Plank Circuit v2.0

How did you like the plankety-plank plank plank circuit from last week?

I have a few more plank variations for you this week so you can continue to challenge yourself.  If you’re not feeling like you’re ready for these harder variations, keep at the other circuit for another week or two.  Bookmark this post, and come on back when you’re ready!

Grab a yoga mat or get to a rug or carpet, and let’s get going.  There are modifications described in each of the four videos.

All levels: Start with 2 circuits.  Add a 3rd if you’re up for it.

If you’re a beginner, I suggest starting with 30 seconds per plank, with 30 seconds rest.

If you’re an intermediate, go for 45 seconds per plank, 30 seconds rest.

Advanced?  Give yourself a challenge: 1 minute per plank, 30 seconds rest.

 

 

 

Happy planking!

Let me know how it goes!

 

 

Plank-ety Plank Plank Plank

Only have time to do one exercise?

Make it a plank.

Why?

When you plank, you engage all of the muscles of the abdomen, the chest, and the low body.  While increasing static strength in the whole body, you also forge mental fortitude as you push yourself to hold planks for longer each time.  Doing planks regularly can help improve your posture, develop core strength that will translate into gains in your other fitness endeavors, and they make you feel like a super strong beast!

Another reason the plank is such a great exercise is that it is nearly endlessly modifiable.  It can be made easier for beginners and more challenging for advanced exercisers.  It can be done in multiple planes, thereby working the front, back, and side body depending on the variation.  The videos below include options for modifying each plank to your ability level.

Don’t believe me?  Grab a yoga mat or get to a rug or carpet, and let’s get going.

All levels: Complete 3 circuits

If you’re a beginner, I suggest starting with 30 seconds per plank, with 30 seconds rest.

If you’re an intermediate, go for 45 seconds per plank, 30 seconds rest.

Advanced?  Give yourself a challenge: 1 minute per plank, 30 seconds rest.

 

 

 

The best part about this circuit is that you can do it every day.  You can do it in front of the TV.  You can challenge your kids to do it with you.  You can do it in your regular clothes, and you won’t need a shower afterwards.

Go ahead.  Give yourself 10 minutes and get your plank on!

Let me know how it went for you!

P.S. I’ll be back next week with another plank workout.  You’re going to love it.

 

 

Camping in the Village

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Last week a woman who was just starting out on her entrepreneurial journey asked a group of seasoned mompreneurs what their Number One Challenge was when launching a business.  Nearly without exception, each mom replied: “Reliable childcare.”

For many women (myself included), starting her own business was fueled by the desire to have a flexible schedule.  Rather than working in a traditional job with traditional hours, the flexibility can (ideally) allow women to have more satisfying work-life balance.

You know, that old unicorn you’ve heard so much about.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes every single villager to get the moms through Summer vacation.  While many of us designed our work lives with the intentional benefit of having more time with our children, school holidays throw a real wrench into the finely-tuned works.  It’s impossible to keep the work side of life moving forward and be a full-time parent and 24/7 entertainer, referee, chef, chauffeur, and snuggler to each child. As someone with three kids at three very different stages (preschool, elementary, and adolescent), I kind of want to tear my hair out trying to do the algebra of how I can keep them all safe, happy, and motivated in the summer while I’m working my odd-hours job.

Enter Nurture My Child, and Austin-based resource that presents a single site to help families find options for all of their child-related camp, class, and childcare needs.  The database is updated consistently and is the only place where a large majority of camps in Austin and the surrounding areas are listed and families can search by multiple criteria like activities, schedule, location, or ages.  The ease of use and reliability of information takes a lot of the investigative drudgery out of the parents’ hands.

If you’re in my village of Austin, put Sunday, February 28, 1-5pm  on your calendar.  Nurture My Child will host the annual Austin Summer Camp Fair at Norris Conference Center in north-central Austin.  Come by and meet representatives from Austin’s “best of” camps, including The Thinkery, Kidventure, Creative Action, Ballet Austin, and the Art Garage— there’s something for every kid!

This kid-friendly event will include booths from over 70 local camps, arranged by location of venue.  Two thumbs up from this mom who is more than willing to give her kid any great opportunity….so long as it doesn’t require a soul-beating, traffic-laden commute.

