently organized and ready to go! 

What I have in my bag at the moment: 

-Three to four sweaty bands/wide headbands

-Toe-socks for teaching barre

-Camelback water bottle

-Cheap headphones & extra Fitletic Armband for my phone ready for a workout

-Whistle for teaching my bootcamp class, HEAT

-A couple pens (ya never know!)

-My old phone (now basically an iPod) for music when I teach/workout since I like to keep my real phone put away to limit calls, texts, emails, etc. 

-Healthy portable snacks like baby carrots or nuts

-Extra phone charger

Why Inclines/DIY Hills Can Be Your Friend + Incline Workout

Why Inclines/DIY Hills Can Be Your Friend + Incline Workout

Happy Wednesday! Although I live in Florida and hills are not really a thing (unless you have bridges #SoFlo or north florida-ish), reaping benefits of hills can be tough. Luckily in Downtown Tampa where I teach, using a long ramp along the backside of Curtis Hixon Park (Tampa friends you know where I’m talking) has been good to get some incline in and where I did my workout yesterday! If you don’t have a ramp, using a stadium, stairwell, even the stair master at your gym works too! Parking garages are also a great option, just make sure you’re running them safely and during a less busy time of day.

Hills can be intimidating, a long and tough climb to the top, but they have other benefits besides just strengthening your legs:

  • Build endurance
  • Improve efficiency
  • Great way to challenge yourself before a flat course
  • SPEED- hills are basically speed work in disguise
  • Boost cardiovascular fitness

After reading up on hills, I’m planning on doing a bridge workout with my HEAT class and adding to my training as well. Look for that post up soon too!! 😉 Back to inclines though, it all has benefits. I feel most people run them too hard, too fast up them resulting in burnout or they honestly hate them and don’t do them at all. Go slow, take baby steps up, and recruit those arms help propel you up! If you have joint issues, the downhill part of the hill is where you want to be careful. The eccentric (lengthening) part of the movement on the way down, can put pressure and extra strain on joints. Control your movement instead of “letting yourself go.” Rest at the bottom, then back over again! Your heart and legs will thank you 🙂

Check out my incline workout I did with my class yesterday! As mentioned above, use a stairwell, treadmill/stairmaster, stadium, etc. if you don’t have a ramp!

Curtis Hixon Ramp Workout (no equipment–YAY!)

Three exercises per round at the bottom, middle, and top of each incline

*single count means each side counts as 1 rep

*double count means both side counts as 1 rep

Starting at bottom, focus is lower body/squats[cue Drake’s song haha] : 

-50 basic squats~~ run to middle portion of incline

50 pulse squats~~ run to top of incline

-50 jump squats/basic squats~~ run back to the bottom

~REST 1 min~

Bottom, focus is cardio:

-40 jumping jacks~~ run to middle of incline

40 burpees~~ run to top of incline

-40 Skaters (single count)~~ run down to bottom

~REST 1 min~

Bottom, focus is abs:

30 bicycle crunches (double count)~~ run to middle

-30 supermans~~ run to top

-30 flutter kicks (double count)~~ run back down

~REST 1 min~

HOLLAA you’re done! Don’t forget to stretch and cool-down after. 😉

Reap Benefits of Recreation

Reap Benefits of Recreation

Friday is here YAY! That means more time for sleep, catch on work, fun things to do, and new ways to get FIT! Sometimes getting into a gym after work can be a drag, especially when friends or co-workers invite you to happy hour.

If we wanna maintain goals and stay on track, its good to have back-up plans or new ideas to have in mind that will keep us focused. So what if we can’t get in that 45 min spin class we wanted? Maybe a walk or a bike ride on Saturday will work. Its a about balance. Something is better then nothing right?! That’s where recreation comes in! No one seems to use that word anymore…lol. I have my minor in it, so I’m used to calling any activity (gym or no gym) that name.  I mean running, cycling, dance, hiking, swimming, walking, stand-up paddle boarding (another fav!), roller blading, fitness in general etc. is considered recreation. (btw who still roller blades?!?). So when you dread heading into the gym, re-think it and see if any of these activities seem, hmm…fun-er? 😉

