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  • Vote in This Week's Poll: How are your summer workouts going?

    How much pain are you in these days? I only ask that because I'm seeing a lot of weekend warrior syndrome going on around here and, frankly, it's not pretty. It's like we all got let out of Winter Jail and we decided we had to to everything - Run, bike, hike, rake, mulch, trim, edge, take the kids for a 9-hour bike ride and then cut the grass.

    Warm weather can do that to you. With all of the outdoor shenanigans going on, I'm curious about your actual workouts. Are you keeping up with your normal routine or do you use your outdoor activities as you workouts this time of year? Vote in this week's poll and tell us about your summer workouts.

  • Workout of the Week: Energize Your Body

    The funny thing about this time of year is that it seems like it should be kind of lazy and relaxing. Like the sun is out and it's finally warm enough to go hang out in the hammock reading books all day and/or contemplating one's navel.

    What's really happening is probably about as far from a hammock, or a navel for that matter, as you can get. There are graduations and confirmations and family visits and weeds and flowers and kids and piles of mulch to spread and...well...winter is over, y'all. It's time to get busy and, man, are we busy.

    I noticed that when we get busy like that, we get a little crazy. For example, one client rolled into her appointment 30 minutes late, having no real inkling that she was late. In fact, she suddenly thought we always met at 8:30 instead of 8:00.

    That is a sign that we need to slow down and, perhaps, spend a little more time connecting with our poor, tired brains. Which is what I did with my client that day by creating what I'm calling an Energizing Band, Ball and BOSU Workout. The idea here is to do some basic, flowing movements that get the blood moving and allow things to settle down a bit, while still getting some core, balance and stability into the mix.

    If you've been feeling a little crazy, give this one a try and let me know what you think. Sometimes your body just needs something a little different.

  • Exercise of the Week: Side to Side Ball Rolls

    I love to highlight challenging, total body, often torturous exercises because they're so effective and, frankly, my clients practically beg for them. Yeah, I know...now pull the other leg.

    However, it's easy to forget that everything doesn't have to be challenging and that the gentler side of exercise is just as important as the harder side. My favorite tool for gentle, feel-good exercise is an exercise ball...the perfect tool for everything from warm ups and stretching to abs and stability training.

    One of my recent favorites are these side to side lunges for a stretchy, dynamic exercise that is perfect for warming up the body on those days when it's tough to get started.

    Side to Side Ball Rolls: Stand with the feet wide, toes forward and the right hand on the ball. Lunge to the left, rolling the ball across the body with the right hand and feeling a stretch down the right side. The right leg should be straight. Come back to center and now lunge the other side, switching hands on the ball. Go as slow or as fast as you want, depending on what you're going for. Repeat for as long as you like.

  • Vote in This Week's Poll: Will you workout over Memorial Day?
    Memorial Day is a time for remembering and celebrating those who've fought and died for America and it's also a time of celebration for families and friends. These celebrations ...

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  • Are you a bad influence?
    We're all responsible for our own choices, except when it's totally somebody else's fault. For example, say you go to lunch with your co-workers with a firm plan to ...

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  • How have you embarrassed yourself?

    Is it wrong that I love to hear stories about how other people embarrass themselves at the gym? It kind of makes me feel better about that time I fell off the treadmill. And, that other time I...fell off the treadmill. I seem to have a problem with treadmills, now that I think about it.

    I'm thinking about embarrassing stories because a friend of mine mentioned her own embarrassing fall at the gym which, you guessed it, involved a treadmill. The treadmill was going and *Donna stepped off to tied her shoe and thought she saw a friend of hers down the way. She was so focused on identifying this person that she stepped on the treadmill, forgetting that it was still going. What happened next was so fast, Donna has no actual recollection of how she ended up on her back, on the floor with about 25 people hovering over her. It's too bad that treadmill amnesia couldn't cover the aftermath as well, right?

    Thankfully, I haven't done anything embarrassing lately, but I'm sure some of you have...why not confess your most recent embarrassing gym moment? If you need to feel better about your mistakes, be sure to read about other people's most embarrassing moments at the gym.

  • Stretches of the Week - Your hips don't lie

    You know how you know you're old? When you take a CPR certification class and, when they tell you to sit cross-legged on the floor, you realize your hips no longer rotate in quite the same way as the last time you sat cross-legged...which was probably when you were a child.