So as you’re pulling together your summer plans (I know it’s only January, but you can’t say you aren’t already starting to plan….), know that Nurture My Child can make your life easier.  Invite them in to your village, and let your kids go camping.

I was invited to attend a blogger’s launch of Nurture My Child.  I received no compensation for my time, and all opinions are my own.

 

Comrades Update: Easing Into Strength Training

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Photo by W_Minshull

It’s no secret that I really dislike strength training.  I find no joy in lifting weights.  I know how important being lean and strong is for runners, but it all feels tiresome and pointless to me.  Where running is The Force, strength training is from The Dark Side.

One of the main pieces of advice I hear repeated by Comrades veterans is that strength training is critical for the down run.  I’m not surprised.  I have run the Boston Marathon four times, and I know that the last four miles (which are a glorious downhill) can be a nightmare on the quads if you’ve gone out to fast in the first seven miles, which are a not-so-obvious downhill.  I can only imagine the quad screaming one experiences in the second half of the Comrades down run.  I want to be prepared.

I have to trick myself into the strength work, though, or I won’t do it.  Although I could easily outline my own program, I know myself well enough to realize that I will have better adherence to someone else’s program.  Why?  Because if I’ve planned a particular exercise or set of exercises, and I just don’t feel like doing them that day, I’ll go off-script and do something else.  (Nine times out of ten, it will be something easier or something that won’t serve me as well.)  But if someone else is telling me what to do, I’m much more compliant.  Thus, I’ve chosen two 30-day programs available free on social media to do for the month of January to ease my way in to regular strength training.

The first is UK-based James Dunne’s Kinetic Revoultion 30-Day Challenge.  In the short videos (available via an email subscription or instagram @kineticrev), James presents two daily exercises.  The body-weight exercises are targeted to runners, so there’s lots of work in the glutes, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, and quads.  What I like about the program is that it’s well-balanced, with core exercises and stretches interspersed into the program every few days.  Each day’s workout takes 8-10 minutes, and it’s something you can do without breaking a sweat.

The second way I’m easing into strength training is with Yoga With Adriene‘s Yoga Camp on You Tube (also available via an email subscription or a pay-as-you-wish download). I’ve had a regular yoga practice for 13 years, but this is the first time I’ve done guided yoga for 20 straight days.  With a great mix of standing postures, pranyama, relaxation days, and challenging vinyasa sessions, the videos (most of which are around 30 minutes) are adding an important counterpoint to my workouts.  I feel more confident in my balancing postures, more supported in my low back, and more appreciative of what my body can do.  I must admit I have a fan-girl crush on Adriene– I love her attitude, and I find the way she describes what she is doing to be so clear that I can move through the entire practice with my eyes closed.    I’ve been doing the Yoga Camp videos in the evenings, sometimes with my kids alongside me and sometimes right before bed.  Either way, I’m really loving the positive contributions they bring into my day.

If you’re looking for ways to sneak some strength work into your workouts, I recommend both James Dunne’s Kinetic Revolution and Yoga With Adriene’s Yoga Camp.  These free programs are worth your time, and they’re led by reputable people who know the body well.  I can’t wait to see how they help with my running when I hit the road for my first 50K in six years at the end of the month.

Good health and great happiness to you!

Active Kids Reap Life-Long Benefits

I’ll be honest. I am a fan of Title IX legislation. I benefitted from it as a teenager, participating in small-scale sports of cross-country and track. Certainly without the push to equalize opportunites for girls and boys, there would not have been funding for the sports I loved. And my interest in fitness has obviously carried over into adulthood, becoming an integral part of who I am.

Several years ago, the New York Times published an article about the benefits of participating in sports as youths. The article cites a study that rigorously assessed the socio-economic backgrounds of youths across the US and linked their success to participation in organized sports. Sure, we have long touted the intangible benefits of being part of a sports team– character building, teamwork, and feeling part of a something larger than the individual– but the study takes things a step further to demonstrate that kids who participate in sports also go on to higher education, have fewer incidences of negative life-changing events like drug use or teen pregnancy, and higher levels of meaningful employment.

