at-home workout

Awesome Workout Thingy

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Happy 2018 everyone! Hope you had a lovely holiday and that you're looking forward to what the new year will bring. I don't know how embarrassed I should be that I used the word, thingy, in the title of a blog post. I'm not even sure it's an actual word. Ugh. I really do love the English language, I swear. But as I write this, I am feeling a bit creatively deficient :-) Hence a blog post with made-up words in the title.

Anyway, here's one of those shorter posts I promised back in December. These things from Miracle Method are my new favorite piece of workout "equipment." I used them in a Pilates workshop I attended last month. When I saw them I thought, "what can these little things possibly do?" But, oh my goodness, they are amazing! You place them beneath whatever part of your body is tense or painful--shoulders, hips, back, elbows, knees, head (if you're like me, some days it's all of those things!)--and then by resting on them, rotating on them or rolling on them in strategic ways, it releases those points of tension and pain. I noticed instant relief the first time I used them, but by using them regularly I'm noticing even better results. For less than $20 I feel like they're well worth the investment.

I've been using them in a couple of ways. When I have lots of time for my workouts, I will use them for about 15-minutes before I start exercising. Then I spend 5-minutes doing some joint mobilizations. And then I do my 30-minute (ish) workout. That happens a few times a week.

But I also find myself using them in the evenings while I'm watching television or listening to a podcast. It's kind of a nice way to end the day, and I'm not on so much of a time-crunch as I am when I use them before workouts.

Have any of you tried these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the Comments below!

 

When Change is Good

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A while ago I wrote a post about recovery days, aka active rest days and how important they are. And they are. And then...I promptly ignored my own advice.

I did it because I loved my workouts and didn't want to miss an opportunity to move.

Part of the fun of being a personal trainer is that I can play around with my workouts and see what my body can do. But I also know how to keep myself safe and the signs to watch for that indicate that a particular exercise or program isn't working for me.

Which leads me to the subject of this post.

Good Morning Sunshine

Several weeks ago I started to notice that I didn't feel right. I had trouble sleeping and was tired all the time. My muscles were sore constantly. I was irritable. I had been sick a couple of times in quick succession. My knee, which I had injured last year and recovered from, was starting to hurt badly again. My appetite was often nonexistent.

And I was starting to dread my workouts. Workouts that I normally loved. Exercises that used to be challenging but doable, now often seemed impossible. I wasn't feeling stronger. I wasn't having fun.

I suspected that I was overdoing things. Big time. So, I decided I needed to scale back. A prospect that in some ways I didn't relish, but in other ways was desperate to do.

Relax

I'm two weeks in to an 8-week scaled down, moderate-intensity program at this point and I gotta say...I'm feeling really good. My energy level is up, I'm sleeping well, and I'm enjoying moving through my workouts again. I'm following a program designed by another personal trainer that I really like, so I also freed myself from the responsibility of putting together my own workouts. I'm tracking things like my energy level, sleep, appetite, mood and how my body feels, which has been really helpful.

When the 8 weeks are over, I'll see how I feel and may bump up the duration or intensity of my workouts a bit. Maybe. Or maybe I'll change them up in some other way. I'm not quite sure yet. There are some classes I'm thinking about taking and they're a bit longer than my current sessions. If I take them, then I might decrease the intensity on other days. I'm just going to play around with different things until I find something that challenges me enough, while not draining me.

Keep Exploring

I encourage you to check-in with your body on a regular basis too. How are you sleeping? What's your energy-level like? How about your appetite? Your mood? Are you in pain?

How are your workouts working for you? Are you giving your body a chance to recover from activity? If you generally like exercise, do you find yourself looking forward to it each day or dreading it? Are you doing the same kind of workout, but not with the same amount of enjoyment? Have the gains you were making in strength, endurance, flexibility or balance slowed or plateaued? Are you bored? Are you feeling overwhelmed or too challenged?

We often stick to routines out of habit, or out of the fear that if we change things up whatever the new thing is won't be as effective as the old thing and we'll lose whatever gains we've made. And we very often don't pay attention to the signals our bodies are sending us that it's time to scale down, scale up or just change our activity.

When you've done your own self-assessment, feel free to change anything that isn't working for you. There are tons of great personal trainers who can help you figure out a great plan, and I'm always happy to share the name of the program I'm doing now with anyone who's interested, with the caveat that every body is different and what works well for me might not work for you and vice versa.

There are so many ways to move your body, that finding something that works for you is a matter of trial and error. And, in case I haven't said it here before, you can always break up your exercise time into manageable chunks. If your goal is 30 minutes a day, you can do three 10-minute sessions instead of one 30 minute block. Do what works for you, both in terms of content and time.

Take care all. Until next time...

Inside My At-Home Gym

I'm not currently working with a trainer or taking any exercise classes anywhere, so my workouts are exclusively home workouts at the moment. The good news is that you actually don't need much in the way of equipment to get a great workout in at home. There are lots of exercises you can do using your body weight, or common household items for resistance. When I was really new to exercise I used canned vegetables as weights. No joke. And they worked.

However, at a certain point you'll want to invest in a few items. Some will allow you to add challenge to your workouts, which is important if you want to continue to see improvements in your strength. But, the right equipment can make your workout life easier too.

So here's what I've got.

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Dumbbells. Generally speaking, you want a weight that's heavy enough that somewhere between repetition 8 and 12, you are feeling challenged but can maintain proper form. I'm using my 5-pound and 8-pound dumbbells for my current workout.

A mat. I have a couple. This one is a thicker foam mat that I use for floor exercises. IMG_1027

This one is a yoga mat. It's stickier and good for...you guessed it. Yoga.

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Some resistance bands and stretchy bands. I use the resistance bands for upper body stuff primarily, and the stretchy bands (the wider yellow and green ones) for leg work.

A ball. I use this to add challenge to some leg and glute exercises, such as bridges and heel presses.

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And that's about it for the necessities.

Now on to the splurges.

This is a BOSU. BOSU stands for both sides utilized. That's pretty self-explanatory. The BOSU is a piece of equipment designed to provide you with an unstable surface on which to stand, jump and/or complete exercises. Balance is such an important component of fitness. If you've worked out at our studio, you may have done biceps curls, rows, lunges, squats or push-ups on the BOSU. I liked it so much when I used it at the studio, I bought one for my home gym. It's fun and bouncy, but man-oh-man is it a challenge.

A stability ball.

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I love this for crunches and some upper-body exercises. Like the BOSU it adds a balance challenge to whatever exercise in which you incorporate it. But it's also a great substitute for your normal chair. Just sitting on it forces you to engage the muscles of your core.

If I had to guess, I'd say that all the items above (necessities and splurges) cost me a couple of hundred dollars. The BOSU was half of that, at $99.

So, that's it. That's what I use on a daily basis. I've had most of it for years and it's showing no signs of needing to be replaced. Pretty good for a $200 investment, I'd say.

Let me know if there's a piece of equipment you're thinking about buying, but aren't sure whether it's any good/necessary. I'm happy to give my two cents. I've tried all sorts of fitness equipment over the years. Some good (the BOSU). Some bad (anyone remember those belts that shocked your abs into shape? I sure do.). Even if I haven't personally tried it, I can probably tell you whether the claims have any basis in fitness fact or not.

Okay, that's all from me today. See you here again later this week!