    Tight hips...we all get them as we get older and they're usually made worse by all the sitting we do. These muscles collectively include the glutes, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs and the internal rotator muscles. When these areas get tight, they can cause aches and pains and even pain that radiates into different areas such as the lower back.

    If you want to get rid of tight hips, I have the perfect solution for you: Quit your job, throw out your TV and computer and sell your car. If you can't do that, the next best thing is to spend some time stretching your hips each day. There are lots of great stretches you can do for the hips, some of which you can even do at work without even standing up.

    Seated Hip Stretch right: While seated, cross the right ankle over the left knee and sit up tall, contracting the abs. Gently lean forward, keeping the back straight and reaching out with the torso until you feel a stretch in the right glute and hip. You can also press down on the right knee to deepen the stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

    Glute Stretch with Bands: Lie down on the floor with the left leg straight (or bent, if that's more comfortable) and loop a band or a long towel around the right foot. Holding both sides of the band with the right hand, straighten the right leg (keep a slight bend in the knee if needed) and take it across the body, lowering it down as far towards the floor as you can until you feel a stretch in the right hip and glute. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

    Lunge Stretch: In lunge position, rest back knee on the floor, with front knee at 90 degree angle. Gently press forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the leg/hip. Switch legs.
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    Pretzel Stretch: Cross left foot over right knee. Clasp hands behind right thigh and gently pull the leg in towards you, keeping upper body relaxed. Switch Legs.
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  • Vote in This Week's Poll: What muscle group do you love to hate?

    After 15 years in the fitness biz, I've noticed that our muscle groups seem to have their own personalities. For example, the biceps are rather likeable muscles. They're not too painful to work and they tend to respond pretty quickly to strength training, making our arms look a bit more becoming in sleeveless shirts. On the other hand, you have the triceps, which I consider a mean, sneaky group of muscles. Think about it...You start out with a triceps extension or a kickback and you're thinking - Gee, I don't feel anything! Then, around the 8th rep or so, an intense burning begins to spread over the back of the arms, rendering them almost instantly useless. Plus, those exercises don't seem to do much for those batwings, do they?

    The hamstrings, too, are rather benign, just hanging out in the back of your legs most of the time. Deadlifts are like a vacation, but do some squats or lunges for the quads? And it's like a vacation from hell.

    We all have our favorite and least favorite muscle groups....which one do you love to hate? Vote in this week's poll and tell us about it.

  • Challenge of the Week: When was the last time you...

    I was training a client the other day and she was listing all the things she had to do that day. By the end of her list, I was so exhausted, I had to sit down and rest before I could continue with our session. No doubt we're all crazy-busy, but too much crazy-busy leads to too much crazy-stress. I asked her: "When was the last time you sat down and did nothing?" After a long moment, she said, "1981."

    Today's challenge is to ask your own 'when was the last time I...' question and do something about it in the next seven days. Some ideas:

    When was the last time you...

    • Enjoyed your workout?
    • Took several days off from your workout routine?
    • Felt really rested and energetic?
    • Rewarded yourself for all your healthy choices?
    • Tried something new?
    • Sat down and did nothing at all?

    What questions could you come up with? More important, can you make the answer happen this week? I think you can.

  • When was the first time you missed your workouts?

    When I think of my first year of exercise, the time when I was finally getting serious about it, there were a number of false starts. I would get in two or three months of workouts before getting bored and quitting, only to start up again a few weeks later. When I looked at exercise, I would think: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?"

    Then it did go away and all because of an injury, a painful tendonitis in my Achilles tendon that would not allow me to do more than walk on my treadmill for a few minutes at a time. Suddenly I was begging my workouts to come back, kind of like you do when you're a teenager and you break up with an annoying boyfriend or girlfriend and then, later, when you're crying yourself to sleep because you're lonely, you totally forget why you broke up with them in the first place.

    When you're going through that initial, awkward phase of starting an exercise program, it's easy to focus on the negative things - The sweating, the burning, the fact that you have to keep doing it over and over. But, when it's ripped away, you kind of miss it, don't you?

    What about you? Was there a time you realized you actually missed exercising? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

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