Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pump up the Jam

Aaahhhh, the memories that arise when I recall singing along to the radio as that catchy tune infiltrated waves in the early '90's.... 
Nowadays, our iPods, iTouch's, Zune's, and MP3's help us set the pace for a highly productive workout. No matter if you need a fast, up-tempo or a more melodic tune to sweat to, finding a good mix that won't distract can be pretty difficult.
I'm a distance runner (or try to act like one). I need a mix that keeps me going, boosts my energy, and snaps me out of focusing on pain, boredom, or exhaustion. My musical preferences lie all across the board from 80's dance, 90's rock, alternative, punk, and mainstream hits. For me, variety is the spice of life.
Feel free to peruse a sampling of my "Workin' It" mix.
"Wait a Minute" Pussycat Dolls/ Timbaland
"Holla Back Girl"  Gwen Stefani
"Sexy Back"  Justin Timberlake
"Love Will Never Do Without You"  Janet Jackson
"Go Girl"  Pitbull
"You Can Do It"  Ice Cube
"Spaz"  N.E.R.D
"Feel Good Drag"  Anberlin
"Dead and Gone"  Justin Timberlake and T.I.
"Black Heart Inertia"  Incubus
"Green Light" John Legend (featuring Andre 3000)
"One more Time"  Daft Punk
"Let the Music Play"  Shannon
"Skinny Little Bitch"  Hole

Need some help finding a fitness mix? Want to spice up a current playlist? 
If you have access to iTunes and the iStore, follow these instructions:
- Click on iTunes Store
- Click on "Music" tab in upper left/center
- Scroll to bottom of page to "Nike Sport Mix" under "More to Explore" tab
- Feel free to look around here or go to "View or Create Sport iMixes"

Have some awesome power songs on your iPOD? Share them with us! Post them to "comments" and help your fellow fitness enthusiasts on the quest to the perfect playlist!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Race for the Cure 2010

Who doesn't love participating in a good cause. Better yet, who doesn't love participating in a good cause while also getting in shape? Score.
The Susan B Komen Race for the Cure is nothing short of an awesome event. With over 8,500 partipants in last weekend's event, how could you not smile at the thought of human-kind uniting towards a common, positive goal? My first event benefiting breast cancer research won't be my last.
Want more information on this awesome movement? Click here.
The Finish Line

A small portion of Team "Run for Joy"

I couldn't resist documenting the hilarious team T-shirts. Props to the teams who got uber-creative with their team name and outfits. Way to break the mold and put a positive spin on this event!

"Save the Milk Makers"

Where else could you get away with wearing a cape AND a tutu?

My personal favorite, "Saving 2nd Base". Cheers to you, ladies.

Team "Run for Joy" raised about $4000 in support of breast cancer research. Way to go! Let's try and double it for next year!!!
If you'd like to support the Susan B Komen Race for the Cure in your city, click here to find an event near you.
One last bit. This is a great way to get the women in your life (family, friends, coworkers) together. What a great looking Mother-Daughter team!

Icing on the cake: I qualified for "Second Seeding" placement for Bloomsday on May 2nd. This means that I got a race time that will get me perks come race day! Special starting location, less crowds, more freebies!!
5k race time: 20:52

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Take It Outside!

It's official. You may no longer use the weather as an excuse to get out of a good, healthy, outdoor workout. By now you've either had your fill of people watching at your local fitness club or added another 10lbs on top of your winter weight due to a lack of membership to said fitness club. No more get-out-of-fitness-free card!! Get outside!!
Here are some of my no-fail, no-fuss recommendations.
1. Plank Pose

Yep, I realize that I've mentioned this move before. But come on people. How much simpler can I get?
Start in the prone position (on your tummy). Pick up your hips, shift onto your toes and forearms. Keep your forearms parallel- no clasping hands together. Don't allow a sway in your lower back- hips up, abs tight!
Hold this position for 20-30sec at a time.

2. Walking Lunges
With so many variations to this move, I decided to go with the old-faithful walking lunge. This move tones your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Kick it up a notch by holding a 10lb weight out in front of you (like a steering wheel). This simple upgrade brings in your deltoids, biceps, and triceps. I love multi-tasking. Repeat 20 full steps forward, then turn around for 20 steps back.

Start with good posture: Shoulders back, core tight, feet together.
Extend hands out in front of you for balance. Step forward with your R foot, bend R knee and L knee simultaneously. Keep your shoulders over your hips- don't lean forward or backward when bending legs. This will keep your core engaged.
Now step forward with your L leg (in a walking manor from Step 2). Repeat the same movement with knees bending at 90 degree angles.
*Note: Try to keep the knees at 90 degree angles (see above images). This will ensure the safety of your knee joints. Never allow your front knee to extend in front of the front toe, ouch!
3. Quad Dips
Tone those thighs! Use a park bench or picnic bench (free equipment!).