It was timely for me to re-read this article, as I volunteered recently in my son’s elementary PE class. Not only was I impressed by the coach’s arsenal of activities to keep the kids moving, but he worked hard to really educate the children at the same time. For example, rather than just playing a simple game of tag, the kids played “muscle group tag”: when a child was tagged (by me or the other parent volunteer), s/he had to freeze and take a pose to show off a particular muscle group. To be unfrozen and join the game again, a classmate had to stop in front of the frozen child, make the same pose, and name the muscle group the frozen child was demonstrating. In the course of the 6-8 minutes the kids played the game, there were shouts of biceps, triceps, pectoralis, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. What a great way to get kids moving, teach them about their bodies, and have a blast while doing it.

As a personal trainer, I know that having fun with fitness is the key to adhering to an exercise program. I applaud our school’s coach– and the thousands of others like him around the country– who work hard every day to educate and encourage our children to a fit lifestyle.  With news reports that frequently remind us that recess and PE are being slashed from the school day, it’s important for parents to know what is happening at their child’s school.  Does your child’s PE program have an Open Door policy?  Encourage one!

After 45 minutes of fun-filled, fast-paced physical education the kids recited a poem (with motions, of course) in unison. It was awesome to hear and watch 22 kids so enthusiastically deliver a lesson that we can all benefit from, whether our fitness journey started as a child, a teen, or an adult:

Eat right. Stay fit.

Work hard. Never quit!

Brain wise. Safety smart.

Live strong for a healthy heart!

Hold it! A Static Circuit Workout

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For those of you deep into the January doldrums, for whom the enthusiasm for the New Year and all of its promise has already waned, I offer to you today a simple but effective workout.

And while it may not instantly transport you to a beach with a beautiful, golden-lit sunset, it probably will make you feel better.

Baby steps, people.

This workout is a static circuit.

Static?  What’s that about?

Each of the five exercises in this circuit don’t require any movement.  You simply hold the body form– this type of exercise is known as an isometric exercise because even though the muscle isn’t moving through a range of motion, it is still under stress (this is a good thing) which is necessary for muscle growth.

This workout is five exercises done one right after the other, three times through.  The total workout time is fifteen minutes.

The first circuit is 30 seconds/exercise.

The second circuit is 60 seconds/exercise.

The third circuit is 90 seconds/exercise.

That’s right…it gets harder as you get more tired.

(How delightfully wicked of me!)

In order, the exercises are: plank, wall sit, v-sit, cobra, bridge (lift & hold).

If you know how to do those exercises, rock and roll.  If you don’t click on each one to be taken to a short video with Yours Truly espousing form cues and tips for modifications.

Let me know how you liked this workout.  Sometimes not moving much is a harder workout than you’d expect!

Good health and great happiness to you!

The Beauty of Simplicity

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I’m going to give it to you straight: I’m old school.

No fancy equipment.

No GPS-tracking.

No headphones.

Just shoes.

For me, it’s the simplicity of running that is so appealing.

As a lifelong runner, I got hooked on the sport long before technology came along to ‘improve’ it.  When I started racing, finish order was determined by giving each runner a sequentially-numbered popsicle stick as they came through the chute, then a person with a clipboard taking the stick and asking for the runner’s name.  Seriously.  In bigger races, volunteers would pull tags off the bottom of number bibs and keep them in finisher order to match up later.  I even ran my first marathon before chip timing.

But it’s not (only) old lady crotcheyness that keeps me running without all the newfangled gadgetry.  Ditching the crutches of technology can improve your running.  Your body will run at its natural pace, and your brain will learn what number to assign to that pace.  Running without your GPS—or even a watch—forces you to pay attention to your body and your effort level.  You are able to tune in to yourself without the external chatter of your technology telling you how you should be feeling.  My PR at 10K was run on a course with no mile markers or split times; had I known how fast I was going, I would have slowed down because “I can’t run that fast!”

I’m also old school in tracking my training.  I still log my runs on paper, despite reviewing and recommending fitness and tracking apps to clients on a weekly basis.  I take comfort in going back through my logs—over 20 years of them at this point—and seeing my handwriting, reading the comments, and revisiting the feelings I had as I moved through the highs and lows of my life.  Running is therapy, and my log books are the journals demonstrate my progress.

There’s also a democracy of running that keeps me loyal to the sport.  How many other sports have elite athletes and regular folks competing in the same event on the same course (field, court, pitch) at the same time?  To be able to participate in such a unifying way is quite remarkable in our increasingly-stratified society.  And when I remember that I can strip away everything but me and the movement, the simplicity and purity of running is real joy.

Good health and great happiness to you!