  • Running—the whole foundation of my blog is top of my list!
    • Benefits: aerobic, anywhere, only need shoes, quick!
  • Swimming—a great summertime sport that includes some resistance, not just aerobic
    • Benefits: aerobic, low impact, some resistance involved, total body type movement
  • Walking—anyone can do it!
    • Benefits: somewhat aerobic, great/easy way to get moving for any fitness level, no special clothes or equipment required, fun, convenient
  • Hiking—not really here in FL (although in some parts, yes!), varying terrain makes this activity tough and invigorating
    • Benefits: aerobic, great way to see the outdoors, good for doing in groups, challenges balance, works small muscle groups in the legs and foot
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding—A Floridian’s favorite, or can be done on any flat lake or calm inlet.
    • Benefits: somewhat aerobic, great for balance, core, and posture, good for groups, great workout for upper body
  • Roller Blading—An oldie, but goodie!
    • Benefits: aerobic, great strength workout for legs, convenient, good for balance and core

Yes, these activities do NOT require a gym, but who said to improve you had to be in one?? Not here! This time of year can be tough getting in a workout, so the options above offer something for everyone without completely ditching your workout altogether…better then no workout, AM I RIGHT?! They might not create the strength training, heavy sweat sesh workout all of us crave, but they do offer tons of benefits. A good thing to keep in mind around the holidays, when you’re with family, friends, co-workers, etc and want to do something together!

YOUR TURN: Any good go-to activities you guys do that help with staying on track during the holiday season?? Comment below!

 

Monday Motivation: Tired of Starting Over?

Monday Motivation: Tired of Starting Over?

Hellooooo!! Monday Motivation time. Been trying to get more ideas for topics, and this one came to mind! How many times does it seem like you’ve yo-yoed back and forth with a fitness routine or healthy habits? This time of year is notorious for that. Instead of setting the scale back ten pounds, use this time to figure out why you keep restarting. Below are some factors that may help you figure out why!

  • Not sure what you like/don’t like when it comes to exercise
    • Possible ideas: group fitness cardio/strength training classes, working out alone vs. a group/dependable workout buddy, mind-body workouts (yoga, barre, pilates), recreation (biking, running, swimming), social ties (running/biking club),  willing to invest in a  personal trainer? (see personal training tab for more info ;)), etc.
    • Take into your account your personality, interests, schedule etc.
    • Its okay to NOT like something!
    • Make a note of what you like and don’t like…e.g. like spin, but not a fan of the class time or instructor? try another!
  • Location
    • Possible ideas: outside at a local park, big box gym vs. private boutique style gym, female based gym (curves), travel time (close vs. further away), corporate fitness gym. Deciding on location can be a make-it or break-it factor since it is a reflection of how often you will go. 
  • Emotions (this may take more thought)
    • Possible ideas: underlying cause to feeling a certain way towards exercise, nervous, intimidated, open to new things, enthusiastic to making a change etc. If you struggle with investing in a gym because you feel intimidated/excited for change, ask yourself WHY do you feel intimidated/excited for change.
  • Costs/budget
    • Possible ideas: Exercise doesn’t have to be costly!! Gaining happiness and starting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t require hefty price tag, however it may mean a small investment to jump start your routine. Buying workout clothes from Target is more affordable then Nike, running/walking in your neighborhood doesn’t require a gym membership, and healthy recipes can be found on the internet (particularly on pinterest!).
  • FOOD!
    • Sometimes a big culprit is not exercise but food. Yo-yoing because you feel confused over calories, what a fat or carb is, what is good for building muscle, etc. is something that is immensely helpful in achieving our goals. Checking out resourceful sites such as acefitness.org on nutrition basics can make a difference. If its a combination, looking into Weight Watchers or Beachbody can help with both exercise and nutrition! If you are serious about investing your time in to eating well, utilizing a nutritionist or RD is the ultimate way to go!
  • Lifestyle Choices
    • Being on the go, eating out a lot, food choices (e.g alcohol consumption, minimal fruits/veggies), vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, allergies, picky vs. non-picky eater etc. The little things you might not think of play a role too!

Even if you don’t make the effort now to do this, setting yourself up for success in the new year will still help you in figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to jot down thoughts in a notebook, bounce ideas of others, do some research on a topic, heck! try on different styles of workout clothes to see what stuff/brands you like and don’t like! What works for you may not work for someone else, so there is NO RUSH! Exercising and healthy living isn’t going anywhere so focus on you and do it right. Don’t be afraid to DIG DEEP and be HONEST with yourself! You know you the best! 😉