Begin by standing in front of a park bench. Place your R foot back onto the bench (90 degree angle). Extend arms in front for balance.
Balance on your L leg, lowering straight down- shoulders over hips. Keep your L knee from jutting out over the toe. Once in the ending position (at left), push through the heels back into the starting position. Repeat this move 10 times, then switch legs.
4. Bench Jumps
Jumping exercises falls into the Plyometrics school of exercises. Great for balance, core training, and muscle tone. A 10" height is a good starting off point. Benches are usually between 12-16". 20 of these jumps should do the trick. Not enough for a good burn? Find something else demanding a higher jump. 24" does the trick for me!
Ah, yes. Another "keep it simple" move. Start with bent knees, tight core, hands extended for balance. Stand approximately 6 inches back from the bench.
Hop forward onto the bench with knees bent. Shift hips forward to stand straight up. Step backwards onto the ground into the starting position.
5. Rent a Puppy!!
How much more fun can it get? I'm sure you know someone with an active dog in case you don't own one. No? Go to your local humane society and they'll let you take the pooch of your choice out for a jaunt. Community service= two birds, one stone. Awesome.
Oh wait, and youre exercising too!!!
*Kudos: Thank you to my wonderful hubby-to-be for your amateur photography. Your support is much appreciated!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Core Basics

Core, Abs, Tummy, Spare Tire, whatever your choose to call the space below your chest and above your "you know what". For most of us, this is the area we refer to as a "problem spot". If you think doing 100 sit-ups a day will help you shed that extra fat, think again.
Below are some tried and true moves that not only shape and tone those otherwise flabby love handles, but also aid in improved posture, deeper breathing, and maybe even a better golf game! (that'd be a big maybe)
Stability Ball Crunch

Oh, look! She's even smiling while doing this extra-user-friendly move!
Step 1: Start by balancing your hips and abs on a stability ball. Make sure that the size is correct for your height and weight. Double check your positioning by creating a 90 degree angle in your knee joint. Lay flat with you hands resting gently behind your ears.
Step 2: Keep your head/neck relaxed while focusing on using your tummy to lift your shoulders up and forward. (Refer to happy girl in picture above.) It may help your form to focus on squuezing all the air out of your abs while lifting up. Exhale.
Step 3: Lower your shoulder blads back down into the starting position. Your total movement shouldn't be more than 10 inches between Steps 1 and 2. Repeat for a total of 15 reps.
** Want to kick it up a notch? Balance yourself on your R leg only. Take your L ankle and balance it on your R knee. You can also try putting a 5 or 10lb plate behind your head, held stable by both hands. Just make sure to keep your head and neck in a neutral, relaxed position.
Straight- Leg Hip Raise
Step 1: Start by lying flat on your back, hands down at your sides.
Step 2: Push your hips up to the ceiling, both feet on the floor. Clasp your hands together into a fist under your glutes, extend them straight towards your feet. This will help you keep stable.
Step 3: You will start to feel a slight burn in your glutes and abdominals at this point. Extend your R leg (with foot flexed) straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your foot flexed.
Step 4: Lower your glutes back down to the floor, while keeping your R leg straight up (perpendicular to your body). Push your glutes back up - mimiking the picture above.
Step 5: Repeat this up and down motion with your glutes while keeping your leg suspended. Attempt 10 reps, them switch. This is a great move for your thoracic core (back stabilizers) as well as your glute complex and abdominals.
* Need more of a challenge? Attach an ankle weight to the leg suspended. You could also try a resistance band. Hold both handles in your hands and place the band across the arch of your foot. Extend that foot upward, instant resistance!
Knee to Elbow Crunches

Step 1: Start out lying flat on your back, hands resting lightly just behind your ears.
Step 2: Lift both feet up simultaneously, approximately 3 inches above the floor. (Focus on keeping your lower back on the floor at all times. This will keep back pain at bay.)
Step 3: Lift your R shoulder blade off the floor while bending your L knee towards the body. Rotate your core so your elbow and knee connect. Overemphasize the rotation.
Step 4: Bring your knee and shoulder blade back to Step 2 while lifting your L shoulder blade and R knee to meet, rotating the opposite position as Step 3. This does take some coordination. Don't forget to breath and take it slow!!
Step 5: Repeat this alternating movement 15- 20 reps. By keeping both legs off the ground for the entirety of the exercise, you maintain tension in your abdominals no matter which position your elbows and knees are in.
** Make sure to breath in while changing elbows and knees, breath out while holding for 3 seconds in the rotating position. By exhaling when in the "crunching" position, you maximize your abdominals time under tension.
**If you experience back pain during this exercise, drop your legs to the floor and only lift one leg at a time. Over time, work with various forms of resistence. Once your core is strong enough, you'll be able to experiment with lifting both legs off the floor. 

Disclaimer/ Helpful Hint: I cannot emphasize enough to my clients how much of an impact DIET has on the appearance of your tummy/abs/muffin top. (yes, i just said muffin top). By cutting out preservatives, sugar, and processed foods, you will be amazed at how much better you'll look in a swimsuit! You'll also have more energy to participate in all those fun summer activities! Double score!